A Little More Love for the Ballpark
I thought I would use last week's beautiful spring games to readjust my attitude. On the last home stand, I had become so apoplectic because of the ballpark and its concession problems that I feared for my health, and the safety of others.
Well, my frustration is gone. Poof!
First things first: Nationals Park is a beautiful site. It's a comfortable place to see a ball game. Transportation, while still experiencing growing pains, is working out. Although the Brooke family ran into some Metro problems that show how much needs to be done, a lot of travelers made it to some heavily attended games with no reported riots. The stadium staff is largely friendly. And the Nats Express is still free.
As much as I'd like to offer a punch line, those things are all true. Add to that the unexpected pleasure of seeing the architect's design fully realized; the park really is a comfortable place to stroll. I frequently found myself returning to the "First Base Platform," between sections 221 and 223, and just leaning on a railing, watching the game with the Capitol dome glowing above centerfield. Any walk to a concession stand gives you the chance to stroll over and watch the game from every conceivable angle. You can't underestimate how pleasant that is when you've been to the park a lot, sitting in the same seats.
But inevitably, the walk to a concession stand leads to . . . a concession stand. There, the pleasure ends. This home stand, with the big crowds for the Mets and Cubs, saw the service at concessions unchanged. Even with a line of 20 people or more, the attendant would take an order, then put a hot dog in a bun, then pour a soda. All with a smile, all with some other concession employee just watching. Has the concept of an assembly line wholly escaped Centerplate, the food service concessionaire for the Nats?
As angry as it makes me, and (from my observations) lots of others, my frustration at the food service can't quell my growing appreciation for the park. I might someday actually learn to love it. But I'll do so with my own chow, brought in to protest the shortcomings at concession stands everywhere.
Well, everywhere except the Cantina Marina behind section 240. Apparently, blackened crab cakes and the like aren't ballpark food, since I have yet to encounter a line. So as long as they can stay in business selling me diet sodies three times a game, I have a place to go to escape my frustration. With the tiny lines, I give them a month before they have to pull the plug.
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