Named “Nationals Ballpark”, Fans Get an Upgrade Chris Licata When the old Washington Senators used to play in the nation’s capital there was...

Named “Nationals Ballpark”, Fans Get an Upgrade

Washington NationalsChris Licata

When the old Washington Senators used to play in the nation’s capital there was an old saying that went like this, “first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.” Unfortunately for DC baseball fans their new team, the Washington Nationals, have not done anything to alter that perception, aside from swapping the phrase AL East for NL East.

Since moving from Montreal prior to the 2005 baseball season, the Nationals have finished in the cellar of the NL East twice – going 81-81 in 2005 and 71-91 in 2006. Despite their team woes, however, the fans have maintained an interest in the struggling Nats.

During their first two seasons, the Nats welcomed an average of 33,651 fans and 26,582 fans respectively in 2005 and 2006. Although those numbers are not astounding, they have continued to remain competitive with the neighboring Baltimore Orioles who drew 32,404 fans in 2005 and 26,583 fans in 2006. . .

This season the Nationals are once again in the basement of the National League East, but hope is on the horizon for the franchise. In 2006 the City Council approved the construction of a new ballpark that will seat 41,000 fans and create a new “ballpark district” within the city. Construction crews broke ground on May 4, 2006 and the team is confident that the facility will be ready in time for opening day of the 2008 season.

Named “Nationals Ballpark” the stadium offers 22,000 seats in a lower bowl, 12,100 seats in the upper bowl, 2,500 club seats, 1,112 suite seats, 1,300 seat “diamond club” and a 500-seat “founders club.” An interesting feature about the stadium is that according to the Nationals web site, fans sitting in the upper bowl will have an uninterrupted view of the United States Capitol Building.

Though the new stadium will feature approximately 5,000 fewer seats than their current home, RFK Stadium, Nationals Ballpark will offer many other amenities that their antiqued home does not currently have. With significantly more concession stands, restaurants and team stores, Nationals Ballpark makes getting your cold drink, hot dog and team jersey a much easier task. Additionally, the giant scoreboard at Nationals Ballpark is nearly four times larger than the one at RFK.

Despite the significant upgrade in stadiums, Nationals season tickets are remaining affordable for the 2008 season. The cost to put a deposit down for a 2008 season ticket range from $300 to $10, actual ticket package prices have not yet been announced.

The Nationals will enter their new ballpark being led by hard-hitting third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman exploded onto the national scene in 2006 when he hit an impressive .287 with 20 home runs and an impressive 110 RBI – barely getting edged out by Florida’s Hanley Ramirez in the race for the Rookie of The Year Award.

Though the traditional sophomore jinx has slowed him down a little this season, he is still putting up respectable numbers including 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 99 games. He has been joined this year Dimitri Young, who has been on an absolute tear in 2007. Since arriving in DC from the Tigers, Young is hitting a tremendous .335 with nine home runs and 52 RBI.

The Nationals are still a long ways from being contenders, but with the imminent move to Nationals Ballpark and headlining stars like Zimmerman and Young, it’s safe to say that baseball is officially back in the nation’s capital.

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