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Pols Take the Field

The opening of Nationals Park this weekend gives politicians and city officials a chance to take the field, too.

Saturday's exhibition game will feature City Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D) handing over the Nats' line up card to the umpire and D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chairman Matthew Cutts gets to shout "Let's Play Ball!"
The commission owns the ballpark on behalf of the city and Cutts and commission CEO Gregory O'Dell have been overseeing construction in recent months.

Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) gets to inaugurate what team executives say will be a new Nationals tradition of the mayor announcing "Play Ball!" at the season's opening game. This year that will be Sunday, in a nationally televised game on ESPN, against the Atlanta Braves at 8 p.m.

That announcement will come after the first pitch. President Bush will have those honors.

It's all part of the festivities on Sunday when the ballpark will open at 3:30 p.m. Fans can watch batting practice, beginning at 4:30 p.m. There will be a Dixieland band, a barbershop quartet, mambo music and a fighter jet flyover.

The last we heard, the man responsible for the team coming to D.C. and the new ballpark--former Mayor Anthony Williams (D)--will also be at the home opener. He'll be sitting in seats he purchased for himself, along third baseline.

By Daniel LeDuc  |  March 26, 2008; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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Next: Away Game

Comments

Here is a story that WUSA 9 reporter Bruce Johnson aired yesterday. It's amazing that the WP is giving all the fluffy coverage to opening day, yet refuses to write about officers being pulled from their regular duties to staff baseball games at the expense of the tax payers especially when the Nationals owners already owe the police department for last seasons services. FFR

It's all part of the deal with Major league Baseball according to DC Police Officials. They'll assign about 40 officers to a security detail at the New Nationals Ball park beginning Sunday March 30th Opening day.

The officers will already be on duty but won't be coming from neighborhood or street patrols, say officials. They'll be detailed from special operations and administrative assignments in the Districts according to Assistant Chief Patrick Burke.

DC Councilman Phil Mendelson who voted against the bill to provide 600 million dollars in public financing for the stadium project is equally skeptical about the police detail to the stadium because taxpayers and not the Nats owners will again be picking up the tab.

The FOP head Khristopher Baumann goes further and says if the city has 40 officers available for duty they should be assigned to community policing and not be made available on taxpayers dime to the stadium.

Last year MPD provided police officers for security at Nats games at RFK...that was okay with the FOP because the officers were off duty and being paid overtime. The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission should have picked up the overtime tab; but that agency is broke and so the police department had to absorb the nearly two million dollar overtime expense.

I checked with Police about their arrangements with the Verizon center where the Wizards and Capitols play. Turns out there is a much smaller special Police operations detail assigned to the center; but police spokesperson Traci Hughes says the city is reimbursed for their services by Wizards owner Abe Pollin

Posted by: flatfoot_roy | March 26, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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