Two Down, Three to Go

Scott Watson

As I see it, an aging suburban Virginia baseball fan has five ways to get to Nationals Park: (1) from Virginia, take Metro to the Navy Yard; (2) ride Nats Express from RFK Stadium; (3) Anacostia Metro Park-and-Ride, with a quick trip to Navy Yard; (4) take Metro to a Blue Line stop such as Capitol South, with a short hike; or (5) park up on Capitol Hill, with a long hike.

The two methods I've tried -- taking Metro to Navy Yard and riding the Nats Express -- were pleasant experiences, and I'm hoping the other three will be as well.

I rode Metro from Virginia to the Navy Yard for the Saturday exhibition, and it was a breeze. Of course, arriving three hours early for an under-attended exhibition is probably not the acid test. It did teach me, though, that the Navy Yard station is well-run, with helpful attendants. It's significantly smaller than the cavernous Stadium/Armory stop, so expect to rub elbows with a lot of fans. As I'm sure you've heard, the ballpark exit escalators will be heading UP ONLY before games, and DOWN ONLY after games.

If you're fighting the tide, walk a couple of blocks up M Street to the distant entrance, or face the wrath of Metro. It's a short walk, and you can see the development in the immediate vicinity. For thirty years, the neighborhood was a disaster; it now looks like it could be a real hot spot, like the Penn Quarter. But I digress. . . .

The Nats Express was a breeze. Once the snow plows cleared a spot on Sunday night, we walked by the many happy tailgaters toward the stadium, where six tour buses were waiting. Nats employees counted the number of people to fit on each bus and quickly ushered us in. We sat for no more than three minutes. The bus then slipped onto the Southwest freeway and whisked us to Third and M.

The Nats attendants were incredibly friendly (and so was I), but that led to some grumbling when we got a welcoming speech upon arrival at the park. I think that everyone assembled knew that the big collection of lights, flags and Secret Service agents were decent clues to finding the stadium, but our unnamed "ambassador" took no chances.

Neither of the games so far was typical, and I suspect I got a distorted view of what awaits. But at least I know how to find my way around the obvious options.

I'm eager to try driving to the Anacostia Metro stop and use my mega-cool Nationals Metro SmarTrip card For those of us who feel like we have to drive, that parking lot -- within one Metro stop of the game -- offers a great compromise (at least on paper). If anyone has tried it, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know how it was. Next Wednesday night will be the test run for me.

Later in April, I'll try leaving the car at my Clarendon office building and then take Metro to Capitol South. The walk from there to the ballpark looks scenic [read: ugly], but should only take about 12 to 15 minutes. On a crisp spring night, that will probably be the perfect solution.

And if I need a ride home, maybe I can catch one with Ryan Zimmerman. He's on record as being a big fan of his Clarendon neighborhood, and that makes us neighbors.

What do you mean, you doubt he'll give me a ride?. . .

By Scott Watson  |  April 3, 2008; 7:28 AM ET  | Category:  Scott Watson
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Great line! It was FREEEEZING!

"Once the snow plows cleared a spot on Sunday night..."

Posted by: NatsNut | April 3, 2008 8:43 AM

The walk from Capitol South really is scenic - save for the couple seconds you're actually walking under the freeway. You walk past the Congressional Page quarters, then through a park. It's surprisingly well marked, too. Take a second while you walk under the freeway to appreciate that there is actually a horse stable under there. Strange.

Posted by: Justin | April 3, 2008 8:59 AM

My season ticket group decided to try the reserved parking route. For $35 we expected a garage or adjoining lot. What we got was surface parking 3 blocks away. When I surveyed the lot a week before Opening Day, there were no paved roads to access the Blue Z lot. We were prepared to howl at the the Nationals Organization.

Guess What? The lot appears to be (after 2 games) a real gem. On Sunday night, after the game, I drove out of the lot, stopped for one stop sign, one red light, merged onto I-295, and drove home without delay. WOW!

Posted by: AWWNats | April 3, 2008 9:02 AM

While the businesses on PA Ave and 8th Street will certainly disagree, I know I speak for most residents of the Hill that we are NOT excited by the prospect of hundreds of cars with Virginia or Maryland plates taking what few parking spaces are available for residents - particularly just as we return from work. We had serious problems with people coming into our neighborhood and taking parking on the residential streets around Eastern Market Metro for games at RFK the past couple years.

Thankfully it seems DC has placed some serious restrictions on parking in the neighborhoods on the north side of the freeway for cars without Zone 6 DC parking if you do park over there be aware....

Posted by: HillRat | April 3, 2008 9:33 AM

I've lived on the Hill for 35 years, and totally disagree. The more visitors and foot traffic, the merrier. If you're so worried about your parking space, do what 90% of your neighbors do and leave the car in it when you go to work.

Baseball at RFK gave a lot of people their first chance to really walk around here and see what an amazing neighborhood this is. I'm sure many of them were drawn back to spend time (and money) here on non-game days too.

You live in one of the top 10 residential areas in the entire nation. Do yourself a favor and try to enjoy it.

Posted by: HillPossum | April 3, 2008 11:06 AM

I tried to find the Anacostia garage and it was not evident where it was. It did not appear to be right next to the metro stop itself, and the neighborhood did not encourage me to go exploring. So we drove to RFK and will probably continue to do so.

Posted by: matt | April 3, 2008 8:35 PM

Snow plows, indeed. You've got to love night games in early April.

As Dennis Martinez once said, after pitching on a similar, frigid night at Memorial Stadium: "when it get this cold in Nicaragua, people die, man."

Great blog, by the way.

Posted by: mister s. | April 3, 2008 9:52 PM

Nice to hear the Nats Express is working out so nicely. I don't have a car and live in the district so I won't need to use it myself. But I know that particular option was pretty important to get right.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 4, 2008 9:12 PM

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