Exhibition Report: Some Good, Some Bad

Rachel Gibson

Goodness, there's already so much to talk about. The ballpark is just delicious. All the construction camera shots, photos and graphics? They absolutely did not do the park justice. It feels way small and completely cozy. I couldn't get over how much closer to the field everything looked in person.

Go early, go early, go early. The ballpark wasn't even at capacity and concession lines went for days, especially at Ben's Chili Bowl. My buddies and I checked out all the nooks and crannies in the ballpark before we ate. Big mistake. By the time we were ready to get food, there were decent lines at every concession. Well, except Giffords Ice Cream. Sadly, it was too cold for ice cream. Anyway, by the time we got through the food lines, we had missed some of the ceremonies and speeches and it took some time to get settled into the actual ballgame. If I were to do it again, I'd go in, get a bite to eat, THEN go look around.

Evidence of the last minute preparations were everywhere, but I'm not going to nit-pick yet. It's the first day! There's tons of time of time to play the entitled customer. But there were a few things that stood out, good and bad.

My very first entrance into the ballpark was a little jarring. I came in the Home Plate Gate, all grinny and giddy, and before I received any kind of greeting, Disney or otherwise, I was told by yellow-jacket security with stone-cold faces that my tiny backpack wasn't going to be allowed in the future. Security 1, Rachel's Buzz 0.

The music was fantastic. All of it. Except one song. I could not believe they still played Sweet Caroline. IT'S NOT OUR SONG!! That is a Red Sox tradition!! Can we not come up with new material, especially now? I was disgusted and pouted with my arms crossed for a full inning. Also, in section 202, anything spoken through the speakers was indecipherable. Sigh. Just like RFK.

Okay, back to the good stuff. I only visited the Team Stores at the Home Plate Gate, but I'm really excited about the cute women's shirts. They actually had more red than pink. (Trust me, you do not want to hear my pink-baseball-gear rant).

The Red Porch restaurant crew seemed a bit overwhelmed, but my goodness they had great attitudes. Although it took a long time to be helped we were very forgiving because our waiter and the other staff were so friendly and were really trying hard. Two other great features of the Red Porch restaurant are its outside row of very comfortable-looking seats (they're reserved), and the upper deck bar above the restaurant. I can't wait to give both a test drive.

I was a little bummed about the timing of the team's pre-game tribute to the ballpark's construction workers. Nobody was seated yet, and those folks deserve the standing ovation of an entire 41,888-person audience.

Transportation: I took the green line all the way in and liked not knowing which end of the train the ballpark exit would be, because I knew from this day forward I would always know, if that makes sense. For that reason, I'm not telling. I'll let you learn that yourself.

If you're going home on the red, blue or orange lines, give the N22 bus to Union Station a try. In only took 7 minutes to reach Eastern Market, and reached Union Station within 15. It picks up at the far metro entrance on New Jersey (at M St.). The bus was not crowded (yet), there was no traffic (yet), and the bus came much more frequently than every 10 minutes.

I can't wait to hear about your first visit.

By Rachel Gibson  |  March 30, 2008; 2:38 PM ET  | Category:  Rachel Gibson
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Comments

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I noticed that they have a Joe DiMaggio quote in large letters on the wall. Too bad they didn't hire a copy editor before doing so. The comma in the quote should be a semicolon, and there is no period inside of the end-quotation mark. I can't believe it got approved all the way up without anyone noticing!

Posted by: Stickler | March 30, 2008 9:30 PM

When is someone going to conduct a report of the economic and social implications of this new stadium, rather than just the opinionated whims of one editorial writer's visit.

Posted by: Austin Purnell, D.C. | March 31, 2008 1:14 AM

this is an achingly vapid article. my existence is pained for reading it : (

Posted by: scott | March 31, 2008 1:34 AM

Sadly, it was too cold for ice cream

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2008 1:36 AM

Trust me, you do not want to hear my pink-baseball-gear rant.

You said a mouthful!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2008 1:38 AM

Well went to the "Opening Day" game DC yet again has come up with opening something and not coming through. To mention things are way over priced including parking and food is an understanment. But oh well! I have been to many opening day's and this was by far my worst. I will not be back to the stadium until June and hope they have worked out most of the kinks by then But I doubt it!!

Kasten: get a decent food vendor operations with people that what to work not 4 people watching french fries fry!!

Posted by: Gene | March 31, 2008 9:30 AM

One of the Lerner kids must be a HUGE Neil Diamond fan - because they just held a big vote on the music and I'm sure a lot of their dedicated fans told them STOP PLAYING SWEET CAROLINE!!!! They did it anyway. Lots of fans really hate it.

Posted by: Nats Rule | March 31, 2008 9:44 AM

If the Nats want the water savings from the dual-flush toilets in the ladies' rooms, they need to post instructions in the restrooms. They don't need to be in every stall -- a big sign to read while waiting in line would be fine.

And boo-hiss on the one way entry/exit loop in the bathroom.

Posted by: green green | March 31, 2008 10:00 AM

Exhibition Game Experience
The Park is great for watching baseball.

The food line was the worst experience I can recall anywhere and basically spoiled the whole evening for me. Outside Section 128, I stood in line at NATS DOGS from the top of the 2nd inning until the bottom of the 6th inning with only 12 people in front of me. A hot dog - at a ball park - from a vendor that sells only hot dogs and half-smokes!!!!! 4.5 innings!!!

The reason given - "the hot dogs aren't ready" - "THE HOT DOGS AREN'T READY??!!!" You only sell hot dogs!!! NATS DOGS. This was not an issue of broken equipment - it was literally cooking them to order on those little rollie things or something. Hot dogs came out a couple at a time. (Hint to the vendor - buy a propane burner and heat up a big pot of water) No management in sight, anywhere.

The real irony is that what I wanted was a half-smoke of which there were plenty during my whole 90 minute wait.

Opening Night was better - I found a spot (in the park) with $2.50 hot dogs and no line - I had my fill and saw all of the game - sweet revenge.

Posted by: nats15 | March 31, 2008 12:45 PM

Where were these $2.50 dogs?

Posted by: Hillgal | March 31, 2008 3:16 PM

GO BRAVES!

Posted by: trey | April 7, 2008 10:36 AM

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