Friday morning my sister Alex, my friend Nick, and I headed into Washington DC via the Greenbelt stop on the Metro. We bought day passes for $9 each (cheaper than buying single rides). Once in Washington, we spent the afternoon hiking around the National Mall looking at monuments, gardens, and outsides of museums. Around 3:30 we decided to head over to Nationals Park and get tickets to that night’s game. We took the Green Line to the Navy Yard Station and passed Fairgrounds bar and some construction before arriving at the main entrance to the ballpark. We walked to the end of the already long line for the $15 tickets ($5 on non-marque game nights) that go on sale two and a half hours before first pitch.
While Nick and Alex held my spot in the line, I made a quick loop around the ballpark. The outside facade is simple and elegant- striped concrete and steel with some glass on the Home Plate side. The gates are clearly marked with large red retro looking signs and there’s just enough stadium flair to give the park some character without being tacky. I’m glad the Nationals didn’t join in on the retro park craze since the team is still relatively new (though DC does have a history with the sport that you can learn about at the Home Plate Gate).
Most fans will enter/exit through the Center Field Gate that faces the metro and is flanked by two parking garages, but if you want to avoid crowds there are multiple gates around the park. The only fans I saw while circling around the park were a few waiting for the Yankees team bus to arrive outside the Nationals team parking lot and some near the team store by home plate. Once back near center field, the crowds started to pick up and I got back in line just in time to get my ticket (have to be present to buy a discounted ticket).
We entered at the Center Field Gate passing through the outfield concourse littered with weird statues to the escalator underneath the scoreboard. We rode that up to the Scoreboard Walk bar to take advantage of the pre-game special- $5 beers. Best beer deal in baseball! They’re the same beers that during the game cost $8, but up until first pitch, they’re the cheapest drink you’ll find, even beating the bar down the street. This area underneath the scoreboard is nice, they have a tent set up with live music and there’s standing room that allowed us to catch the end of the Nationals batting practice.
Once they opened up the rest of the park for Yankees batting practice, we headed down to the visitor’s dugout to watch Derek and company warm up. All fans are able to go down to field level for practice and it gave me some time to survey the inside of the park, which is very patriotic- white concrete and steel, red accents, and blue seats! The outfield is completely open, though the view isn’t much since the city is so far from the park. Some of the 400 level on the first base side can see the Capitol Building, but that’s about it. The scoreboard is adorned with a large analog clock and to its left is a large two story bar and restaurant- Red Porch. Near game time we headed back up to the bar to replenish our beers before the prices went up and to explore the ballpark fuller.
Beer in hand we walked around the 200 level outfield area until we hit the suite and club level that begins at the third baseline. The right field has some good standing room and the Nationals do offer standing room only tickets for $25 once they run out of their discounted 400 level tickets (again ticket prices are inflated due to the Yankees being awesome and all). From here we headed down the ramp to the main concourse which circles around the park and houses a ton of concessions on either side. There is very limited standing room on this level since the area behind home plate is the Diamond Club and the food stands sit very close to the back of the seats. We did manage to find an area to stand for the anthem and Yankee at bat along the third baseline before making our way to our seats.
The 300/400 level concourse offers the same variety of concessions as downstairs and a little picnic area in the corner of left field for fans to eat their food and watch the game (there is another large picnic area on the 100 level behind right field bleachers, but the view is obstructed by standing room). I opted for a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl (DC staple), Alex got veggie chili nachos, and Nick went with the pizza. All of us were full after our food, the portions are large which somewhat justifies the price. The view from our seats was great; the ballpark seems a lot smaller on the inside. The section we were in was on the third base side and felt like we were close to the field action, though it would have been nice to be nearer to home plate. We stayed up here for the majority of the game, moving back to the 100 level around the 7th.
The sold out crowd stayed electric during the pitcher’s duel up until the Yanks broke the game open in the 7th, winning the game 7-2. I loved the Presidents Race in the middle of the 4th– poor Teddy never wins! The wave your caps thing they did was a little weird, but hey, it was something different.
For this trip, I spent $9 on transportation, $15 on a ticket, and $21 on stadium food and beer ($45). My entire spend during my five game bender came out to be $902, well under my $1000 goal. Nationals Park is easily one of my favorite ballparks and it will only get better once they finish developing the area around the park. The fans were upbeat, enjoying the team’s recent success and the game atmosphere was rocking up until the end. We had so much fun we went back the next day for more!