Well, the Nats have again employed a crack marketing strategy designed to drive attendance down. Last year, it was the now-famous "We'll be so bad, We'll lose 130 games!" strategy. Stan and the boys sold that so relentlessly last year that people bought it, and fan turnout suffered accordingly. This year's marketing campaign: "Getting To The Park Will Be Worse Than a Root Canal!"
Let's hope that the team, and the city, are wrong again. . . .
The strategy does fit in with the theme developed by Boz and others - Nationals Park fits the city's traditions and scale perfectly. In this case, it means that suburban drivers will start obsessing about how to get to their destination days in advance, and will be frustrated and late by the time they get there. That's what defines a Washington Monument for many.
Being an intrepid (not-so-young) cub reportoblogger, I decided to make the trek to the Saturday exhibition game and confirm the predicted pain. I drove from the Va. Beltway up 395 to Pentagon City, where I grabbed a free spot on the street. It was a two-block walk to the Yellow line.
Being lucky with trains, it took 12 minutes from the Va. Metro to the Navy Yard Metro escalators on the way up to the stadium; about 30 from the Beltway. I know it was only the exhibition game, but the trains were jammed - probably representative of a mid-week regular season game. Still, it was nearly painless - much better than your average root canal. And the reward for anyone riding Metro is reminiscent of riding Metro to RFK - climb the escalator, come out of the station, turn your head, and see . . . Heaven. The one-block alley walkway framed the centerfield entrance to the park, as the park rises out of the ground. The walkway had hawkers with T-shirts, men shuffling along offering to buy and sell tickets, and wide-eyed baseball fans giggling, taking countless snapshots with digital cameras. Everything you'd expect, and want, at a DC baseball game. And I saw tears in the eyes of some of the older patrons. This stadium DOES fit D.C. perfectly.
By putting my frustration in my pocket, I felt like I'd taken a trip to Oz. No flying monkeys (yet), but some Big-Headed Presidents to greet me. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to go in and see the game - being a Washingtonian, I had someplace else to be Saturday night. But my first experience was a lot nicer than a root canal. Tonight, I'll park at RFK and try to see Oz from a different direction.
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