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Ted Lerner's To Do List

Welcome to RFK Stadium and welcome back to Washington, Mr. Lerner. Thanks for the $450 million; here's hoping you're ready to pump lots more into the Nationals and the District. We're thrilled you're not Danny Boy and we're eager to watch as you hire strong leaders to start digging the Washington franchise out of the hole it has fallen into under the long-distance guidance of Major League Baseball.

Today, you get to take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new stadium in Southeast. But it will take enormous skill and luck to get that stadium open by 2008; more likely, 2009 will be the start of action at the new location. Until then, RFK Stadium is home, and man, do you have your work cut out for you there.

In the spirit of helping out, here's a starter To Do list--readers will post their additions below and together, the list will give you a sense of how much has to be done, but also how much both fans and non-fans who live in this region care about making sure that baseball flourishes here.

In no particular order:

--At last night's game, most food stands were shut down in the sixth inning. Through the stadium, fans grumbled about their inability to get a bite to eat in the final hour and a half of the game. Even before that, lines are unconscionably long, primarily because of the slothful pace of too many of the workers. The difference in service time between RFK and Camden Yards stands is dramatic.

--Amazingly, Aramark, the utterly inept food service provider now holding the contract at RFK, has finally added ice cream to the offerings, but the one ice cream cone stand behind home plate shut down at the end of the 5th inning. For the rest of the night, frustrated fans kept walking up to grab a cone, only to be turned away by surly staffers.

--If you do nothing else but get the games on TV, you will be a major piece of the way toward creating a lasting fan base.

--The Nats' radio and TV broadcasters are vastly better this year than last and the broadcasts are a pleasure to listen to and watch. But the stadium announcer remains an embarrassment, regularly mispronouncing names and missing on-field changes. He's got to go.

--Ok, we understand that the stadium scoreboard is too great an expense to replace for the relatively short sojourn at RFK, so we'll just live with the fact that only those with perfect vision can possibly read the thing. But it wouldn't take much to hire a scoreboard operator who actually kept up with the changes on the field and made certain that the scoreboards reflected the current batter and lineup.

--The dwindling crowds at RFK reflect the team's poor performance this year, the lack of TV coverage, and the standard sophomore slump. But they are also a result of the almost total lack of marketing during the off-season. The Nats' new ads are reasonably clever, but the team has to reach out to new audiences. There's no sign of the Nats in local high schools and colleges--that's an easy and essential market to grab hold of. I still go to D.C. high schools where the kids don't have a clue about Nats baseball. As long as you have all those empty seats, why not paper the house and fill them with kids enjoying their first game? Add some music to the mix--a band performing before or after the ballgame--and make it a party.

--The PA system at the ballpark is somewhat better than last year, but only marginally so. The announcements are still mostly inaudible. Investing in a few loudspeakers wouldn't break the bank and you could probably take them with when you move over to the new park.

--How about piping the radio coverage into the stadium bathrooms and the vending concourses? Other teams do it and it makes fans much more willing to go spend half an inning waiting in a queue to purchase or eliminate liquids.

--The Foggy Bottom Ale brewpub was Aramark's best touch last season; now it's gone. Please replace it with something equally local and creative.

---It took half a season of nagging and lobbying to shame Aramark into offering half-smokes last year. Now they're gone. You grew up in D.C. You know half-smokes. Can we please have them back? (And while you're at it, how about a bunch of other stuff from local eateries?)

--Bowden out. ASAP.

--Ok, it wouldn't look good to bounce Frank Robinson mid-season. But when this season ends, a nice graceful retirement from the dugout would be appreciated by all--and keeping Robinson on the payroll to work on spreading the gospel of baseball to the lost generation of black fans would be a sweet touch.

--Soriano is a joy to watch--that tightly coiled swing, the stunningly athletic pre-steroids ballplayer body, the glorious mix of speed and power. But he has value for this team only for another eight weeks or so; start the rebuilding by trading him as soon as possible, when he's at maximum value for a real contender. He should be worth a couple of really strong prospects for the Nats' future.

--Don't give an inch to Marion Barry, Vincent Orange and the other race-baiting politicians who want only to advance their own careers with divisive rhetoric and appeals to the worst in all of us.

--The city clearly has no intention of maintaining the baseball field at Eastern High School, one block from RFK. Adopt it and offer to maintain it yourself, with zero city role. It's the right thing to do, and it might even win over some neighborhood friends.

--Go to the games and walk the stands. Every night.

That's a first cut at a list from me. Readers, please chime in.

By Marc Fisher |  May 4, 2006; 7:13 AM ET
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Comments

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Aramark has got to go - if they do this one thing (in addition to getting the games on the TV) I will be a happy camper. I'm at a loss why stadiums hire these guys - it must be a low bidder thing. The food at the Wizards/Caps games is awful so it should be no surprise that it is as equally bad at RFK.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | May 4, 2006 8:32 AM

If you want local flavor, look no further than Ben's Chili Bowl. We've been dropping by Ben's before the game for a couple of chili dogs, that are far superior to the fare at the stadium. They're cheaper too. And Ben's staff knows how to work FAST. Please, please, please, work out a deal to get Ben's into the stadium.

Posted by: McLean, VA | May 4, 2006 8:57 AM

Very good list, although Lerner would not have known about half Smokes, as they are not kosher.

I'd suggest a more thorough clean-up. It seems that RFK has deteriorated since last year. That is probably very high on the Lerners' agenda. It's the sort of thing that they do.

The previous poster is absolutely correct, Aramark is a disaster. Maybe a Marriott subsidiary can manage to do an adequate job. A&W Root Beer (I think that they still own the franchise), Orange Freezes, and maybe even Mighty Mos (the wet fries may be a bit much for a ballpark).

I do have one question / comment, which the Lerners probably cannot seriously cure. The bathrooms are simply inadequate. Did people have larger bladders in the 50s????

Posted by: Catcher50 | May 4, 2006 9:03 AM

I was born and raised in the area and now live in North Carolina. Along with getting the games on local Comcast networks, I would also like to see more coverage here. Right now we get all Orioles games on our local FSN network, and all Nats games are on ESPN or FSN are blacked out. There are a lot of potential fans in North Carolina and I believe any coverage would greatly benefit the franchise. Also, more marketing of and availability of Nationals memorabilia would be great too. The more you get the brand name out, the more you get out of the product......GO NATS!!!

Posted by: Jason/Wrightsville Beach, NC | May 4, 2006 9:10 AM

Aramark DEFINITELY has to go or at least shape up. When I went to a game on 4/12, they RAN OUT OF BEER CUPS. How much effort would it have taken for one of the 4 slouches working the beer stand to say, "Hey, we're on our last stack of cups, better walk to the supply room and get some more"?

And tell the beer guys to stop fishing for tips. I had to listen to the guy talk to no one in particular about how low attendance is killing the vendors. You're charging me $6 for a bottle of Bud Light. Somewhere in that $3 above fair market value is your tip. Get lost.

Could the new announcer you get after firing the current guy PLEASE announce the official scoring? You know, whether a play was an error, whether it was a passed ball or wild pitch, whether it was fielder's choice? Some people care about all this stuff and sometimes the fans are left guessing.

DON'T start enforcing the rules posted at the gate that say no outside food. Being able to bring a sandwich in with me is a good thing.

DON'T change the uniforms to make a quick buck on merchandise sales, at least not yet. Feel free to make them a little more flashy when the new stadium opens.

Posted by: jw | May 4, 2006 9:14 AM

There are 2 things that need to be fixed: First, very few of the players are accessible to the fans. Require them to at least sign autographs before the game and during batting practice. Secondly, why is the stadium closed during the Nationals batting practice? Batting practice, with players signing autographs, is one of the best experiences of a game and is sorely lacking for the Nationals. Having the two would build a bridge to fans of this generation and future generations.

Posted by: John R | May 4, 2006 9:20 AM

Ben's Chili Bowl.

Posted by: Washington, D.C. | May 4, 2006 9:31 AM

Given the state of the Nats batting, I don't think requiring them to sign autographs during batting practice is a good idea. Maybe focus on hitting.

We get your point about half-smokes, which really aren't any good to begin with, and I, a 45 year DC resident, never associated them with DC until you started harping on them and ice cream. Watch the game, geez.

At least nobody has harped on the mascot yet. As an adult, there is nothing I care about less than the mascot. I see him running around, and the kids seem to like him. Mission accomplished.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 9:38 AM

Get rid of Screeech!!!

Posted by: Ashburn | May 4, 2006 9:38 AM

Promise now that you will bring in the left and right foul lines a few feet in the offseason - if nothing else, that should help mollify Jose Vidro & Jose Guillen this year.

Open a Nationals office downtown - a convenient place to buy tickets and souvenirs. Buying and picking up tickets at RFK is a situation which needs to be improved.

Posted by: Tenleytown | May 4, 2006 9:41 AM

Make sure the sight-lines at the new ball park are like RFK's - all seats pointing toward a spot approximately 25 feet behind second base, the center of the playing field/action - and not like the aesthetically charming but functionally ridiculous retro stadiums like Camden Yards. The new stadiums have angular seating allowing some seats to point in the best direction, but others requiring the fan in the stands to crane his/her neck to see the action or else sit sideways in their seats. RFK, though out of date, was built for baseball, not football, and with the sight-lines as they are, with the rows of seating stretched in a long continuous curve, it is a real pleasure to watch a baseball game in RFK... from any seat in the stadium.

Posted by: Don Fraser | May 4, 2006 9:49 AM

I think MLB's handling of the Nats is criminal.They made 330 millions dollars profit and didn't spend anything on the team or the city. Thats bullying the fans, and the council with their hidden agendas and money gouging.Why would MLB try to make a profit on the team and make the fans pay for the stadium when the price could have been the true value of the team which is probably around 120 million and have the new owner chip in on the stadium. Thats what a league that is pro fan would do. I hope this venture is not doomed to fail by the powers that be (selig).

Posted by: Mo | May 4, 2006 9:50 AM

Change whatever flavoring syrup is used in the snow cones. Last season I found out the hard way, before a business meeting, that eating one of the purple snow cones meant having bright purple lips for three days. And where it accidentally touched my pants - a bright purple stain that took several washings to get out.

It's funny when you're a kid. Not so funny when you have a presentation later that day.

Surely there are flavoring syrups out there that don't stain everything they touch.

Posted by: Hillman | May 4, 2006 9:52 AM

I agree with just about everything but the major points are this:

1) TV Deal / local PR to inner city schools. Frank Robinson should be the guy next year to do this. He is a powerful figure and as classy as they come. Kids will love the Grampa-esque Robinson and his Baseball stories.

2) Aramark / Bowdon have to go. I know Bowdon has done a bit with nothing but still....he does not understand the term "Due Diligence". Do some homework Jim, it might pay off.

3) Get a handle on the GMP for the new stadium and quick. Don't let the city cheapen up the place and get the parking garages UNDERGROUND. It will cost some money but all parking should be underground. This will provide more Destination Retail and a family-fun environment for years to come.

4) Take note of how Dan Snyder does up game day. Even though FedEx is in the middle of nowhere, they have bands, food, fun...it's a blast going to a Skins game...even if its in MD.

5) Soriano...this is a tough one. At $10 million +, he has got to bring in some real talent. I love Soriano (did not when he came in but he's the real deal). He's the PERFECT player for a franchise. He's fun, plays hard, smiles, and is great with the fans. The problem is, he's about $5 million over-paid and the price is not going down. He will bolt anyway so lets get maximum value at the right time. Stan Kaston will do it right.

6) Did I say Bowdon has to go? Hire me....even I could order some research on shoulders (Lawrence) or talk, man to man, to a player and see if he is willing to work at another position (Soriano) as well as understand that "work environment" means more than new clubhouses. A person who is difficult to be around promotes negativity....GET GUILLEN OUT. He's a good player but he's mailing it in now without a contract. Mr. Lerner, sir, no one holds me hostage for anything and I don't think people make your mind up for you so I implore you, trade Jose too. Also, as much as I love Vidro, he's got value. Lets get young, fast, and lets pitch. After all, you can have all the hitters you want....your still going to get killed in the playoffs (Yankees).

Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Oh...also....put Church in Center Field and hit him 6th. He's a young Jim Edmonds (without the guts) if I have ever seen one.

-Nats Fan, Lars Zachariasse

Posted by: Lars Zachariasse | May 4, 2006 9:58 AM

I agree that Ben's Chili Bowl would be a good addition; the staff understands what customer service is. Also that people should still be allowed to bring in outside food, within reason.

A lot of the current vendor staff at RFK are INCREDIBLY slow, and should either have their attitudes adjusted, or be invited to find employment elsewhere.

Posted by: Carla M | May 4, 2006 9:58 AM

I am a D.C. expat living in St. Louis, and have yet to make it back home to catch the Nats at RFK. (I did take my daughter to see the Nats against the Cardinals this past Saturday.) So I have no personal RFK experience and, perhaps, no firm basis to comment, but I did want to address jw's complaint about the beer vendors fishing for tips.

As a onetime beer vendor here in St. Louis, I can tell jw that the beer guys likely get very little of the "$3 over fair market value." The vendors will typically get a small commission on each sale -- and I mean small -- with the rest of the sizeable markup going to "the house." (When I was a vendor at what is now called the Savvis Center here in St. Louis, more than a decade ago, the beers cost $3.75 -- tells you how long ago that was -- and we got 50 cents for each one we sold. That's 13% by my math.)

Personally, I think beer vendors shouldn't fish for tips. I didn't do it myself. And fans should feel free to tip or not, either as service warrants or to help ensure prompt return trips by a particular vendor. But that decision should be based on service, rather than the notion that the server is being overcompensated via a huge markup.

Posted by: Dave | May 4, 2006 10:07 AM

Please open up all ticket booths and expedite the sales at the stadium- it took a 45 minute wait in line to get tickets & we did not get into the stadium until the 4th inning. Concessions are atrocious and parking and other prices went up while service went down compared to last year & it was bad then. Ticket takers are good & friendly- obviously not associated with Aramark. At the rain-delayed game with Atlanta when Soriano hit 3 HRs, no beer was served after 10 pm- it was the 4th inning!

Posted by: Dave Kelch | May 4, 2006 10:08 AM

I agree with everyone's suggestions. My BIGGEST piece of advice to the Lerner group is to always seek the advice of the fans. Do what Ted Leonsis has done for the Caps. When he bought the team, he listened to the fans suggestions and made over 100 changes to the game experience which the fans wanted. Although the product on the ice hasn't been stellar, the game experience is simply one of the best in the NHL. Leonsis is by far the most approachable owner in DC. I think the same can be done with the Nats if they simply listen to the fans. Ted, Stan, Mark and the others MUST talk to the fans every night and allow them to voice their opinions. After all, this team is our investment too.

CONGRATS to the Lerner Group!!!

Posted by: Kevin | May 4, 2006 10:17 AM

ARAMARK is a disaster. At last nights game, my friend lent one of the concession workers her lighter - and she literally ran off with it. Took off right down the concourse!! This is completely unacceptable. Wonder why attendance is down? Not to mention the on-the-field problems, the experience at RFK just isn't worth it. And with surly ARAMARK employees stealing stuff from fans, its not going to get any better. This is from a season ticket holder who is starting to regret my deicision to renew.

Marc I agree with many of your points, but half-smokes? Come on. No one really eats those -just tourists on Constitution Ave. who don't know any better.

Posted by: Colin | May 4, 2006 10:21 AM

FIVE GUYS BURGERS AND FRIES!! They also make a mean hotdog.

Posted by: Randy | May 4, 2006 10:26 AM

I just have one word:

vegetarian

Comment on the one word:

Ben's Chili Bowl has excellent vegetarian chili!

Posted by: thumper | May 4, 2006 10:27 AM

I buy half-smokes at Eastern Market and do 'em on the grill. Them's good eatin'. Nats should do the same.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 4, 2006 10:28 AM

Great list Mark, especially the admonition to walk the stands, and I think the poster's suggestion of Ben's Chili Bowl is BRILLIANT!

One additional thing: Call, personally, as many of the non-renewing season ticket holders as you can (the Post reported it's down to 22,000 from 16,000). Find out why. Find out what you can do to get them back (and prevent losing others). It will be time well spent, providing both immediate and long-term returns.

Posted by: Meridian | May 4, 2006 10:30 AM

Many, many good points above. You got a good base to start with Mr. Lerner. Now, I just hope that you see this yourself, or at least someone shows it to you and your group (how could this NOT happen??).

As far as the "Snowcone Businessman" above, ignore him. You're pretty much asking for it by eating a purple snowcone BEFORE a business presentation. I sure hope his quarterly report to Barney & Friends went well.

Posted by: Kyle | May 4, 2006 10:40 AM

Bring in Old Dominion Brewing to the space formerly occupied by Foggy Bottom Brewing.

Posted by: flunky | May 4, 2006 10:42 AM

Fight for a real stadium design. Don't allow that hideous committee-wrecked monstrosity of mediocrity to be built. I don't know who's profiting from that scam but you'll ultimately be the one that suffers most. You've got to assert yourself with the clown council now, while you still have a honeymoon of sorts with the people.

I also second the motion to drop Screeeech. Everyone knows DC's mascot is the giant pander.

Posted by: athea | May 4, 2006 10:51 AM

So these days it's all about the secondary attractions at Baseball games. I have a young nephew who has a hard time paying attention to an entire baseball game. I noticed at last years All-Star game the stadium in Detroit had a carosel, the Brewers have that slide in the outfield.
Why not have some of that at the new statium? Maybe a carosel with some local flair, elephants and donkeys instead of horses for instance. I know there is some space in the stadium set aside for a picknic area. Why not put it there?

Posted by: Kris | May 4, 2006 10:52 AM

I am sure that with the new ownership that many improvments in the overall team, advertising, and RFK Stadium will be forthcoming, but most of these will not happen overnight.

The most important thing at this point that can have the most positive impact for the Nationals, is for the Lerner's and their group to bring as much influence and pressure to bear as possible to fix the TV broadcast situation and to insure that we do not go another entire season without having most of the games available on Comcast Cable systems throughout the area.

Posted by: JWC | May 4, 2006 10:57 AM

One of the nice things I love about RFK is before the game there is a really nice picic going on outside the Stadium with all the tailgating. Even at the redskin games this a great tradition. Please provide and area near the new stadium for the tailgate crowd.

Posted by: Bob, Alexandria, VA | May 4, 2006 11:02 AM

One other thing. Open tryouts for announcer. No one likes the current stadium announcer. Even better, let the fans get involved and choose the announcer American Idol style.

Posted by: Kris | May 4, 2006 11:05 AM

I suggest making the changes from the bottom up. But first, Mr. Lerner you must reward the fans that go to RFK to support the Nats. Give that sorry Aramark operation it's walking papers pronto. Sure baseball is about bats and balls, pitchers and hitters, and pretty green fields, but it's also about the food and the drinks. In this time of rebuilding it would not be a bad thing to hear a fan say, "The Nats aren't that good yet, but going to the game is fun and the food is pretty good."
Good luck, and go Nats!

Posted by: Mann in DC | May 4, 2006 11:05 AM

Reopen the RFK access road off of I295. This provided great access to and from the stadium last year. This year, it is closed and makes it much harder to get into and out of the stadium.

Posted by: Tex Miller | May 4, 2006 11:11 AM

In no particular order:

--Guarantee that current season ticket holders will maintain their seat locations in the new stadium, show them where their seats WILL be based on the current rendering/design.

--Display a scale model of the new stadium on in RFK

--Change the uniforms (go for a more classic look) and the team logo (it looks like a cheap beer label). Instead, create a logo that identifies the Nats with Washington DC (like the old Senators had with the Capitol dome). The interlocking "DC" hats should be the standard, not the alternate. "W" means nothing... DC connects the team with the city

--Install a self-supporting backstop such that fans in the upper deck can see the field without a series of thick cables in their sightline.

--Jettison Aramark. From the fare to the personnel, they're absolutely terrible.

--Wait a few years, and then sue Angelos and MLB to re-claim your TV rights

--Sign smart veteran players on the downside of their careers to help form a winning culture among the young guys and draw fans (e.g., Greg Maddux) Sign one superstar that the young fans can idolize over the next three rebuilding years

--Read Boswell's 2005 column on remodeling RFK like Busch stadium

--Significantly lower ticket prices in the outfield upper deck (no one is actually going to buy those seats), while at the same time, maintain more diligence enmforcing that folks sit in their assigned sections.

--Stop shooting off fireworks during day games... Use the savings instead to shoot MORE fireworks at night games

--Retire the numbers of Old Washington Senators/Nationals greats, making them honorary alumni of the current franchise (perhaps use their Washington stats as the benchmark for team records). There's a lot of baseball history in this town; let's put it front and center.

--Get rid of the trash bag "ring of honor" banner hanging in right field.

Posted by: Ted K. (Season Ticket Holder) Washington DC | May 4, 2006 11:12 AM


PLEASE DON'T RAISE PRICES ANY TIME SOON.

I understand and respect the fact your family just shelled out $450M to claim responsibility for this team. But prices for parking and many of the seats already went up 15-20% this season over last. I think most other fans would agree with me when I plead with you not to assess the fans for all the improvements requested above. At least not immediately. I think it might backfire a bit.

Posted by: Paul | May 4, 2006 11:14 AM

Add a "scalp-free" zone like Baltimore...

Posted by: Section 312 Row 4 | May 4, 2006 11:15 AM

Lets have some marketing and promotions for the government employees. The business man's lunch and special events to meet the ballplayers.

Posted by: RC K Street | May 4, 2006 11:16 AM

You probably have a contract with the food vendor that cannot be broken but you sure as heck can assign your employees to check, on a nightly basis, their performance. The attitude of many of the employees is horrible and it is no wonder that the attendence is down. Last year a woman began shouting at me because I questioned why my hot dog was stone cold.

You also need to expand the radio network as soon as possible. Everyone thinks that the 1500AM 50,000 watt signal is wonderful but guess what? It isn't. It barely reaches Germantown at night and without radio you have nothing and people won't come. Last year you had WAGE in Leesburg which penatrated Montgomery County where a large portion of your fan base is from.

Get hot on the minor league system. If it means putting two Class A teams within a hundred miles of Washington then do it. Hagerstown is struggling and that would be a good first stop.

Your malls and other properties are spotless. The employees are helpful and crime is non existent. I am sure that you can do the same for the stadium and the surrounding area.

Posted by: Jack | May 4, 2006 11:21 AM

Speaking of getting rid of Screech...I heard the Potomac Nationals use an Uncle Sam like mascot named "Uncle Slam."

I love it! But anything other than stupid bird...

Posted by: Chevy Chase | May 4, 2006 11:25 AM

I like this posters idea..."One other thing. Open tryouts for announcer. No one likes the current stadium announcer. Even better, let the fans get involved and choose the announcer American Idol style."

What you could do is have 9 finalists, and then select one game where each finalist announces an inning and then at the end of the game have an emcee and a local band or some entertainment then have the voting.

Would be a fun day...

Posted by: KG | May 4, 2006 11:29 AM

It has been a long wait for proper ownership, and to once again enjoy a real baseball experience in Washington. I too remember the Senator's games at Griffith Stadium. I followed the team to the then new RFK Sadium, and used to pay the price for skipping school to be a part of the opening day experience there. When the Senators left I turned my back on baseball. My Father and I missed the game in our city so much that, with little or no money he decided to try and bring the baseball experience back by starting and organizing his own team, which is now the Class-A Potomac Nationals. Having seen and been a part of the job of starting a team from scratch I can imagine what a chore Mr. Lerner has in getting the Nationals to the level everyone wants and expects. I feel confident he has in place the tools needed to do a fine job. Now I see that process starting and look forward to the day when the real baseball experience will be back in D.C.

Posted by: Eugene Thomas, Jr. | May 4, 2006 11:32 AM

I agree with all these suggestions. Ditch Aramark, bring in some better choices (like 5 Guys), work on better signage and marketing, and make it fun for fans to come to a game! We love baseball and are relatively easy to please. I'm not an Orioles fan, but going to a game at Camden is just plain fun. Make Nats games just as fun!

Posted by: Natalie | May 4, 2006 11:34 AM

Two words: Infield Practice.

And Five Guys would be a nice touch.

Posted by: Paul | May 4, 2006 11:40 AM

Excellent list, Mark, I agree with almost all of it.

In addition, John R., I've found the Nationals to be a very good autograph signing team when compared to the rest of baseball.

Posted by: Rocket1124 | May 4, 2006 11:49 AM

More clever marketing. How come the current series isn't being touted as "The Marlons versus the Marlins"? After all, we've got the only two Marlons in baseball history.

But seriously folks... since the food at RFK is scarces and lousy, publicize the fact that you can bring your own. Set up tailgate contests, etc.

Posted by: Pedro the Nats fan | May 4, 2006 11:54 AM

Great suggestions re local food to RFK (Ben's & Five Guys). We could also add California Tortilla, Rocklands (even though Red Hot & Blue is already there), some form of Clydes. Variety is the key! Getting pleasant vendors is critically important to the atmosphere and overall experience -- and can be done immediately! How about taking a page from Seinfeld and making them wear name tags -- added pressure to be on good behavior so as to avoid a report with his/her name on it. Go Nats!

Posted by: Section 130 | May 4, 2006 12:10 PM

Here is an easy one. Put hand rails in the aisles in the upper deck. Its steep and uneven and a death trap. Watching someones mom fall or have to go down on their but is horrible.

Posted by: jrlemx | May 4, 2006 12:13 PM

Designate Screech for assignment. Call up Uncle Slam from the Class A Potomac Nationals. He's ready for The Show.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:25 PM

These are great suggestions, and there certainly are a lot of them. I know the Lerners have a lot of money. I hope they have a lot of energy too!

But seriously, it's clear that people care about the Nats and the conditions at RFK. The Lerner family could earn a lot of fan loyalty by beginning to make visible changes both on the field and off sooner rather than later.

Posted by: THS | May 4, 2006 12:39 PM

I am always amazed how the ushers are so unfriendly at RFK and never take the time to even show you where the your seat is located. They do not treat you like a value customer.

Posted by: BC | May 4, 2006 12:40 PM

This may sound silly, but from the right or left field upper decks, the cables holding the backstop is easily confused with the foul line. Paint it green.

Posted by: Robert Buckman | May 4, 2006 12:49 PM

Love the idea, but Five Guys has a very, very specific business model that doesn't even come close to a stadium business vending deal. Ben's is great, but they'd be handling way more traffic at RFK than on U Street...wonder if they'd be up to it.

I think everyone agrees re: Aramark. Some aren't bad (think Blue Moon beer lady in right field), but most of the food vendors are an affront to the very concept of service.

Love the Hagerstown idea. It's a wonderful ballpark. Same with the P-Nats in Prince William County. Invest in the minors and build the next generation of players (and fans). Went last Friday and dropped about $50 for tickets, food and beer for three. Can't beat that!

I wish the Lerners well from the bottom of my heart. Goooo Nats!

Posted by: Scott R | May 4, 2006 12:50 PM

If you're willing to walk a bit, there's a decent selection of quality, if non-local beers on the lower concourse (Red Hook, Guinness, Kirin). But the selection upstairs is weak--almost all of it is the usual Bud/Bud Lite/Coors beer-flavored water. (I found one stand pouring Dos Equis about halfway around the stadium from my seats.) Liven up that selection, please--and like somebody else said, GIVE US OLD DOMINION ON TAP!

Posted by: Section 519 | May 4, 2006 12:59 PM

Lots of local minor league affiliation. We could use a team out in Loudoun County (the fastest growing in the country). Minor League baseball can be the feeder to get people to come see the big club, injured players can be easily rehabbed locally, and it builds a regional Nats identity.

Posted by: rich kolker | May 4, 2006 1:00 PM

Rebuild the Eastern HS baseball field, but don't stop there. Refurbish or build new ball fields in the SE neighborhood that will host the new stadium (and all around the DC community). Offer kids free clinics on baseball with major league players. Grow a love for baseball in DC. Have kids get in free for some games. Sell $1 hot dogs for kids (or let little leagues sell hot dogs in a specific section to raise money. Let little leagues play a 2 inning game before the Nats game or a 2 inning T-ball game in left field. Grow interest. Provide local bands/high school bands to play before games (do something to get people to show up before the 2nd inning). Have a roving camera catch people who are on their PDA's and cell phones during the game and embarass them. Sell local foods like crab cake sandwiches from the guy who operates out of the small trailor at the Maine Ave waterfront. Give the promotional prizes to the fans in the upper deck "cheap" seats instead of the fans in the expensive seats. Have the stadium workers wear blue or red instead of green. As distasteful as it seems, a working relationship with Angelos and the Orioles could be a big win for both teams. American and National league baseball is two different styles, promoting the other local team games and package deals featuring tickets to both teams could be a popular item with baseball the ultimate winner. Offer day/night double headers with a day game at one stadium and a night game at the other. Get on TV more. Get involved with the stadium project, make sure we get a stadium worthy of a world champion team and city. Go after character in your ball players and then have them interface with the community, fans and kids. Grow the team from the ground up with a strong minor league system. Bring in some of the baseball greats to greet and meet fans, Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Cal Ripken, Frank Howard, Manager Frank Robinson, etc. Show highlights from Washington Baseball history on the scoreboard. Reach out to the history of the Negro Leagues and honor them at a weekend series. Grow the team slowly through the farm system, have players that will be identified as Nationals for life.

Posted by: Don | May 4, 2006 1:02 PM

1. Never (at RFK and new stadium) prevent people from bringing food. You will always make plenty of money from vendor sales, but allows vegetarians, dieters, and fans who are on a serious budget to still attend the games.


2. Drastically improve service to season (and partial season) ticket holders. No more mailing out the tickts days before the opener.

3. Have a serious fan appreciation day. Last year, it was "thank you fans" over the PA.

Posted by: mm | May 4, 2006 1:05 PM

Get the games on TV ASAP...out of sight, out of mind.

Posted by: Mike, Arlington | May 4, 2006 1:05 PM

Let's hope the Lerners don't bring their smashmouth business tactics into play in their dealings with the fans. Also, this businsess they are entering is very, very difficult, although profitable, and they should not make empty promises about making the postseason soon. MLB, Jeffrey Loria and Montreal owners stripped this franchise of its formerly first rate farm system; in fact, it is not an exaggeration to say the Expos franchise has been gang-raped the past decade.

Let's remember who caused the baseball strike which deprived Montreal of their best team ever (the '94 Expos had a six game lead on the Braves in mid-August when the strike hit); two louses and pals named Allan W. Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf, who were actually put in charge of selecting the franchises new owners, after they did everything they could to ruin and eliminate this team the past decade.

I like the comment about Gordon Gecko in the movie Greed; here the public in this area has built the nasty Lerners up from nothing, and now the same public is subsidizing a stadium for these characters, so they can make even bigger money off the public fascination w/ baseball.

Let Tom "Sycophancy" Boswell applaud the Lerners; he ought to be on the Post's political desk w/ that sucking up to power and money in today's column. We fans ought to be very wary of them.

Posted by: Singleton | May 4, 2006 1:07 PM

One more suggestion -
Keep fans and vendors out of aisles during play - People either aren't paying attention to the game (could be dangerous) or stop to watch the game and block the view!

Posted by: Fan! | May 4, 2006 1:13 PM

I would like to heartily second the suggestion of a Scalp Free Zone. In days gone by I used the Zone at Camden Yards and got some great seats. Best of luck to the new owners.

Posted by: Section 213 | May 4, 2006 1:20 PM

Mr. Lerner,

Please make sue Marc gets a big bowl of Dippin Dots!

Posted by: Worker Bee | May 4, 2006 1:21 PM

Mr. Lerner,

Please make sure Marc gets a big bowl of Dippin Dots!

Posted by: Worker Bee | May 4, 2006 1:21 PM

Look no more for the Mascot replacement. We'll just get Clinton Portis to come to the games as South East Jarome. Can't get much more local than that.

Posted by: Kris | May 4, 2006 1:33 PM

1. Swap Triple A affiliates with Atlanta so they get New Orleans and we get Richmond. (I live in Richmond now and have never been to an R-Braves game.)
2. I think the Giant Panda mascot mentioned above is a wonderful idea. Spread it as a city symbol, lots of potential there.
3. I'm sure you'll have your lawyers go over the contract with Aramack. Just try to treat them like they've treated us and things will be fine.

Posted by: Mike from Richmond | May 4, 2006 1:35 PM

Adding to those ideas above...

1 - Hire more staff immediately. It sounds like 98% of the problems people are mentioning (poor attitude, long waits, etc) are due to staff being stretched thin and doing the work of too many people.

2 - Find some way to honor former Expos greats (Carter, Dawson, Raines, Staub, Rogers, etc etc). Fans ought to be made aware that this team had a history before it moved to DC.


Posted by: Max | May 4, 2006 1:39 PM

Find some way to honor former Expos greats (Carter, Dawson, Raines, Staub, Rogers, etc etc). Fans ought to be made aware that this team had a history before it moved to DC. No, they belong to Montreal. Much like Johnny Unitas did not want to be associated with Indianapolis.

Take note of how Dan Snyder does up game day. Even though FedEx is in the middle of nowhere, they have bands, food, fun...it's a blast going to a Skins game...even if its in MD. God NO! The last thing we need is the fake atmosphere found at Fed-Up Field!

Add a "scalp-free" zone like Baltimore. YES!

Bring in Old Dominion Brewing to the space formerly occupied by Foggy Bottom Brewing. YES! Another good one!


Posted by: JF in Arlington | May 4, 2006 2:38 PM

Start the weekday afternoon games at 3:05 instead of 1:05. That way some of us can use only a couple hours of leave instead of a half-day. Also, the game will be over as rush hour is ending, not as it begins.

There should be a specific ticket office representative dedicated to each account holder to answer questions and help with any ticketing issues.

Posted by: Cosmo | May 4, 2006 2:45 PM

Forgot this, and I can't believe nobody's mentioned this before--play some of D.C.'s own music, not the same stuff you hear in other ballparks (I'm thinking in particular of the horribly derivative idea of playing "Sweet Caroline").

Here are a few recommendations to start:

* Chuck Brown's "Bustin' Loose" MUST be on the playlist--put it on after the seventh-inning stretch, like they did at the home opener last year.

* Speaking of the Godfather of Go-Go, "Saturday Night Fish Fry" ought to be played once during any game against the Marlins.

* Fugazi's "Waiting Room" during pitching changes. How can you not?

Posted by: Section 519 (again!) | May 4, 2006 2:53 PM

- Ignore the anti-Screech comments. Children absolutely light up around him.

- The uniforms are fine -- I really like that shade of red, too. But enforce uniformity -- either everyone's in stockings or full length pants, but no more mix & match.

- More beer sellers on the mezzanine level.

- How about a nice big banner in center field proclaiming "Washington Nationals -- 1924 World Champions"?

Posted by: Georgetown | May 4, 2006 3:16 PM

I am a professional Latina who has never had much interest in professional sports, but I became a big Nats fan after attending a couple of games last year. There truly is nothing like a live sports event to spark enthusiasm. My suggestions:

- there are several Latinos in the team, and I could not bear to hear the announcer massacre their names. Please ensure the announcers know how to pronouce everyone's name correctly- whether they are Latinos, Japanese, or whatever. Names are important both personnally and professionally (they're branding)- use them correctly.

- Work with those Latino players, and any others who would be interested, in doing outreach and PR to the local Latino community. It is big and diverse- it ranges from blue-collar workers to diplomats, and I can envision many different types of events. Many Latinos are soccer fans and already know the way to RFK. There's a hook there- use it.

- The last game I went to last season, I went by myself. The path to the 2nd metro entrace for the stadium was scary-extremely dark, and the sidewalks were in bad shape. I wasn't necessarily worried for my personal safety as there were tons of people walking in that direction, but I did worry about breaking an ankle or something. Work with the city to improve lighting and access to the larger stadium area.

- Last year I missed the opportunity to attend an afternoon game, and I was looking forward to going this seasone- but this year there are very few of those. I liked the idea someone proposed about starting the games mid-afternoon. More of those on the schedule during spring time, please!

Posted by: MEL, Alexandria VA | May 4, 2006 3:26 PM

Obviously I echo the Aramark comments (last night I had to wait to get a Killians while the worker was chatting/smoking with her friends) and the Screech comments (last night Screech came into seating area and proceeded to perform one of the most disturbing beer belly dances I've ever seen, gave me nightmares).

Focus on pitching and make sure the new GM doesn't trade for pitchers with glass shoulders!

Comcast (already the worst cable company in an unfortunately competition-less area) has got to be leaned on, as does Angelos and MASN. No games on TV is criminal.

Finally, FIRE ARAMARK AND TELL OTHERS TO DO THE SAME!!! I have gone to hundreds of sporting events with Aramark concessions and have never had a positive experience with them. What kind of qualifications does it take to get hired by them?!?! Former Comcast employees???

GO NATS!!

Posted by: Adam J | May 4, 2006 3:45 PM

Let fans bring peanuts, like at Orioles games.

Posted by: Natsfan | May 4, 2006 3:46 PM

Sell a 100% cotton Nats polo shirt. I'm too old to wear a t-shirt and too fat to bake in polyester. You don't want to sit behind me in August. XXL and XXXL sizes, please.

Get rid of the promotions that are handed out to the "first 10,000 fans". I can't always get to a game early, but I paid for my ticket, so why can't I get some loot?

Sell cheap popsicles, so I can treat a group of kids.

Posted by: Natsfan | May 4, 2006 3:57 PM

Add a fantasy baseball scoreboard so if the game is a snoozer, it gives us something to look at. Dunno how it would work, though.

Fans love home runs. As a promotion, how about a pregame Nats home run derby where fans can catch the balls? Maybe get it signed after the game?

Field an all-Japanese team. Sign a midget (Thank you Bill Veeck).

Posted by: Natsfan | May 4, 2006 4:06 PM

Scorecards: Last year they started at $10!!
I screamed. Later it was reduced to $5, but that is still ridiculous. I suggest an alternative: Give every paying fan a FREE scorecard! Theaters do it. The scorecards are full of advertising anyway.
As (you can see) a compulsive scorekeeper, I second the recommendations above that all scoring decisions and all player substitutions be announced and that players ' names be pronounced correctly by the announcer.
The uniforms are ugly, but if management wants to wait for the new stadium on that one, it's OK with me.

Posted by: FrayFelipe | May 4, 2006 4:12 PM

If you want some more in-game ideas, go to a Wizards game. Whoever's in charge of keeping the fun rolling is doing a great job. I particularly enjoy their "Kiss-Cam", where they put a couple on the jumbotron and try to get them to kiss. Dancing kids are also fun.

Don't forget the ladies. My wife won't go to a Skins or a Wizards game, because they're too macho and rowdy-loud, but she likes the genteel pace of a Nats outing.

Posted by: Natsfan | May 4, 2006 4:19 PM

I normally go for half-smokes at games, but occasionally I'd like to have some healthy food options. There's a Burrito Brothers at the stadium, but for a whopping $8 you get a tiny pre-made burrito that's mostly filled with rice, which pales in comparison to the huge ones you can get from their conventional stores for less than six bucks. It's a lousy deal.

Posted by: Don Chen | May 4, 2006 4:24 PM

MLB should work in exhibition games during the season with pro teams from other countries. The do it in soccer all the time. Who wouldn't want to see the Nats vs. the Dominican Republic? Vs. the Osaka Buffalos?

I personally would get rid of Screeeeeetch, because we're not the friggin' Orioles, hon. Baltimore is for the birds. How 'bout a dancing Washington Monument?

Posted by: Natsfan | May 4, 2006 4:26 PM

Lerner,

If you've read this many comments, I'll be impressed. But for what it's worth, let's examine the recurring themes here.

There is no question that the food service is horrible. Both in offerings and staff. This isn't to say that it's better at MCI or anywhere else; but it's important to realize that it takes effort to get to RFK and people don't have other food options like they have in Chinatown. Their other option is not to come. You have a GREAT opportunity for the next 3 years to figure out which vendor pleases the fans before offering a longer term contract for the new stadium.

Not many people here seem to realize that you will not be able to have a rock concert and fireworks after every game. The Danny has 8 games to worry about, Ted and Abe each have 41, and you have 81.

But what you should hear from these people wanting more than just baseball is that the product is not going to continue to be enough to drive people to these games. The location of RFK is dreadful for those people who are actually coming. Metro can't seem to function during daily rush hour let alone special events like a baseball game. So you are going to have to provide some reason to get fans to the game besides the 9 innings they pay for. Not every night, but DC has high expectations.

Think about what has made other area parks successful. Baltimore and Philly have added tons of local flavor to their games. Parking is also pretty easy at those stadiums, depending on who you talk to. Their stadiums have games, mini-museums, attached sit-down restaurants with views. These are reasons to come check out a game. And to keep coming back again and again.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | May 4, 2006 4:28 PM

Having spent most of my life in Chicago and DC, I'm a loyal Cubs fan, but would do just about anything to support DC baseball. I attended about 20 games last year and am on pace to do likewise this season, although the excitement isn't quite the same and the service is abysmal. Mr. Lerner could learn a few things from the Cubs marketing department. An afternoon game in the middle of the week is a wonderful way to build up a loyal fanbase. Attendees are more than happy to call in sick to work and they will be grateful for the midday amusement. I was at the home opener at RFK (on a Tuesday afternoon). That should be repeated, especially in August when those of us not on vacation, can easily slip away for an afternoon in the sun.

The Cubs also benefit from the surrounding experience. Eastern Market isn't Wrigleyville and won't become it so long as another stadium in a different location is on the horizon, but Mr. Lerner could reach out to neighborhood businesses. It isn't a terrible walk, and if you recieved half off your first drink or free appetizers, it might get local businesses on your side, draw a few more fans to the game and strenghthen the overall experience.

Finally, Lerner is a likable character, the grandfather figure observing the club with childish enthusiasm. If nothing else, he has a lot more charisma than MLB. Go to the games, walk around in the crowd, become part of the fan experience. I can't think of a better mascot.

Posted by: Jon | May 4, 2006 4:57 PM

Not sure if this violates W Post blog policy, but the below link is to the Ballparkguys Washington Nationals discussion thread on the same topic, where some really excellent ideas have been posted.

The best, in my opinion, relate to prominently honoring (i.e. statues at the new ballpark) the greats of yesteryear's Washington Senators and Homestead Grays, who represent DC baseball heritage.

http://www.ballparkguys.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=41;t=009438;p=1

Separately, I have long thought that Clyde's is a really classy local chain, that could do an excellent job with the restaurant location above centerfield in the new stadium plan.

Posted by: SBB | May 4, 2006 5:05 PM

I have never seen anyone so slow as the people dishing out the Red Hot 'n Blue barbeque. It must take them five minutes to fill each order. I mean, seriously, by myself I could easily serve people more quickly than the entire four or five people that they have on each side of the stand. Both times I have subjected myself to that line (and the food ain't that great), I have ended up crying and laughing at the same time.

Posted by: Henry | May 4, 2006 5:16 PM

I can't agree more about the food and service at the stadium. A prison would have better food and friendlier people serving it.

I also wouldn't like to see it go to another big food service operator.

Why can't they just lease the concession stands to local businesses? A few Ben's stands, a few Five Guys stands, some BBQ maybe and so on. Everyone would be motivated to provide a good product and the fans would benefit.

Variety is the spice of life.

Posted by: nats fan | May 4, 2006 5:33 PM

Please, please, please improve the food and service. This is a huge component of the fan experience, one that makes Camden Yards (crab cakes, Boog's bbq, cinnamon pretzels, Backfin Ale) so wonderful.

The food selection at RFK is appallingly slim. Give us some options beyond hot dogs and chicken tenders and only two places you can get sausages.

The service is atrocious. On Opening Day this year, it was ok to wait in line. Last night with a thin crowd, I still waited forever because Aramark doesn't have a clue. In one line the cashiers all stood around while one guy did all the work. In another there was one incompetent cashier for whom everyone was waiting. Fire Aramark.

Posted by: Judiciary Sq. | May 4, 2006 5:40 PM

I second and third the comment about installing hand rails in the upper decks. The first 8 rows of the upper deck have them, but nothing above that. I bought more expensive seats last year in the second highest tier ($15 as opposed to $7) but they had no hand rails at all, and I had to give them up and retreat upstairs.

Posted by: Mary | May 4, 2006 5:53 PM

In addition to swapping AAA affiliates with the Braves (Richmond for New Orleans), swap AA affiliates with the O's -- Bowie for Harrisburg. Bowie is in Prince George's County, which is "immediately adjacent" to the District and therefore, if we're using the O's team charter language as the model for the Nats' team charter, "exclusive territory" of the Nats.

The O's team store in Farragut Square ought to be a Nats team store.

For 2007, have the half-season miniplans go by a strict "every-other-game" schedule, with each giving the option of a ticket to Opening Day.

For 2007, have the 20-game miniplans anchored by a specific day of the week. 13 Fridays, 13 Saturdays, 13 Sundays and the Wednesday/Thursday afternoon getaway games is a good place to start. See what the Detroit Tigers offer for an idea of how to divvy up the games. Give each of the four 20-game miniplans the option of a ticket to Opening Day.

Opening Day should ALWAYS be at RFK, not with the Nats on the road. It's the national pastime and DC is the nation's capital. If the O's want July 4th in exchange for giving up being at home on Opening Day, so be it. We have the Capitol Fourth and the fireworks on the Mall by the Washington Monument.

Take a look at the 370-foot RF power alley in the new ballpark's plan. It's too short and would turn it into a bandbox. Power alleys should be 380 feet, with a distance of 330 feet to the foul poles.

On the subject of power alleys, move the fences in at RFK so that the REAL power alleys are 380 feet, not the 395 feet that they currently are. But keep the distance to the foul poles at least 330 feet.

Posted by: Nats on Fridays at RFK | May 4, 2006 6:19 PM

Wow, Mr. Fisher, why don't you tell us what you REALLY think?

"Don't give an inch to Marion Barry, Vincent Orange and the other race-baiting politicians who want only to advance their own careers with divisive rhetoric and appeals to the worst in all of us."

Amen. There's nothing more that the Lerners could have done to establish their good graces than be attacked by these guys. The first thing I thought when I heard their attacks was: "I wonder which bidder might not have been so conscientious about not lobbying Councilmen, as MLB requested." There's a lot of money in this picture. It might not have been his political career that Marion Barry was seeking to advance.

I feel so very very bad for the incredibly accomplished minority owners, including James Brown. It was just so rude.

Mr. Brown, I may not know much about sports, but I've heard of you and I just know I love baseball and I know you're quite accomplished. I didn't know how well-established your roots are in the city until I heard the press conference.

Well, if you know the city well, then you know that most of us, black, white, and latino, are nice people who will honestly appreciate your achievements to date and laud your involvement in this project. Marion Barry is the past in this city. And you are, God Bless you, the future.

On another subject, Boswell's backgrounder on the older Lerner was fascinating. Boswell is a great writer.

Posted by: nrp | May 4, 2006 6:23 PM

There are certain areas of the stadium that should NEVER be seen as empty, namely behind home plate. if the game is not sold out what is the harm in moving people from the upper decks down to make it a more intimate atmosphere, maybe after the 7th inning. 19,000 fans spread out across the entire stadium looks really bad on TV, move them closer.

Also, team up with the other successful teams in the area. The Skins and Wizards spent a lot of time at the bottom of their leagues and are now contenders. That is the aim for the Nats so teaming them up shows that we are serious about winning.

Frank has got to stay. He is a vocal icon in baseball and the only reason people don't hear about him as much is because MLB didn't allow his star to shine. Detroit's manager called his team out and he was on all the networks for a week. Speak your mind Frank; it's what we love about you.

Posted by: DC youth | May 4, 2006 7:09 PM

Fisher has got to go. What's with the "Raw" Fisher stuff? We have enough people that whine, too bad that the Post encourages that kind of journalism. Maybe the Post has to go . . .

Posted by: resident | May 4, 2006 7:48 PM

I've had the pleasure to get to know the Lerner family a bit in the past few years. They are, without question, some of the classiest, most generous people I've ever come across. I grew up an Orioles fan---a firm believer in "The Oriole Way". Last summer, I fell in love with the Nats, and as long as the team is run "The Lerner Way", the operation will be stellar from top to bottom.

Posted by: Jep | May 4, 2006 8:53 PM

BRING JAMEY CARROLL BACK. He goes to Colorado, on a cash-trade (shameful...) and all of a sudden the Rockies are tops in the NL West. Selling Jamey out, who was the Nats Roberto Clemente Award nominee and who had established an educational foundation last season, mirrors the downward turn away from the endearing, fan-attracting character that made last season so special. And if you can't bring Jamey back, encourage some Jamey-like behavior on the part of the players--enough drama!

Posted by: Abby | May 4, 2006 9:01 PM

Fisher is an idiot whining about food at RFK. He got his baseball and his new stadium so he should finally shut up. Now I and the rest of the taxpayers get to help pay for it big business will pass their tax on to customers!

I am sick of hearing how we are to be grateful to MLB for choosing DC. Fisher wanted baseball and he used his position at the Post to help get it here. This paper had no objectivity in the issue.

We get to build MLB a stadium and let MLB sell naming rights to it and MLB being so charitable will allow the city to use the stadium a few days of the year. How kind and generous of MLB. How disgusting The Washington Post is for promoting it and pushing it down our throats constantly how we need this it will be good for us. I am very happy to see attendance is falling and they are losing games.

Posted by: John | May 4, 2006 9:10 PM

I have a comment on the issue of bringing food into the stadium, prompted by a previous poster, "mm": "Never prevent people from bringing food...allows vegetarians, dieters, and fans on a serious budget to still attend the games."

Couldn't agree more. I endorsed Ben's Chili Bowl (as a possible vendor) in an earlier posting, despite the fact that I can't eat a lot of their food. Any small loss of profit would be more than offset by goodwill and fan loyalty. And don't forget fans who don't have a generous disposable income. They are still your fans.

As for vendors, maybe some food offerings from Chinatown and the Chesapeake? REAL Chinese food, not the US version. And DON'T let me catch you serving fake crab!

Posted by: Carla M | May 4, 2006 10:39 PM

In addition to bringing back last year's season-ticket holders who didn't renew, do something for those of us who did! Ticket prices went up (20% for me) for a worse team. All the while MLB made an extra $100 million by not selling the team last year like they were supposed to.

How about giving us a partial refund, on next year's tickets if not this year. Reward those who have stuck with the team.

Posted by: nashpaul | May 4, 2006 11:07 PM

Ledo pizza.

Day-specific partial season ticket plans, particularly for weekends. And no "premium" variable pricing games, either.

Three statues for the new park (which, I assume, will have cup-holders): Walter Johnson pitching to Frank Howard at bat, with Josh Gibson catching. Each represents one facet of Washington baseball history.

A P.A. announcer who sounds like a real human being, not a contrived disc jockey.

No to "Sweet Caroline." Hello to Link Wray's "Rumble" during Nats' rallies.

Posted by: Vincent | May 4, 2006 11:29 PM

Pay the inevitable cost overruns yourself Mr. Lehner!

Posted by: Simple! | May 5, 2006 9:29 AM

The antidote to high beer prices: http://www.thebeerbelly.com/

Posted by: Beerman | May 5, 2006 9:31 AM

I'm the 'snowcone businessman' that a previous poster suggested should be ignored.

Sure, it's a minor thing, but really, the flavoring stuff they use in snowcones at RFK leaves your lips colored for days. My business meeting was the next day, after the game, and no matter how much I scrubbed I still had bright purple lips.

I'm somewhat of a snowcone repeat customer, eating them at county fairs, etc., pretty much all my life. Never have I had one color my lips for three days like the ones at RFK did.

I don't think it's an unrealistic expectation to be served a food product that doesn't stain you for days.

Posted by: Hillman | May 5, 2006 10:23 AM

The O's have good food at their games and the Nat's need to step up to the plate (pardon the pun) and make sure they have comparable offerings.

Posted by: J | May 5, 2006 1:20 PM

Giving fans the same amount of leg room as a "generous" coach seat on an airplane is not going to encourage people to spend times at games.

Add an inch or two to the proposed numbers--it'll make a huge difference in fan experience.

Posted by: JE | May 5, 2006 2:30 PM

Go to AT&T (or whatever they call it) Park in San Francisco and see how the Giants serve the fans. Then go to Candlestick for football, a park similar to RFK, and marvel at the garlic fries, working outdoor BBQ with sausages, and real beer, not just Bud Light.

These are not perfect - you have to walk a few sections for Anchor Steam - but based on my one experience at RFK (Opening Day, 2005) the Nats could definitely make some improvements even with the old park.

Agree 100% with the recommendation of local DC music and food. Play the old-skool stuff - Minor Threat, Government Issue, Trouble Funk. Sign a deal with Dischord Records to play their new stuff between innings and sell CDs for $10 cash in the souvenir stands.

And yes, give Aramark the boot. They are just as terrible at San Jose Arena and other places where they have the contract. Oakland Coliseum hires a bunch of local businesses to serve BBQ and other stuff and they do fine - try that.

Posted by: Andrew | May 5, 2006 2:50 PM

Change the Nats logo.

Posted by: Bobby Osawa | May 5, 2006 3:35 PM

Just to add my voice to some suggestions that others have already mentioned:
1. Robinson does have to go. If his only solution to our bad play is to hold another "closed door meeting," then he's no use to us. And how closed door can it be if the Post keeps reporting the content each morning?
2. Parking prices. Please keep them low. What exactly is that money going towards? My extra money is still going towards paying for the new tires that Lot 8 cost me last year!
3. Screech is a useless mascot. The P-Nats Uncle Slam has ten times the personality.

Posted by: ML | May 5, 2006 4:48 PM

If you want to add some local flair, why not put a museum in the new stadium? DC has an increadible baseball history dating to before the Civil War.

Posted by: E Street | May 5, 2006 5:45 PM

Oh, and one more thing: Scorecards separate from the $5 program, sold for a buck or two, as is done in several other parks such as Philadelphia. (This is especially needed now that Express has discontinued its complimentary HomeStand tabloid.) Those of us who always keep score -- I have a Yankee Stadium program from 1999 where I scored David Cone's perfect game -- would find this very fan-friendly.

Posted by: Vincent | May 6, 2006 1:44 AM

Getting a Five Guys Burger stand at the stadium would be huge. Home grown yummy burgers. What could be better than that!?

Posted by: Marisa | May 8, 2006 5:26 PM

Bring in the Homestead Grays...what better way to connect with the city than to have a good number of night where the Nats wear Homestead Gray unis.

ARAMARK is dreadful. Their employees are horrid. Recruit the colleges and HS's for jobs, not the corners.

Posted by: Neal in Kensington | May 8, 2006 5:36 PM

Five Guys
Old Dominion
Clydes
Ben's

Trade Arimark to the Mets......let them deal with the disaster known as "The Worst Food Ever".

Wet T-Shirt contests and free booze.....that would be sweet.

Posted by: Sven Zachariasse | May 31, 2006 11:07 AM

Move the team to Las Vegas.

Posted by: O's Fan | May 31, 2006 12:39 PM

I'm surprised :). Lilly

Posted by: ddas@yahoo.com | June 22, 2006 9:45 AM

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