Kasten doesn't like visiting team cheers in D.C.
Any time Stan Kasten goes on the radio to discuss the phenomenon of visiting fan invasions at Nats Park, I must transcribe his every word. My job status depends on this. It's written into the contract. And so, a few days late, I present to you Mark Plotkin grilling Kasten about the Nats Park crowd makeup, delivered via Friday's WTOP Politics Hour.
"I am not a singular phenom,"said Plotkin, who apparently roots for the White Sox over the Nats despite his years in this city. "There are others,"he continued. "Mets fans, terrible Cubs fans -- something should happen to the -- all these people that have loyalties, even to the point where sometimes you're accused of there [being] more people in the stadium who are rooting for the opposing team than the hometown team."
"Well, it's a particular phenomenon here with this team." Kasten replied. "A writer said to me last week, 'You know, there aren't lifelong Nats fans.' Yeah, unless you're less than five years old, there couldn't be. And that's part of the process that we go through, and this is how it starts.
"We give you a reason to be interested in the local team, to be curious enough to come out. We try to give you a good time while you're there, try to have the team continue to build and become successful. And when something amazing like the Strasburg phenomenon comes along, it helps you get more energized, and that's how the process begins, Mark. It's gonna overtake even you. In time, you're gonna be converted as well....And that's why we don't mind even when fans of other cities come to our ballpark. It happens everywhere, We know it's gonna happen."
Plotkin continued, asking Kasten what it feels like to hear cheers for the visiting side.
"I don't like it," Kasten said, "but I understand that that's how the process begins. When we can get people into the ballpark -- even when they come for other reasons -- if we give them enough of a good time, give them a reason to get behind our team, the process of turning them will happen. And it will happen, because I think we are on the right track."
You know, I've parsed radio transcripts for signs of unacceptable D.C. disloyalty as much as anybody, but I'm not sure I could find a cross word to say about this answer. It's nice to hear Kasten say he doesn't like those visiting cheers; the fear is that the people upstairs haven't cared about this issue. Feeling like it's a problem is the first step.
Kasten was on for a full hour, so there was plenty of talk about plenty of baseball issues, but since Plotkin is wont to ask slightly off-the-beaten-track questions, I figured I'd provide some of those responses. You can listen to the full thing here.
On the 2010 attendance: "It started off slow, because coming out of spring training, our season ticket base was down yet again this year....When we committed to building through scouting and player development, there was a process that was gonna take time. there was no shortcut to it. And that's what we've done, and we're coming through it now. And this year we will see an upturn in attendance. By the time the year's over, we will have more people this year than we had last year. Last year was about 1.8 [million], I think the first year was like 2.7 or something like that. I think this year we'll go over the 1.8, because in the last month we've seen the worn turn. we have finally started going north again."
On neighborhood development: As far as reviving the neighborhood,I'll say this. this year we'll draw whatever it is, a million 8, 2 million people into that part of D.C. And five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, there were no visitors to that part of D.C., so it's already been a big plus for the Navy Yard and that part of the Anacostia neighborhood. I don't think there's been the development that all of us foresaw coming, and that's frankly because of the turndown in the economy and the real estate semi-bust that we've been in. But it's bound to happen. There's too much good there. As i said, there's the 2 million people -- on our way to 3 million people I think very soon -- coming there every year. We have a magnificent waterfront on our doorstep. All the pieces are in place to still be what we envisioned someday: a grand nightlife area of entertainment, shopping, restaurants, etc."
On mixing modern presidents into the President's Race: "I think we've done a good job with the whole presidents thing. I think they are the four Rushmores, so hardly anyone can argue with their eminence. And living presidents, or even recent presidents, would be somewhat controversial, especially in this city. So i like where we are with our presidents."
On adding a patch or pin promoting D.C. statehood or voting rights: "I certainly understand how you feel, and my own personal sympathies aside, remember I'm a resident of D.C. myself....We consider ourselves and our very proud to be representing the national pastime in he nation's capital. We take that very seriously. We welcome all comers of any political stripe. We are a politics-free zone....So anything that comes close to being controversial or political, we stay away from....We're not expressing a view one way or the other. we're staying away from it. And we're keeping everything about Nationals Park away from that kind of political controversy, because we want everyone to feel welcome there."
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