Tables, Please!

Emilie Cole

So far this season I've attended games at a wide array of times: Sometimes I'll make it to my seat at the last minute, sometimes arriving a tad late, and once -- on a Friday -- showing up almost two hours early (the Nerd Alert in me thought that everyone would be as excited as I was to score a free Curly-Dubs visor. Apparently, that was not the case and my cautionary planning was a little overdone). That day's early arrival allowed me and my friend to see what Nats Park had to offer in terms of pre-game amusements.

My only complaint? No standing-height tables/surfaces on which to put those beers, fries, halfsmokes, and Build-A-Bears.

Just kidding about the Build-A-Bears (although we did check out that toy store and were appalled that a pair of Bear-sized undies cost more than our own...um...bloomers).

Anywayz, yeah...no standing-height tables. We survived awhile at the upper level of the Red Porch before it became too crowded and then ventured around trying to find another place to chill before going to our seats. Speaking of which, I know we could have just gone there from the get-go, but even though I love my perch in Section 321, I don't think I can be there for more time than the baseball game itself. It turned out that we really couldn't find anywhere else to hang out that was food- and drink-friendly; at one point I was eating out of my Boardwalk Fries cup like it was a trough. And I was still sober at that point, so that's saying a lot.

I know they don't want people crowding and/or blocking the main pavilion, but they already defeated that goal by putting Boardwalk, Hard Times, and Ben's all in one area and people are going to congregate there anyway (which they were doing en masse). So they could provide a great convenience if they sprinkled - throughout that open area and the rest of the park - sets of bar-height tables. Maybe not the pointless small round ones (which one person could end up hogging all to him/herself), but a few 10-footers here and there would be very helpful so if you have to re-Ketchup (catsup?) your fries, you can do so without having to set things on the ground or trying to balance them on awkward body parts.

By Emilie Cole  |  May 2, 2008; 5:16 AM ET  | Category:  Emilie Cole
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Out above centerfield, to the left of the Red Porch if you are facing the field, are three rows of ledges, each about 50 feet long, overlooking the field where you can stand and eat while able to place your food down. I enjoyed my $10 piece of pizza there one game.

Posted by: Fushezzi | May 2, 2008 7:51 AM

Indeed. The area between the Red Loft and the Scoreboard is where you want to go. Standing tables and an AWESOME place to eat, hang out watch batting practice, or just watch people.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 2, 2008 8:20 AM

"And I was still sober at that point, so that's saying a lot."

Glad to hear that you are good with your drinking problem. Not many people come out so easily in a daily newspaper. Frankly, this was not an insight that I especially needed in order to understand the point of your story, but thanks for sharing.

Posted by: SapphicHokieMom | May 2, 2008 8:20 AM

I thought that section in center field was some special "beerpen" or something you need a ticket to get into. If it's not, I'm checking that out this weekend.

One thing the new stadium in Philadelphia has is a standing counter along the back of the sections, so you can stand right behind the section on the concourse and eat while still seeing the action. Something like that might cut down on people heading down the aisles in the middle of at bats and such.

Posted by: sec 1113 | May 2, 2008 8:25 AM

Well all I can say is that after a long work week I do enjoy myself a few beers at a baseball game, and after two or three my level of eating-effort wanes. But thanks for passing judgment anyhow, SapphicHokieMom.

Thanks to the others for their helpful suggestions; I will definitely check out the special standing section at tonight's showing (I've explored that part of the part least since I'm in 321)!

Posted by: Cole | May 2, 2008 9:09 AM

Those three rows of stand-up counters on the scoreboard walk level are apparently part of something called the Miller Lite Beer Pen, which is still in the process of being built out to whatever it is ultimately going to be. I think it will be some sort of corporate party area, meaning that you'd have to be part of that group to get access to those counters. But for now at least they seem to be available to just anyone before and during games, with some exceptions. Last Friday night they were roped off for some Miller Lite event, and I believe I read somewhere that this will be the case every Friday night. But it's worth a shot trying to snag space there to eat if you can get it, because as was pointed out there aren't any other standup tables anywhere in the park. But I do seem to recall in the mockup video they produced last summer when they began the push to sell season tickets and suites that they were showing people standing at tables in the concourse while looking down on the field. So maybe this is one of those aspects of the park in the 5% or so that Stan Kasten has said is not finished yet. Let's hope so, because I'm tired of wearing Ben's chili all over my shirt or pants every time I have a half smoke all the way!

Posted by: Section 419+1 | May 2, 2008 9:40 AM

They should have taken the money spent on that superfluous Curly W clock and the Nationals lettering above the scoreboard and invested it instead in some of the concession areas. And it would be a shame if they made the Miller Light Beer Pen area a special access zone. Last Saturday, I watched the majority of the game from that vantage point and enjoyed it better than my seats in section 205.

Posted by: Annandale Annie | May 2, 2008 10:01 AM

There is a big difference between having a couple of beers at a ball game and becoming "that guy" (or in your case "that girl") who feels a need to be the center of attention among 40,000 strangers. Good thing that my seats are far away from a loud drunk loser like you.

Posted by: SapphicHokieMom | May 2, 2008 12:50 PM

I am completely sober when I yell loudly during baseball games. You see, I am engaged in an activity called "rooting for the home team." You may find a musical reminder of this activity in the interval between the top and bottom of the seventh. Amazingly, some people come to baseball games to enjoy themselves in a boisterous fashion, rather than to submit themselves to the stern, disapproving gaze of sapphic Hokie moms and applaud politely (taking care to avoid excessively enthusiastic clapping) when nice things happen like the end of the game.

Loser.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 2, 2008 5:47 PM

I don't think that anyone is against having a good time at the ball game, enjoying a couple of beers and cheering enthusiastically. Ms. Cole, however, seemed to revel in the fact that she regularly moves past this and it is almost an unusual feeling for her to be sober. The reason a lot of us opt not to take our families to a Redskins or Nationals game is due to young, out of control clowns like Ms. Cole who revel in their drunkenness. I don't think that it is unreasonable to expect that the people sitting around us can refrain from acting like frat boys for a couple of hours.

Posted by: Mike Sorce | May 3, 2008 1:29 AM

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful feedback about the table situation. In any case, I was just making a joke about eating the french fries straight out of the cup rather than having a table to set them on and eat as one normally would.

I'm actually a delightful and thoughtful fellow fan. Feel free to stop by and say hi in 321 some time.

Posted by: Cole | May 4, 2008 2:31 PM

Emilie,

Have you thought about switching from fries and beer to carrot sticks and bottled water for a couple of games? Not nearly as much fine I'm sure, but you won't need to worry about wiping those grease-covered fingers on your jeans. I will gladly share mine if I see you in the stands.

-T

Posted by: The View from 222 | May 5, 2008 9:52 AM

About the topic of this post, I totally agree that more standing tables are needed in the area behind the outfield -- was looking for them just the other day when I tried to sit in the seats out there a good 40 minutes before the game and was told by the usher that since the game was starting "soon" the seats had to be left open for the ticket holders. And the idea of long shelf tables, perhaps at waist height, behind the 100-level sections is great is great too. I've found myself several times having to carry food from Hard Times, for example -- and good forbid I'd been at Five Guys upstairs -- back to my Sec 117, and having it cold by the time I got there.

Posted by: OutsideTheLaw | May 6, 2008 3:04 PM

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