A Great First Game

Ed Ramras

I have to agree with my fellow Grounds Crew member Scott Watson -- transportation problems going to the park were highly overplayed.

I live in eastern Prince William County, right off of I-95, and, as Department of Defense employee, I decided to drive to the Navy Yard, park there and walk to the park on Sunday. It worked out great. I left home at 4 and made it to the Center Field gate by 5.

My son David and I decided to take a walk around the outside of the Park, and walked in at the home plate gate. Friendly uniformed Secret Service agents, friendly ticket checkers (nobody TAKES tickets anymore, do they?), and friendly free gift givers. I passed on the $10 program (my mother-in-law is right, I am cheap), and went for a circumnavigation of the lower concourse. My first purchase was a $6 curly W pretzel. Gotta say it was disappointing. I wanted a warm, salty pretzel, and it was cold with little or no salt to speak of. The dough was dense and chewy in a not good way. Street vendors in NYC usually do better.

We meandered up to Section 419, to see where my seats for my 20-game plan will be, and stopped at the kosher food stand on the upper concourse. It was staffed by three nice girls, but they had no customers. (It was about 5:30 by then.) I bought a garlic knish to split with David. For the uninitiated, a knish is usually mashed potatoes wrapped in dough and baked. There are many variations on the theme, including spinach, kasha, and chopped liver. Shapes can be round or square. This is the first time I had a garlic knish. It was round, hot, tasted great, and was only $4.50. A much better value than the pretzel. It would, however, be difficult to make a knish in the shape of a curly W.

After sitting in what will be my "regular" seat, we went back downstairs (downramp?) to find our seats for the game in Section 232. While walking around, we ran into my wife's cousin's husband and his two teenage kids. They were on the prowl to find the Five Guys hamburger stand. David and I had not seen it on our first trip around the lower concourse, but we found it one short escalator ride up from the Strike Zone (the kids' area). The line looked very long, but the manager assured us it would move quickly, and it would be 10 minutes from placing our order to picking up our food. We weren't disappointed. We got on line at about 6:30, and had our food by about 6:45, which is really not much longer than it would take in one of their stores. The manager assured the crowds in line that by the next home game their stand's equipment would be improved and service would be faster. He compared the situation to making burgers on Pizza Hut equipment -- adequate but not the most efficient. We went back downstairs to the kids area to sit at a picnic table and eat. (More tables would be a nice addition to these plaza areas. There were some picnic areas, but they were taken up by special events.)

After this pleasant dinner, we bid our cousins farewell and headed off to our seats. I'll leave the description of the game and Zim's walkoff home run (which I predicted, incidentally) to the professional sports writers. Seats were comfortable but lacking in shoulder room. I don't know how loud the crowd was to players on the field, but it wasn't overwhelming where I sat. Okay, but not outstanding, acoustics for the PA system. I agree with the Brooke Family bloggers that it would be nice to have a full lineup posted -- with uniform numbers and positions.

Getting home was just as easy as getting to the park. A 15-minute walk to the Navy Yard, then less than 45 minutes home. A great first game. Thanks to the Lerners and especially thanks to Ryan Zimmerman.

By Ed Ramras  |  April 2, 2008; 10:20 AM ET  | Category:  Ed Ramras
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Did I see you on the big screen Sunday night? Yellow jacket, red hat? I am certain it was you!

Posted by: Kyra | April 2, 2008 10:27 AM

I agree with Ed that -- at least up in Section 232 -- the crowd noise was underwhelming. My normal seats are down in 241, but friends sat there, and I snagged some seats in the upper region. I figured it would be loud and rocking up there.



I wasn't sure if it was a quiet crowd. I can't imagine that we were quiet -- it was the opening of the new park. But by game time, it was chilly, and by the fourth inning, it was downright cold. Maybe we were all just frozen. But I think maybe the place is just quiet -- a mix of openness (which is normally good) and acoustic characteristics of their construction.

I hope that's not the case.

Ed's also nailed it when he said there's no shoulder room. I found that the seat had enough room for my ample [read: fat] arse, but that I seemed wedged in next to my neighbours.

It should get better as we leave the arctic conditions behind, but it was a little cramped.

Gotta try the kosher concession.

Posted by: 241 Scott | April 2, 2008 10:32 AM

Hi Ed,

I bought a $4 soft pretzel at Base Line Brews -- it was fresh out of the oven, warm and delicious. I wonder how its size compares to the curly W pretzel and whether the $2 premium is for the shape?!


Posted by: Michael Solem | April 2, 2008 10:33 AM

Thanks to an end seat I had plenty of shoulder and leg room, but the rows are soooo long compared to RFK that I was up and down more often than I ever was in a similar seat at RFK. Overall, I really liked the stadium and it reminded me of my visit to San Diego's PetCo Park (including the food & drink prices).

Posted by: Bayma | April 2, 2008 11:44 AM


Yes, it was me. I caught a fleeting glance. One of his friends saw my son up there too. NEW REVENUE GENERATING PLAN FOR THE NATIONALS--Sell DVDs of your mug on the Jumbotron--$10 each, 1000 identifiable people per game=$10,000.

Posted by: Ed Ramras | April 2, 2008 5:19 PM

Getting to and from the Stadium on Sunday was nothing short of excellent. This was definitely not the case on Saturday, as it took us two hours to get from Courthouse to Navy Yard thanks to overcrowded trains, broken trains, and an inexplicable 20 minute wait at L'Enfant Plaza for a Green Line train to the ballpark.

We heard about the same from another ticketholder with us, except that his Green Line train missed Navy Yard entirely and they had to backtrack to drop off passengers.

I hope Sunday's the reality, while Saturday's the aberration, but I fear that Metro will accomplish more Saturdays than Sundays...

Posted by: Tom Bridge | April 2, 2008 11:44 PM

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