Washington Nationals Park Preview

Monday, I found out quite abruptly that single game tickets for the Baltimore Orioles had gone on sale. I thought I was subscribed to their mailing list, but now that I’m thinking about it, I may have unsubbed due to too many emails. Figures. Lower deck tickets were mostly sold out for the April 12th game I am planning on attending, but StubHub came to the rescue, and I now have some pretty decent seats. I probably won’t be completely relaxed about it until I am able to print them (the seller has not yet placed the actual tickets on the site yet, I only have the section and row I am sitting in), but I have gotten them and that is a step closer to being there.  Coincidentally, my Mariners home opener tickets arrived in the mail the same day. We still have some days until pitchers and catchers report, but we’re getting closer and closer to the beginning of the 2014 baseball season.

Part of my trip, of course, involves a 4PM game at Nationals Stadium on Thursday April 10th. The game is against the Marlins, so I’m not sure how excited about it I can be, but neither the opponent nor the home team are the whole point of this journey; I just really want to go see a ball game in DC, and investigate a new park. To this end, I’ve been doing a bit of research online to find out what I need to know about Nationals Park and its surroundings.

Everything I have heard or read so far from various sources says that the best way to get there is a public train line that arrives near or at the stadium. I am not sure how we will accomplish this, but am relying on my friend to know more of his way around the area than I currently do (my knowledge of DC is limited to driving mostly in the dark, and mostly in the worse areas of town, where nightclubs I have played exist or existed. I have zero directional knowledge of the city). My goal is to take in a museum somewhere in the city earlier in the day, though I have not decided which one. I am anticipating a bit of jet lag given my early morning departure time the day before, so I am guessing that will impact whether I actually make it to a museum, or spend the whole day eating everything at Nando’s. As it is, I plan on grabbing dinner there the night before, if GPS and my friend’s driving are both successful in getting us there. In any event, I’d far rather just drive to the stadium and find parking if possible, but if not, I’ll hop on a train, sure, why not? Nothing quite as comforting as taking public transportation in an unfamiliar city. Parking, however, is a bit expensive.  That train looks slightly more appealing now!

I will also be in DC just as the cherry trees are blooming, by happy coincidence. The Stadium has “fourteen Kwanzan Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees” within the stadium; eight in the Center Field Plaza, and six more on the main concourse in left field. I find myself wondering if the field is kept free of pink “snow”, and looking forward to how beautiful the city will be at this time of year.

Nationals Park also has statues:

World renowned husband and wife artists Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt along with Jody Rotblatt, Sean Bell and Oscar Leon, worked hundreds of hours to bestow on Nationals Park the likes of Josh Gibson, Frank Howard and Walter Johnson in white bronze. These Negro League Baseball, Major League Baseball and D.C. sports icons have now staked claim to the Center Field Plaza where they can be seen, admired, discussed and argued over by all who enter the gates of Nationals Park. Known for many types of art mediums, the team from the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Illinois has created such artistic immortalizations as Michael Jordan, “Magic” Johnson, Gordie Howe, Ty Cobb and – Mr. Take Me Out to the Ballgame himself – Harry Caray.

You would think that the MLB.com team websites would all be set up quite similarly to each other, but unfortunately that is not the case. While the Orioles and Mariners sites have A-Z guides that are pretty inclusive of all the things to see and do in both parks, other teams’ sites are not as cut and dried.  The Red Loft and Red Porch are mentioned in their A-Z guide. These sound very similar to the Hit It Here Café and Lookout Landing, though the Loft and Porch are above and below each other. I have posted a picture of the field below, and indeed, there they are in center field. A little more poking around and you have an absolutely insane list of concessions. If you click on that link, your head might explode, and you will definitely be hungry. The options are wide, and unlike things we have here in Seattle. Of particular interest to me:

Dolci Gelati
Features traditional Italian gelato in a variety of flavors

Gluten Free
Features an assortment of gluten free food items as well as beer

Field of Greens
Featuring some healthier options at the ballpark, including salads, wraps, sushi and fresh fruit and vegetables

Kosher Grill
Features Kosher Hot Dogs, Knishes, Falafel and Shwarma. Under the Supervision of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington

Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Features sno cones in a variety of different flavors and sizes

Curly W Pretzels
Featuring the “Curly W Pretzel”, slushy puppies, and pretzel dogs

Samuel Adams Brewhouse
Featuring an assortment of Sam Adams Brews

Are you kidding me with all of this?! I’ll never make it out of there alive! Or, at the very least, I’ll gain an additional 10 pounds! This is totally nuts. I think I may be shooting for a falafel and Curly W pretzel, with a battle between shave ice and gelato to top it off. If you’ve never had proper Hawaiian shave ice (and there is a massive difference between that and sno cones, so I’m hoping that the Nats do it right), it’s just wonderful. If you’re in the city here, you can try it out at the Marination Mobile in West Seattle, and there is a cart that shows up to some of our local street festivals that also has it. Get it with ice cream, you won’t regret!

nats parkI have been told by a few people now that the park is just beautiful, and everything I have seen online makes it look very clean and pleasant. The seating chart may take some studying. Whereas Safeco has three levels, and a few sections that are pretty easy to figure out, Nationals Park has more sections at a bunch of different price points. I generally think of Safeco as having three levels with price points that aren’t all that different from each other, but I think that’s mainly because it’s so familiar. Nationals Stadium looks like this:

nats2The main concourse seating area is divided up around the middle, making the more choice seats behind the plate a little more roomy than it is here at Safeco. It will depend greatly on my finances over the next few weeks (holy cats it’s a matter of weeks now!), but the nicer seats might be fun to check out. I am still waiting for single game tickets to go on sale.

So I know literally nothing about the Nationals as a team except that Mike Morse did pretty well there, Doug Fister was sent over recently, and they’ve got Bryce Harper.  And, of course, Stephen Strasburg, Mariners fans’ favorite thing to moan over a few years ago, when we were battling the Nats to the bottom of the barrel for a first draft pick. I would love to see either Strasburg or Fister start, but I’ll take what I can get. The gates open two and a half hours prior to game time, so I am hoping to have a lot of time to check things out, take pictures, and walk around. And yes, I will be rooting for the Nats to win. I might even buy a shirt.

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6 Responses to Washington Nationals Park Preview

  1. Jerry Troshynski says:

    I think you’ll like DC if the weather is good. Too bad you don’t actually have more time to see the city. I absolutely recommend their rail system, the “Metro”. It gets you anywhere and people are really friendly at giving directions. Don’t drive down there. Too much traffic and too few parking places. As for museums, you probably can’t go wrong with whatever you choose. Just depends on what your interests are. The National Art Museum is incredible and they usually have several Monet’s and Renoirs. Even had a Da Vinci there when I visited. Smithsonians are also great, but you probably need more time to see all of what they offer. The Smithsonian Air and Space museum is interesting and in a separate building. The Library of Congress is also impresive if you only have 1/2 day. Or, just visit the monuments in the Mall. The Viet Nam Memorial is somber, the Korean War memorial is erie, and the Lincoln Memorial is impressive. All Americans should visit Arlington National Cemetary, where President Kennedy is buried. It’s also the ancestral home of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and his home is on the grounds. Serious history here. I doubt you’ll have that much jet lag, only 3 hrs time difference (I live in Alaska so deal with the time changes all the time when I travel). Enjoy the trip.

    • Megan Shear says:

      I actually live in Seattle, so the flight over will be significant; I have to be up at 4AM the day I leave. 😦
      Thank you for the rest of the information. After I posted this, I realized that early gates means they open at 1.30 for a 4pm game; so the museum thing becomes less likely. Are the monuments close or closer to the stadium? If we did Metro (I just spoke with my traveling companion, he is pushing for the train, especially due to the cherry blossoms that week), would it be possible to see the monuments while on foot? Are they near the stadium? I haven’t gotten the chance to thoroughly study a map of the area just yet…

      • Jerry Troshynski says:

        Yes, for us in Alaska no flight to the “lower 48” is less than 3-4 hours. Getting up so early is below average. We usually have to leave on “red-eye” flights, around midnight. Hopefully the airlines won’t surround you with crying children. I actually haven’t considered where the stadium is in relation to the Mall. I would imagine the Metro will easily get you to it though, and from just about anywhere in the DC area in no more than 15-20 minutes. You can easily walk and see most of the monuments on the Mall, including the Washington Monument and the ones I mentioned. Plus more. I’d really recommend it while you’re there. While going to baseball games is a worthy endeavor, the monuments are incredible and while you’re there should be experienced. And the Mall is lined with cherry trees. Have a great trip.

  2. Megan Shear says:

    Thanks for the info!
    And I will definitely try to make it. Baseball is the reason for my trip, but I will be in DC and Baltimore the most during my travel, so I should have time to see something. I love to walk, so it may very well be possible to see the memorials, whether that day or the free day that I have in the area. Fingers crossed for good weather; I am keeping fingers crossed for a lack of rain as well.

  3. Section 36 says:

    Hope your tickets in Camden Yards are in Section 36! 🙂
    I keep trying to visit Camden Yards for a while, but haven’t been able to yet. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to make a trip like yours and catch both parks.

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