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Nats '09: Lower Ticket Prices Aren't Enough

The Washington Nationals' inaugural season in their new ballpark has been an on-field disaster, a fan experience success and a decent but not very exciting performer as a business. As this season-long adventure in player injuries comes to a close, the Lerner family and team executives are spreading the word that they intend to step up their game in time for next spring. But will lowering some ticket prices be enough to propel Washington's baseball franchise into a sorely-needed pivot?

The team announced this month that it will cut prices for season ticket holders on 7,500 of Nationals Park's 42,000 seats. This is not just a token move--some pretty big swaths of the stadium will be significantly cheaper. Lower bowl seats out past both first and third bases will drop in price from $45 per game to $30. And the sections of the stadium that most often look the emptiest--some right field sections just to the right of the scoreboard--are actually very good seats; they may well prove more popular at $18 than they were this year at $25.

Nats tickets were already among the more modestly priced in baseball, and now more than a third of the stadium's seats will be priced at $20 or less, as The Post's Chico Harlan points out. There's no better bargain in all of major league sports--unless you're of the opinion that the Nats are putting a minor-league quality team on the field, in which case you have a point. But ticket prices are not the reason the Nats are sitting in 18th place in Major League Baseball attendance--well ahead of Baltimore, to be sure, but behind much smaller market teams such as St. Louis, Milwaukee, Denver and San Diego.

No, the problem is three-fold:

1) The team is not only really bad--yes, minor-league bad--but just as important, it failed to offer fans marquee players who might get the turnstiles spinning. Most fans readily accept the idea that a new team must go through a rebuilding phase, and the consensus among baseball cognoscenti is that the Lerners have invested in a greatly strengthened scouting and minor league system, which should eventually pay off in strong major league players. But the Nationals have made little effort so far under the Lerner ownership to bring to town big-name players who might do what Alfonso
Soriano did in his short time playing at RFK--electrify the crowd and bring in people who only know a smattering about the game and its top-name players.

On Raw Fisher Radio the other day, Post D.C. Sports Bog impresario Dan Steinberg argued that Washington's tradition of fair-weather fandom is evident in the slipping attendance at Nationals Park and even more so in the pathetically low TV and radio ratings that Nats games are earning this season. But longtime D.C. baseball commentator Phil Wood countered that the Nats are victims this year of extraordinarily lousy luck--an almost unbelievable string of injuries to their best players--and marketing mistakes, which leads to problem #2....

2) My family made late-season visits to games in New York and Baltimore, where we were reminded of two factors that raise doubts about baseball in Washington: Even when their home team was out of the game and out of playoff contention, crowds in those cities were into the action, cheering madly, arriving early and staying to the end. By contrast, even when Nats Park is sold out, the crowd doesn't settle in until the game is a third over, and by the sixth inning, there's a noticeable stream of fans toward the exits. Even on those rare occasions when the Nats are rallying, the place is way too quiet.

Would a good marketing campaign fix that? Do Washingtonians need to be taught the basics of baseball? I certainly get that sense given the comments I hear from visitors at the ballpark who report having a splendid time, but seem involved in just about everything but the game itself. Nats President Stan Kasten has always said that baseball depends heavily on the very casual fan, the family that just wants a fun evening out and doesn't really follow the game closely. That's of course fine, but even casual fans want to get into the fun of cheering on their team, and that's missing at Nats Park. The team's radio and TV broadcasts are also a problem--the MASN TV channel, owned by the Baltimore Orioles, is an almost wholly Baltimore-centric enterprise, with hardly any Nationals programming other than the games themselves. And the Nats had the bad luck to open the stadium in a time of utter turmoil on the radio, with Redskins owner Dan Snyder buying the only sports talk station in town and immediately getting rid of the station's only baseball show, and the Nats' own station going through a series of disastrous format changes, with Nats games now airing on a station otherwise devoted to chat shows about federal government contracting. That'll really bring in the listeners.

3) No one expected the area around the new stadium to be anything other than a construction site this first year, but confusion still reigns over getting to and around the stadium site. The economic downturn means the wait for the city's much-ballyhooed baseball district will be longer, though most of the developers involved say they're still confident a bustling neighborhood of restaurants, bars and shops will eventually emerge.

But the team's well-intentioned PR campaign teaching Washington area residents that one must not drive to Nationals Park succeeded too well, and even though it quickly became apparent that parking near the ballpark is plentiful and easy and traffic is light even around sell-out games, that new message never caught up with the pre-season scare story about how Metro was the only way to get there.

Hopes for a water taxi to take fans to the games from Alexandria, National Harbor and Georgetown seem no closer to reality than they did before the stadium's opening. And while Metro has handled the crowds very efficiently, the fact remains that there is nothing worth sticking around for before or after games, and there probably won't be for several more years.

Are there other factors depressing crowd size and fan interest? Aside from sacking the general manager, what other remedies would you recommend? And are there any good arguments for leaving the super-premium seats behind home plate empty, as they have been at virtually every game this year? The Nats say prices on those seats will stay the same next year, at a whopping $325 and $170 each. That's of course a bargain compared to similar seats at the Yankees' and Mets' new stadiums, but those teams actually win games and feature star players.

Come ahead with your suggestions. A big fat consulting fee from the Nationals just might come your way....

By Marc Fisher |  September 22, 2008; 8:49 AM ET
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Comments

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For a change I agree with almost everything Marc says, having been to about 20 games this year (including yesterday).

In particular, he is correct about Kasten's overemphasis on the casual fan. The game-day experience needs to be more baseball centric -- for example, more baseball related entertainment on the video board between innings, such as highlights, rather than inane chats with Clint. Comparisons with New York and Chicago are unfair, but more needs to be done to develop a baseball culture here, and the Lerners seem not to have a clue. Instead, they closed the meager downtown Nationals store.

The MASN deal is terrible, and although they're stuck with it surely some hard negotiating may produce a better product. The radio situation is deplorable and I'm not sure what can be done until Snyder is run out of town.

The real estate downturn will slow the development of a lively district around the ballpark, but while that is critical to the financial success of the city's investment, it is not critical to the success of the Nationals. A successful -- by which I mean contending -- team, is.

But so is a better relationship with the city and the fans. The Lerners have demonstrated an astonishing tin ear for public relations -- from their rent dispute with the city, in which they have utterly failed to explain their position to the public, to their involvement with Gaylord National (which outraged the DC hotels that are paying the gross receipts tax which in turn pays for the ballpark).

It is possible that things will turn around in a year or two. But the Orioles are a disturbing reminder that upward mobility in baseball cannot be taken for granted. Poor ownership decisions, including unwise short-term free agent signings (the one area I really disagree with Marc) have long-term consequences, and some serious questions must be asked about whether, after four years in Washington, the Nationals -- who for the first time are about to lose 100 games -- are moving in the right direction. A new general manager may be the place to start.

Posted by: Meridian | September 22, 2008 9:19 AM

Poor Nats. As the article has shown, there's so many factors hampering the organization and none of them have quick fixes. I'm one of those who probably should be among those filling up those empty seats but haven't. I went often during the team's run at RFK but I still haven't made it to the new stadium for a game this year. I drove by it at the beginning of the year and saw a "transitioning" but still intimidating remnants of a bad old neighborhood with a gleaming but remote and seemingly unfinished stadium. Since the Nats gutted their roster and remained uncompetitive there's little interest even if I was inclined to seek out coverage on them. Build a winner and the rest will start to fall into place.

Posted by: John | September 22, 2008 9:20 AM

Well said. Can't think of anything to add except maybe the Lerner's need to hire a PR firm to undo the damage they have done to themselves on the non-payment of rent and the spurious $100,000 a day penalty charged to DC for supposedly not completing the stadium on time. The Lerner's own stupidity and greed have caused many of these problems.

Posted by: New Owners | September 22, 2008 9:20 AM

The Nats horribly over-estimated the demand for their product. They need to lower prices not just for season ticket holders, but for all tickets. Instead of looking to maximize revenue, they need to maximize attendance. Get fans in the seats, sell some games out, build a little buzz, and build a fanbase.

Likewise, in over-estimating the demand for their crappy product, they also over-estimated the demand for parking. The doomsday scenario never came to pass. It never even came close. Shock of shocks, an urban ballpark performed more like its brethren on the Northside of Chicago, in New York, and San Francisco - people took transit and walked to the park. The parking allocation was too favored towards season ticket holders, and they had way too much of it. People will find a way to get to the ballpark, but they actually made things worse for themselves - all while the doomsday scenario never happened.

Oh, and they might not want to open themselves up to criticism by withholding rent, saying the stadium wasn't substantially complete. This team wasn't even close to substantially complete.

Posted by: blockski | September 22, 2008 9:26 AM

I am still waiting for DC to get A MLB team with owners who know how to run one.

Lerners are all talk. They cant even manage the concessions at the stadium so how can they field a MLB team!

Either put a MLB product on the field with MLB concessions or sell the team to someone who can girls!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 9:30 AM

Washington is not a baseball town. You barely support NHL and NBA, and that is only when they are winning. Baseball takes dedication and requires a long attention span both at the games and over the course of a season. DC is a political town where the focuses change daily.

Baseball thrives in older, blue collar cities where fans are very devoted and their own happiness is equal to the team's location in the standings. I see the DC Bugs team leaving in about 5-7 years due to lack of fan interest. And the fact that the ballpark is not all that great either does not help.

Posted by: Peter | September 22, 2008 9:30 AM

Two words: sign Manny. The Lerners have the cash -- now it's time to put something on the field worth watching. Yeah, keep with the plan of building around young players, but a free agent or two won't hurt at this point. If not Manny, Adam Dunn is a good substitute.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 9:37 AM

The problem is that right now the Nats are a team without a soul. No stars, no compelling story line, no history. The team is being run pretty brazenly purely for profit (see withholding the rent). A visit to the ball park shows all of these problems. Nobody is attached to the club. It's a dull, lifeless experience.

As bad as RFK was, at least there a was sense of excitement due to the newness of the team. And a sense of camraderie amongst the fans that they were overcoming a horrible ballpark to enjoy the game. Now they have a shiny new ballpark. And nothing else. Except poor service and high prices. The only reason to go there is to experience going to a baseball game. And it's not much of an experience in DC.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | September 22, 2008 9:41 AM

The Lerners need to spend some GD money. It's that simple

Posted by: ohplease | September 22, 2008 9:49 AM

1) Screen "Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" performers. I've heard some treasonous versions sung by so-called "recording artists" that had Francis Scott Key and Kate Smith spinning in their graves. I'd rather they pipe the songs in than suffer through those horrible renditions. Yesterday's performer was particularly bad. I'm thinking it wasn't singing talent that got her a contract with Warner Brothers.

2) Bring in volunteer groups to man the concession stands. Folks trying to raise money for their organizations (school teams, charities...) will be friendlier and likely more efficient. It works at the Comcast Center at U of Md reasonably well.

3) Why can't the Martz buses drop fans off at the stadium instead of at 3rd and M.

4) Get rid of the silly Clintcapades before the game and in between innings. If he calls everyone "guys" one more time....

5) The Family Picnic was a joke this year. No goody bags...just a cheap dollar store license plate frame, a sorry hot dog, a watery soda, and a bag of air for potato chips...Oh, and no walking on the field. Some fan appreciation that was.

6) The President's Club food on numerous occasions was pathetic at best. The food service at the seats is only marginally better if the runner actually finds you before the food is cold and soggy. Hardly worth the $300 per ticket. I'm happy I didn't pay for it.

7) Stop pretending that the $5 seats are sold out in order to sell more of the expensive seats at the ticket window. We were told three times that the cheap seats were gone and yet by the 4th inning, the upper decks were still half empty.

8) How about tossing and blasting a few t-shirts to the upper decks for a change. Fans sitting in the $100 plus seats can afford to buy their own shirts.

9) Let Teddy win!!

Posted by: Frustrated Fan | September 22, 2008 9:56 AM

A big fat consulting fee? Come on, Mark, I think you know that this organization shows very little responsiveness to individual fans.

Posted by: L'enfant Terrible | September 22, 2008 9:57 AM

The emptiness of the neighborhood hasn't helped things, nor has their total lack of marketing. The locap sports reporters are not going to do their jobs for them.

Sign someone worth seeing in the offseason. It's not like there's a salary cap to worry about, so it's all on them and how much they want to spend. Give us a reason to show up and we'll spend more money.

Though given that the ticket package my family has is already 23 bucks to sit at the end of the upper deck I don't know how willing we'll be to spend more give the relatively poor value of the seast.

Posted by: EricS | September 22, 2008 9:58 AM

I'm sick of hearing that DC isn't a "baseball town." I don't even know what that means. Is it a city where the stadium is sold out even when the team is perennially lousy? If so, then only the North Side of Chicago qualifies. Winning solves everything everywhere else, and will here, too.

And please, no Manny or Adam Dunn. The Nats need Texiera.

Posted by: Tom Servo | September 22, 2008 10:00 AM

I hardly ever agree with anything this guy says and this column is no exception.

The Nats are lucky if the game story gets onto page one of the sports section. The only time that it does is when there is absolutely nothing else going on in the world of sports. It is far more likely that the Redskins will have two stories, even before the season starts, and the Nats game story will be on page eight. Believe it or not Marc but that sends a message to the masses that baseball is not important. Cut out the overload of Redskin articles and give the Nats some space.

For thirty years the Post has made a whole generation of kids believe that Baltimore was their home town team which is bull. They are not the Maryland Orioles. They are in Baltimore yet the Post still assigns a beat writer to them which is ridiculous. Maybe you can do something about that Marc.

Posted by: JT | September 22, 2008 10:02 AM

You provided Peter Angelo$ with another subsidy from D.C., Marc? Shame on you! Why reward his bad behavior?

Learning some PR skills would go a long with the Nationals.

Posted by: WFY | September 22, 2008 10:11 AM

ticket prices were certainly part of the reason why I continue to drive up 95 to Baltimore (other factors include that I am an Orioles fan, and I married a Tigers fan-we're AL people). The seats beneath the scoreboard at Camden costs considerably less than they do in Nats park-and on Thursdays, those seats come with a free BBQ sandwhich. Its the same across most of Camden Yards-the seats in the lower level are cheaper than comparbale seats in Washington.

Another thing that has driven me nuts at the new park is the ushers. In Baltimore, the ushers always walk us down to our seats and wipe them off (and kick people out if needed), and we tip accordingly. Most other parks I've been to are the same way. Not once this season did that happen in Washington. Maybe if I pony up for $300 seats the usher will care, but its been endlessly frustrating to have ushers act as if they don't care, and constantly have to ask people to move out of my seats.

And finally, as baseball season comes to a close and a new hockey season begins, I can't recall a single time the nationals attempted to reach out and encourage us to buy a season ticket package. The last few years, we've done about 10 games for the nats and 10 for the Caps. The Caps worked tirelessley to bring us on a season ticket holders, to make us feel like our business mattered to them. The silence from the Nationals certainly influenced our decision to spend our "season ticket fund" at the Phone Booth, despite the fact that we can walk to the ballpark.

Posted by: Birdie | September 22, 2008 10:11 AM

I'll never go to a game, due to how the nationals did a number on Frank Robinson. Anyone want to compare Manny's record to Frank's ? I mean, ain't that the reason Frank was fired? No progress ? Who wants to tackle that one ? I'm waiting .....

Posted by: DC Bill | September 22, 2008 10:16 AM

Der missus and I went to the stadium yesterday hoping to get a couple of cheap walk-up tickets, and we were told the only seats left were $35 each. We left and went home. A friend who was at the game told me later that you could have rolled a bowling ball down many rows in the upper deck without hitting anyone.

Posted by: Herr Maus | September 22, 2008 10:20 AM

Marc what about the Post's refusal to cover minor league baseball? The day that the Nats arrived in town the Post stopped covering the P-Nats and the Keys. The Potomac Nats just won the Carolina League championship and yet the Post did not send a reporter to any of the games. Yet on Friday nights you send ten reporters to high school football games, some attended by less than five hundred people, that hardly anyone cares about.

Maybe you don't understand the concept. Some of the players on the Potomac Nationals will someday be playing at Nationals Park. That is how you foster interest. Yet you fawn all over a soccer team whose games are attended by Spanish speaking people who don't read this newspaper.

Posted by: JT | September 22, 2008 10:22 AM

It's not that DC fans need to be educated about baseball, it's that the people in the stands need to care about baseball. But that's not why most are there. They're there to be seen, to impress, to fill some time and spend some disposal income.

I remember when the Nats were winning (at RFK, that really good stadium that didn't cost DC taxpayers 600 million+). The posers reacted to the real baseball fans like lemmings. They'd stand and cheer not because they understood what was going on, but because the people next to them were standing and cheering.

DC will never have a die-hard fan-base in the stadium. Tickets will go to the connected and those who can afford the luxury of attending a game they don't care about.

Posted by: Cracker Jack | September 22, 2008 10:23 AM

Stadium -- A
Parking -- A+
Metro -- A
Food -- B+
Red Loft -- A+++
Manager -- A+
Quality of Play -- D- (would be an F but for fleeting moments of brilliance)

Put a quality team on the field, with a couple more stars to back up Zim, and the fans will come, as will the cheers, and all will be well. It's never going to be Fenway, or Wrigley, or Yankee Stadium. But there's no reason it can't be like Camden Yards during it's glory days, when the Sox and Yankees fans couldn't take over the place.

A Washington crowd will always come late and leave early, esp on weeknights. (Ever been to a Wizards game where Verizon Center was close to full at the tip-off?) It's that kind of town.

Posted by: Adam | September 22, 2008 10:30 AM

I won't be renewing my season tickets. I had the worst seats in the whole stadium, right field 5 rows from the wall, can't see the score board and they were $28 per. Add that to the fact that the Lerners aren't paying rent on the stadium means I won't be back for a while.
Why couldn't we have had Fred Malek as our owner??

Posted by: 13 St. S.E. | September 22, 2008 10:32 AM

Hey Lerners, pay the city the money you owe! I bought a partial season ticket pack this year so I went to a lot of games, but I refuse to spend any money on concessions and I won't buy any tickets next year, until this issue is resolved. I don't blame the injury-plagued team, I think they had some real high points along with terrible lows.

I also wish the Nats would reach out to the community more. I watched the Orioles Opening Day ceremony on TV and they had a bunch of Baltimore school kids on the field, which was great! Can you imagine the Nats doing the same thing? Kids are welcome at the park now only as long as their parents are willing to spend money on stupid Screech dolls. There always seems to be a lot of focus on the military - like the welcoming of Walter Reed patients, which is also great, but I sometimes feel like I'm at a NASCAR rally instead of a baseball game. D.C. is a majority-Democrat, majority-black city plus a huge Democratic base in Northern Virginia and the Nats treat their fans like we're one big Red State.

Posted by: LD | September 22, 2008 10:35 AM

"Stop pretending that the $5 seats are sold out in order to sell more of the expensive seats at the ticket window. We were told three times that the cheap seats were gone and yet by the 4th inning, the upper decks were still half empty."

The only thing that I can say to this is that I know a lot of my friends go to the park and buy the $5 seats and then spend most of the game in the Red Loft bar or just walking around the stadium. There are a ton of great views from the lower level if you don't mind standing and $5 can get you in the park to enjoy them.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | September 22, 2008 10:40 AM

Actually, the TV deal isn't bad. In his most recent chat, Boswell said the the Nats are getting 23 million from MASN which is more than they would get on the open market. I think that its a case of management telling fans "Believe us, not your own eyes". Supposedly there's a grand plan in place yet how many every day players are in the minor league pipeline?

Posted by: bowiemd1 | September 22, 2008 10:40 AM

I have never paid more than $5. How much lower can they go?

Posted by: Nate | September 22, 2008 10:41 AM

A minor complaint, but one that may help explain the limited number of people in the seats at even sold-out games: the vending the stands is terrible!
In order to get anything other than a beer or cotton candy, you have to get out of your seat and get on a usually-long line to get a meal (even a hot dog or a soda).
This should be improved...it certainly detracts from the fan experience to stand on a long line and watch the game on TV (which I could do for a lot less from home)....I suppose I shouldn't complain, Mr Pollin and Mr Snider run their concessions the same way....but NYC, Phila, San Diego, Chicago to name a few places ALL have vendors coming through the aisles selling something other than beer!

Posted by: Henry | September 22, 2008 10:43 AM

Manny Ramirez would be a disaster for the team's clubhouse chemistry, nor do the Nats need another outfielder. Texiera at first base is a better fit with the club's needs and, being younger than Manny, a better investment of the team's money.

Fisher has raised some good points but the Post also can look at its own sports section for reasons why baseball seems like an afterthought.

The team's Class A minor league affiliate Potomac Nationals won its league championship a few weeks ago. Did you know that? You didn't learn about it from The Post.

This newspaper's ombudsman telephoned me after I sent her an e-mail wondering why there had been no coverage of the championship game played in a ballpark just off of the Prince William Parkway and easily within the Post's circulation area -- not even a wire service story or a box score on the agate page. During our conversation she said the sports editor told her the paper has decided not to cover minor league baseball AT ALL.

OK, I responded, I can understand the need to budget the paper's resources but this wasn't about the commitment of a reporter to a long-term beat; this was a single game with local 'P-Nats' fans of their own and a connection to D.C.'s major league baseball team. It was being played locally so there wasn't any need to pay for a plane ticket or a hotel. Doesn't the sports section have any general assignment reporters? How much would it have cost The Post to run a story from Associated Press?

The ombudsman told me she'd asked the same questions and didn't really get an answer from anyone in the sports department.

Posted by: Devoted Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 10:43 AM

Judging by the attendance at the games that I went to this year, the best way to improve attendance would be to have the Mets play the Phillies there every day.

Posted by: Dude | September 22, 2008 10:44 AM

Agree that the Nats have had some bad luck, but they need to stop completely rebuilding and mix some veterans. The TV coverage is strange because you never know what channel to turn to. I have Cox and it can be on Channels 20, 74, 102 or in HD 710 (rarely). The Orioles games do get better HD coverage) and radio coverage. The radio coverage was better on 107.7, but now to put it on a Federal Station that I can barely hear in Fairfax is ridiculous. I am a transplanted Philadelphian that has lived here for 20 years that subscribes to the MLB Extra Innings Package to see the Phillies.

Posted by: Ron | September 22, 2008 11:04 AM

Marc Fisher fawns over the soccer team? ROFL!

Soccer fans are all spanish speaking who don't read the newspaper? ROFLMAO!!

I'm fairly sure the Post will cover the Nats more when there's actually something to report other than "Nat's drop 8 out of 9"...

Make news = get coverage

Posted by: JkR | September 22, 2008 11:21 AM

"The team announced this month that it will cut prices for season ticket holders on 7,500 of Nationals Park's 42,000 seats. This is not just a token move--some pretty big swaths of the stadium will be significantly cheaper."

It should be noted that this will have no effect for most of the current season ticket holders, the areas that are being discounted were empty for much of the season. Also most of the seats are being discounted by 2-3 bucks, only a small portion of them are being lowered by $10.

Posted by: PowerBoater | September 22, 2008 11:33 AM

My only point is that of signing big name free agents. That is not the answer. I believe the Nats have done right by pouring dollars into fixing their farm system. A championship team is built from the ground up. When the Yankees were winning titles it was because of home grown players like Jeter, Williams, Posada, Rivera, Pettite, and the acquisition of complimentary players like O'Neill, Cone, and Wetteland. When the Yanks starting buying pricey superstars like Sheffield, Johnson and Giambi, that's when they stopped winning titles. That said, the Nats farm system MUST begin to produce. When you get free agents, spend wisely and get players that compliment the team.

Posted by: HJP | September 22, 2008 11:38 AM

As one of the "traditional" fans who is supposedly wanted so eagerly by the Nats-I have to be honest why I havent been to more games. The SCOREBOARD- it's too big, too loud, too distracting- yes, I realize the marketing today demands it but I just cant watch a game with six TV sets. each of them on at once-enough! No, it doesnt have to be Fenway park-nostalgic but Camden,Philly,Pittsburgh has it just right.

Posted by: fred | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

As one of the "traditional" fans who is supposedly wanted so eagerly by the Nats-I have to be honest why I havent been to more games. The SCOREBOARD- it's too big, too loud, too distracting- yes, I realize the marketing today demands it but I just cant watch a game with six TV sets. each of them on at once-enough! No, it doesnt have to be Fenway park-nostalgic but Camden,Philly,Pittsburgh has it just right.

Posted by: fred | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

As one of the "traditional" fans who is supposedly wanted so eagerly by the Nats-I have to be honest why I havent been to more games. The SCOREBOARD- it's too big, too loud, too distracting- yes, I realize the marketing today demands it but I just cant watch a game with six TV sets. each of them on at once-enough! No, it doesnt have to be Fenway park-nostalgic but Camden,Philly,Pittsburgh has it just right.

Posted by: fred | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Even with the poor team, I'm surprised more people don't go to Nats' games to root for the other team! I went to law school here back in the 60's, with pretty much the same situation: poor team, poor marketing. Remember how people hated Bob Short? But there are so many people from around the country in Washington who showed up and made the games interesting. I know the Senators didn't draw well, either but you get my point. And I don't mean just Mets and Phillies fans. Even in Baltimore, not too far away, also with a bad team, there are always Twins, Tigers, Indians fans when those teams come to town. I'm a die-hard fan, still see 2-3 games a week on homestands. I'd eliminate everything but the President races and focus more on baseball. How will you build the next generation of fans if they come to the park to build a bear?

Posted by: alaistairadams@gmail.com | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

I think Arlington is right about the five dollar seats. I've been several times, bought them and watched the game from the bar, or some of the great views from the concourses. Much more pleasant way to enjoy a drink with friends then most of the bars around the area.

Now if they would jsut put a MLB team in the stadium I might pay more attention to the games, and maybe even stay until the end.

Posted by: CW | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Even with the poor team, I'm surprised more people don't go to Nats' games to root for the other team! I went to law school here back in the 60's, with pretty much the same situation: poor team, poor marketing. Remember how people hated Bob Short? But there are so many people from around the country in Washington who showed up and made the games interesting. I know the Senators didn't draw well, either but you get my point. And I don't mean just Mets and Phillies fans. Even in Baltimore, not too far away, also with a bad team, there are always Twins, Tigers, Indians fans when those teams come to town. I'm a die-hard fan, still see 2-3 games a week on homestands. I'd eliminate everything but the President races and focus more on baseball. How will you build the next generation of fans if they come to the park to build a bear?

Posted by: alaistairadams@gmail.com | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

I think Arlington is right about the five dollar seats. I've been several times, bought them and watched the game from the bar, or some of the great views from the concourses. Much more pleasant way to enjoy a drink with friends then most of the bars around the area.

Now if they would jsut put a MLB team in the stadium I might pay more attention to the games, and maybe even stay until the end.

Posted by: CW | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

I think Arlington is right about the five dollar seats. I've been several times, bought them and watched the game from the bar, or some of the great views from the concourses. Much more pleasant way to enjoy a drink with friends then most of the bars around the area.

Now if they would jsut put a MLB team in the stadium I might pay more attention to the games, and maybe even stay until the end.

Posted by: CW | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Even with the poor team, I'm surprised more people don't go to Nats' games to root for the other team! I went to law school here back in the 60's, with pretty much the same situation: poor team, poor marketing. Remember how people hated Bob Short? But there are so many people from around the country in Washington who showed up and made the games interesting. I know the Senators didn't draw well, either but you get my point. And I don't mean just Mets and Phillies fans. Even in Baltimore, not too far away, also with a bad team, there are always Twins, Tigers, Indians fans when those teams come to town. I'm a die-hard fan, still see 2-3 games a week on homestands. I'd eliminate everything but the President races and focus more on baseball. How will you build the next generation of fans if they come to the park to build a bear?

Posted by: alaistairadams@gmail.com | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Even with the poor team, I'm surprised more people don't go to Nats' games to root for the other team! I went to law school here back in the 60's, with pretty much the same situation: poor team, poor marketing. Remember how people hated Bob Short? But there are so many people from around the country in Washington who showed up and made the games interesting. I know the Senators didn't draw well, either but you get my point. And I don't mean just Mets and Phillies fans. Even in Baltimore, not too far away, also with a bad team, there are always Twins, Tigers, Indians fans when those teams come to town. I'm a die-hard fan, still see 2-3 games a week on homestands. I'd eliminate everything but the President races and focus more on baseball. How will you build the next generation of fans if they come to the park to build a bear?

Posted by: alaistairadams@gmail.com | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Lower season-ticket prices won't have much impact on stadium attendance because it'll just encourage more K Street firms and two-bit IT contractors from Northern Virginia to buy up season-ticket packages that their employees and clients will never use, except for games against the big-name opponents that would have sold out anyway.

If the Nats really want to increase attendance, they'd have weekday afternoon and early evening games. I'm willing to bet that there are more prospective fans in the area who are willing to sneak out of work for a 1:00pm game on a Thursday than are willing to stay past 9:30 any night of the week.

Posted by: athea | September 22, 2008 12:04 PM

not sure what Marc means by "confusion still reigns over getting to and around the stadium site." Huh? getting there is one of the few things that seems OK with the team, though as 20-game ticket holders, we've had more practice than most. But we won't be renewing for 2009 unless the greedy owners (don't they remind you of these Wall St. types and their golden parachutes?) pay up on the overdue rent. Enough of this crap about the stadium not being finished. And even if that issue is addressed, not sure I wanna attend any more games when the 7th inning stretch is bastardized by the playing of God Bless America. I love that song, but I don't go to baseball games to have religion and nationalism rammed down my throat.

Posted by: eomcmars | September 22, 2008 12:04 PM

My wife and I have had season tickets since year one. This year we upgraded our seats and the number of games to a half season package in anticipation of the improved game experience at the new stadium.

From Western Fairfax there really are no good options to getting to the stadium. Nearly an hour by metro or sit in traffic on I-66 and 395 to get across the bridge only to have to take a bus from RFK. No thanks!

The last straw was when the Lerner group and the GM gutted the team again, all the while playing that ridiculous commercial about "pledge your alligence to the NATS". Are they serious? Pledge my alligence? Why should I or any other fan "pledge our alligence" when the owners and GM don't even care? This team is beyond bad. What a horrible product to put on the field and expect fans to pay their hard earned money in a time when the economy is shot.

It goes without saying I will not be renewing my tickets next year or anytime soon. I have serious doubts whether I will even go to a single game next year. At this point I couldn't care less about the NATS.

Posted by: TF | September 22, 2008 12:06 PM

Der missus and I went to the stadium yesterday hoping to get a couple of cheap walk-up tickets, and we were told the only seats left were $35 each. We left and went home. A friend who was at the game told me later that you could have rolled a bowling ball down many rows in the upper deck without hitting anyone.

Posted by: Herr Maus | September 22, 2008 10:20 AM"


I was at the game and there was almost no one in the 400 sections. While it's true that some people don't sit in their assigned seats and wander around, I am fairly confident that if you were told there were no seats available for less than $35 you were lied to.

The official attendance, 29,608, is 13,000 below the ballpark's capacity. Since 18,000 of those are season tickets, which cluster in the more expensive lower bowl and club levels, it is inconceivable that there were no seats available in the EMPTY 400 sections and the partly filled 300 sections, where all seats are under $30.

I believe this pattern has been in place all season, and have experienced it myself. If the District wants to play hardball in the rent dispute, a fraud investigation would be a great place to start.

Meanwhile, I suggest fans use StubHub, where I bought upper deck seats between home and third for Thursday night's Mets game for $4 apiece (yes, you read that right) and by so doing helped out a season ticket holder and also avoided giving the Lerners any extra revenue.

Posted by: Meridian | September 22, 2008 12:09 PM

A few quick points--

Sad fact is Washington cares nothing about teams that aren't the Redskins. Case in point: hockey. Alex Ovechkin is considered the BEST player in his sport. Does that mean Verizon Center was packed last season? Hardly. "Fans" only started showing up very close to playoffs time.

Another point: Post coverage of teams other than the Redskins is thin, weak and ineffective. Heck, the paper doesn't even cover the Nats' minor league system with at least three clubs a quick drive away. Guess what: the Potomac Nationals won the Carolina League championship this month. How did Post readers get the news? TWO DAYS LATER with a small item filed by the Washington Nationals beat writer who was with the team IN MIAMI!

So you have an apathetic fan-base getting its news from an apathetic paper.

Posted by: Pedro | September 22, 2008 12:11 PM

Even if the Nats stink they need to get a couple players worth watching. They don't have a history to draw on so they really have a rough time riding out the dry spells.

Also, it would really help if the economy didn't stink. I am convinced that their timing was bad because people did not have these tickets built into their budgets and are reluctant to add a big, new expense when they are not feeling financial secure.

Posted by: josey23 | September 22, 2008 12:12 PM

Where to begin...

I am a baseball fan and cannot stress enough the poor quality and management of the concession lines. Running out of food, sullen unfriendly service and waits of 1.5-2 innings when the park is half full. Why go to the game if I have to miss so much of it?

Add to this the fact that ownership doesn't care about putting a quality team on the field and, in doing so, refuses to pay the rent on their sweetheart deal of a free stadium.

I may not go at all next year. It's absurd that I spend my hard earned money on a team that I know is going to stink to line the pockets of jerk owners who won't uphold their basic obligation to pay their rent to the city. If the ballpark isn't done, go play somewhere else.

Posted by: Davey | September 22, 2008 12:37 PM

It sounds like there are two problems here that could be solved with one policy change. Season ticket holders aren't renewing, and the club isn't selling the insanely expensive seats behind home plate. Why not offer each season ticket holder a couple of games from those seats in place of their current tickets? The Nats get more people in those highly-visible seats and season ticket holders have a little more reason to renew.

Posted by: Scott | September 22, 2008 12:39 PM

I think that the ushers are a TREMENDOUS improvement over RFK. No they don't wipe down your seat (which would annoy me anyways), but they greet you with a smile and help you out if you need.

I think the biggest problem is the team and how poorly they have done. If they create some excitement on the field, then people come and people stay. People have stayed to the end of the close games I have been to. There also needs to be some clarification about what happens with Metro for extra-inning games. I am not clear how late they will stay open and if I'm going to get stuck at L'Enfant Plaza waiting for a Yellow line train that may never come.

The difference between the Nats and the small market teams that support their losing teams is that they have a history and relationships with the community that will take time to build here. I take my kids (three of them under 10 years old) to games and it is the only team they have known, so they will be supporting this team in the future as their 'hometown' team. They are developing a sense of the 'culture' of the stadium, it's quirks, the promotions (love the Racing Presidents!) that will be essential to developing and maintaining the team's identity over the long run. Look to the Marlins, who have not been able to do that successfully (it does not help that their stadium is so remotely located).

That said, I think the Lerners need to pay their rent. They are risking a public relations fiasco rivaling the disdain that the community has for Dan Snyder over a stadium that was in perfect shape on Opening Night. (I was there.)

Posted by: Infield Gallery | September 22, 2008 12:45 PM

I, too, will not renew my season tickets. It's over, Lerners. You had your chance and you blew it.

Posted by: itsover | September 22, 2008 12:48 PM

I've had partial season tickets for three of the four seasons the Nationals have been in DC. I won't be renewing for next year. It's not that the team is losing -- I'm willing to hang in there if I feel like the guys I'm watching will be part of a winning team someday. It's that I don't see potential for next year. Or the year after that. That's what makes the schlep down to Southeast so depressing -- it's not the distance, it's not the lack of nearby bars, it's not even the lack of winning -- it's that this might be as good as it gets for a few years.

Posted by: TheGreenMiles | September 22, 2008 12:48 PM

Yeah, and pay your damn rent, too. Cheap buzzards.

Posted by: itsover | September 22, 2008 12:49 PM

I agree with that -- the team will only get worse next year because of those cheap buzzards. The place has become depressing. Who wants to watch your team lose, lose, lose.

Posted by: itsover | September 22, 2008 12:50 PM

Just more evidence here on how irrelevant the Nats have already become here. Has to be a record for a new franchise. But not suprising in a city where baseball has already failed twice.

A new stadium and they're averaging 18th in the league in attendance? Disgraceful. Given, the stadium is bland, with still (incredibly) extremely poor vending. But you'd think any team would draw better. Not in this town, especially not with a team closing in on 100 losses, an embarrassing 40 games under .500. Then throw in the extremely weak numbers of people watching on tv and listening on the radio, and it really is embarrassing. This city is a huge market and allegedly was supposed to be a great baseball town. I think that ridiculous notion is pretty much gone now. After two failed franchises already, now they can't even draw in a new stadium and nobody is listening or watching outside the park.

And enough whining about injuries. It's not like the Nats had an all-star team even when fully healthy. They maybe, maybe had a 72-90 type season ahead at best. This team is full of castoffs and overhyped/underwhelming prospects, they weren't going to be interesting even if everyone stayed healthy.

And to the people complaining about the lack of coverage in the paper or in the news? Please, let some reality sink in. This team is drawing embarrassingly bad for a new stadium. Nobody is listening or watching the team. Why should the Post write more articles on this pile of garbage franchise? The Redskins have made the playoffs two of three seasons. The Caps are young and exciting and selling record #s of tickets. The Wizards...well there are always articles to write about Arenas's surgeries. If the owners and managers of this team want to shovel a big steaming pile of nothing to those of us that have paid for tickets, they shouldn't be suprised when the little interest there was almost completely dies off.

Thanks Lerners for your constant examples of cheapness for proving naysayers right about a franchise here. Thanks Kasten for again showing why you're the most overrated exec in baseball. Just keep pricing those seats up, not paying your bills, telling us cheap seats are sold out, and keep putting a miserable product on the field as long as you like. Oh and keep not-signing your high draft picks.

And the kool-aid drinkers that want to think things will be better down the road? Under these guys? Yeah right. When the Nats draft Strasburg, what's the over/under on how fast the Nats DON'T sign him or pay him what he's worth? Don't worry, they'll throw millions though at overweight castoffs the other 29 teams won't touch, and tell you how the team is much better.

Puke.

Posted by: Molseed | September 22, 2008 12:56 PM

Lerner seems to be following the Disney school of sports marketing, which the Mighty Ducks made into an art form (with their iceskating cheerleaders and winged giant duck mascot, an older cousin of Screech). While Disney attempted to teach Orange County fans about hockey (with scoreboard cartoons with Goofy describing the different penalties), it was ultimately about entertainment, not the beauty of the sport itself. They did make a ton of money and got some good players, though. Not so ironic then that when Disney sold the team to a small group of local investors, they changed their name (now just "Ducks") and logo, streamlined their approach (the sport was about the game itself), and with many of the same players won a Stanley Cup less than 2 years later.

Posted by: The Roadworrier | September 22, 2008 1:12 PM

I would have attended more games this year, but my conscience couldn't bear going to a stadium for which the team's owners did not feel necessary to pay. The few times I did go, I sure didn't notice a thing that seemed unfinished about the stadium, at least not anything that would affect my attending and enjoying the game.

If the situation was so bad that the team wouldn't pay any rent, then I don't think they deserved to play there. That's how it works for the rest of us - we don't pay rent, and we get evicted. Did this bother anyone else?

Posted by: EAD | September 22, 2008 1:25 PM

The Lerners' complaint that the stadium is not "substantially complete" is ridiculous. WaPo story last week said they had complaints about the scoreboard and the sound system. My only problem with the sound system is that it's so loud it often makes conversation impossible. And if there's a problem with the scoreboard, I haven't heard anyone mention it.

And not once have I seen, at the ballpark, any yellow-and-black warning tape around a construction area that says "DANGER - DO NOT CROSS."

So, Lerners, please show us the parts of the ballpark that are not "substantially complete." Otherwise, pay the goddam rent, you cheap chislers.

Posted by: BPSCG | September 22, 2008 1:28 PM

More proof that professional sports teams are a total waste to the average citizen, and dont provide any economic advantage. Bet you the Nats fold within 5 years and stick DC with that expensive stadium.

Posted by: Truth hurts | September 22, 2008 1:30 PM

DC is not a baseball town. Fair weather fans?? Look at the success of the Redskins, Mystics, Wizards and Caps. Baseball SUCKS and only about 10 percent of the residents of this area wanted a stadium. Now they have one and a terrible team to go along with it.

Posted by: Marc has is half right... | September 22, 2008 1:58 PM

We went to 10 games this year. Nationals Park is a nice setting. Personnel at the concessions stands are indifferent at best. Ushers are annoying nannys. And the team on the field is a farce. If the Lerners can stiff DC because the stadium is not complete, I want a 50% refund of this year's tickets because the Nats fielded a AA team instead of an MLB team.

The worst moment was the 12-0 loss to the Mets. I could have had more fun using the $120 I paid for tickets as fire starter.

Posted by: Section 128 H | September 22, 2008 1:59 PM

Wow... DC is still paying for this team?

ROFL

How pathetic.

Enjoy your subsidies for the next 50 years LOL. In the mean time, Ill head on up to Baltimore and watch a read game in a real stadium ;)

Posted by: Yawn | September 22, 2008 2:06 PM

How about paying the rent? With over $135 Million in revenues plus $25 million in MASN payments and a payroll below $60 million, I think they can afford the $3.5 million, plus late fees.

When the send me an invoice, I'll respond, you pay your bill and I'll pay mine.

Posted by: Cap Hil Section 112 | September 22, 2008 2:23 PM

Wow, I have also been to about 20 games this year and agree with many of the astute comments here. Just a bit more:

Take a page out of Ted Leonsis' book. I had not been to a Caps game in about 10 years, but went to a couple of games last season. I could not believe how crowded the arena was and packed with Caps fans, rather than fans of the opposing team. My inbox has been filled with special offers and enticements to become a season ticket holder. I am a Nats season ticket holder and have never felt this much love. I should note that the Caps operate in the same, Redskins obsessed media market as the Nats, so no crying foul about that, Nats.

Another point, as a Virginian, it is more of a hassle to get to the new stadium (either switching metro lines, putting up with the shuttle hassles at RFK or paying even more money for expensive lots near the stadium). I will probably give up my season tickets next year and just go to a few games here and there.

Totally agree about ditching Clint and all the non-baseball hoopla between innings. If you want to build the casual fan, I'm not sure this is the way to do it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 3:00 PM

"The problem is that right now the Nats are a team without a soul. No stars, no compelling story line, no history. The team is being run pretty brazenly purely for profit (see withholding the rent). A visit to the ball park shows all of these problems. Nobody is attached to the club. It's a dull, lifeless experience."

It almost sounds like you're talking about the city of Washington, DC for a second...

Posted by: RF | September 22, 2008 3:45 PM

In all seriousness though, if the Nationals are to actually be committed to building a quality, MAJOR LEAGUE level franchise, then they have to be willing to drop some coin (whether it be on scouts who can actually build the farm system, or a free agent splash or 2). As the old addage goes: "you have to spend money to make money." Numerous other franchises (not just the Yankees, for all of you haters out there) have spent money on a name or two and have steadily built up their franchises again (see the Detroit Tigers or LA Dodgers); you would think that in the era of revenue sharing that the Nats owners and GMs would get it, but I suppose not. (BTW, Anonymous mentioned some good ideas worth looking into.)

I believe that the swindler Lerners owe it to the town that so graciously subsidized their sparkling new "cathedral" to put a quality product out there on the field.

Posted by: RF | September 22, 2008 3:53 PM

"Enjoy your subsidies for the next 50 years LOL. In the mean time, Ill head on up to Baltimore and watch a read game in a real stadium ;)"

Ditto that, Yawn.

Posted by: RF | September 22, 2008 3:55 PM

Rent Comment: I've read that the sewage backs up into the stadium when it rains - if true, wouldn't you withhold rent? Fisher - why no comment from the DCSEC about the Nats withholding rent. I know that Vincent Gray is "outraged" - when is he not?

As for the $5 - here's a free solution for Ted Lerner. Sell SRO tickets. If so many people are buying $5 seats to hang at the Red Porch, good for you - you made the right call on the porch. But if leaving those seats empty is denying fans the chance to go to the game, why sell a ticket to someone who doesn't plan to use it.

See, problem solved with a little creative thinking.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | September 22, 2008 5:31 PM

the lerners are terrible people and we'd all be better off if they sold the team. they are a) cheap (don't spend any money on the team) and b) greedy (the expensive pricing). they are horrible baseball people.

Posted by: dagger | September 22, 2008 5:55 PM

It should tell you something about the Post's approach to the Nats that it's taking the METRO guy to stir up some dialogue about the team. I think the best way to put it is The Washington Times -- a paper I normally ignore -- takes the Nats seriously; the Post doesn't. Day in and day out, the breadth and depth of the other paper's coverage exceeds that of the Post by a wide margin. Harlan has the same problem as his hack predecessor: treating game stories as junior-high 'themes' (today's who-cares theme was The Life and Times of Odalis Perez) instead of telling us WHAT HAPPENED IN THE BLOODY GAME.

Your options for thoughtful commentary on the Nats are even more limited:

Boswell - more interested in Skins, Olympics, and O's; hesitant to call a spade a spade when dealing with the Nats' profound troubles on and off the field
Solomon - semi-retired, not a true columnist, writes once a week
Wilbon, Wise, Jenkins - can't be bothered

The halfhearted, half-assed baseball reportage is just one of many problems besetting one of the worst sports sections in the country.

Posted by: Red Smith | September 22, 2008 5:56 PM

The failure to cover the P-Nats is inexcusable. They are a professional sports franchise in the DC Metro area, and several likely stars of the future played there this year.

But it's all part of a general malaise that has beset the Post sports section. The way they figure it, if it ain't burgundy and gold, it ain't news.

Posted by: Arriba 21 | September 22, 2008 6:35 PM

You got to get over the smell to enjoy the game.

Within the next 5 years look for this team to go to Texas, like the last one.

The city will know then what a mistake it was to build in that location, when RFK was so much better.

Posted by: Billy Ray Edwards | September 23, 2008 2:30 AM

>>

Agreed. RFK was run down, worn out, and frayed but it was comfortable...sort of like a favorite old bathrobe. But, it apparently didn't appeal to the Blue Hairs with old money and corporations with big "client" entertainment budgets.

Posted by: Frustrated Fan | September 23, 2008 7:40 AM

"Take a page out of Ted Leonsis' book. I had not been to a Caps game in about 10 years, but went to a couple of games last season. I could not believe how crowded the arena was and packed with Caps fans, rather than fans of the opposing team."

Obviously you were attending the games near the end of the season and not the ones being held in October - March. Trust me, the place was empty during the week and about 2/3 full during the weekend. The only thing that the Caps prove is that this is a bandwagon town and once the Nats get good - people will start hopping on that wagon. I do agree that the Caps have the Nats beat in marketing by a long ways.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | September 23, 2008 9:03 AM

Arlington, while I don't disagree that there were a lack of fans for most of the Capitals season (heck, even my faith was wavering in November!), the Capitals front office was tirelessly pushing people to come to games. Every week I recieved offers for discounted tickets, often to "big" games. I sat in the lower bowl for a game against the Rangers for half price! The Nationals frequently have attendance problems, too, but I don't see them reaching out to me, syaing "Come to our games, and let us make it even more enticing for you!" Like I said very early in the thread, we saved up and set aside a "season ticket fund" with the intent to get Nationals tickets. We ended up going with the Caps in large part because of the customer service we got from them last season, even thoguh we didn't have "season ticket holder" attached to our names.

Posted by: Birdie | September 23, 2008 10:05 AM

It might help if the prices at the stadium weren't so ridiculously high. I've been once, and I am never going back. $7.50 for a beer? I understand the need to cover costs and make a profit, but there is a difference between making a profit and flat out gouging people. The prices at the stadium are way out of line with other places. And for what? A team that stinks? They have completely ruined what could have been a great social experience.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | September 23, 2008 2:03 PM

There are many bars in the DC area that DON'T have baseball fields attached to them and still charge $7 or more for a beer. If you find the price of a beer too high at Nationals Park, don't order one. You can still watch the game without it.

Posted by: so there | September 23, 2008 2:38 PM

"There are many bars in the DC area that DON'T have baseball fields attached to them and still charge $7 or more for a beer."

Okay, name one DC bar that charges $7.50 for a Miller Genuine Draft (normal size).

Posted by: so, so there | September 23, 2008 3:19 PM

To the Lerners.

1. Pay the rent. It makes you look cheap.
2. Lower beer prices!
3. Sign a free agent or two. (not Manny though!!)
4. Get rid of Clint, show baseball hightlights, bloopers between innings.
5. Lower parking prices
6. sign Zimmerman to a long term deal. Over pay if you have to. It'll be much cheaper than in 3-4 years when he becomes a free agent. Show a committment.
7. Increase selection/variety of Nats stuff in the Nats store.
8. Let the Presidents race for real. The Teddy doesn't win stichk is getting old.
9. You need to post scores of other games along the 1st/3rd base signs for those he can't read the scoreboard.
10.If the Wash Post isn't going to cover the minor league, team the Lerners should take a one page ad out in the Sports section once a month with information on their minor league affiliates. That would send a HUGE message to us fans taht you're trying to reach us.
11. I likely won't be renewing my season (full) ticket package but you're still my team.

Posted by: Section 315 | September 23, 2008 3:22 PM

As a partial season ticket holder I have to agree with virtually all the negative comments offered so far. One exception would be complaints about neighborhood. We live within walking distance of the stadium and find that getting to and from is both easy and safe. Officers on foot, on bikes, and in squad cars are everywhere along the primary walking routes.

As for the LA-attitude fans, many of them aren't in their seats until the 3rd inning because they are either a) supervising the youngsters at the outfield distractions, or b) standing in a long line for food. And can you watch the game in that line? Sometimes, but sometimes you get stuck watching news from around the country, trying to follow progress on the field via crowd noise. Whose idea was that?

Those of us who inhabit the upper deck on a regular basis, where many group sales tickets end up, also have to suffer the added indignity of trying to watch the game while dealing with the constant traffic of people for whom the game holds less interest than socializing with their companions, the different food to be sampled, the souvenirs to be bought, and the multiple restroom trips required by anyone under the age of consent. Maybe, instead of cheesy (and embarassing crowd-choice) events between innings the Nats could figure out some activities to encourage people to watch the game (!), and exercise some manners while they're at it.

Posted by: cranger907 | September 23, 2008 3:48 PM

A $19 ticket at camden yards is $56 at nats park. A $55 at the yard is $400 at nats park. Give me boogs bbq over hard times anytime.

Posted by: atothe2 | September 23, 2008 9:38 PM

The majority of the comments here display the major reason why there are issues with the Nationals. Most people who've been in town for 10-20 years aren't fans to start with. No local team, littkle desire to drive to Baltimore, and a poor excuse for a baseball sports page. The Post has climbed squarely on the NFL bandwagon, and the really good baseball writers work in other towns. Sorry, Chico, but you're simply not a baseball guy and it shows. And Marc, your grasp of the game is tenuous at best. Signing a big name free agent cures nothing. Winning solves everything. Think the Dodgers are happy with Andruw Jones? Teixeira would likely sell a few tickets, but also skew the salary structure. There's a prize for losing this year: SDSU righty Stephen Strasburg. He'll cure a lot of woes.

Posted by: bosox1419 | September 24, 2008 9:49 AM

In a transient city with plenty of entertainment alternatives, attending pro sporting events is too expenseive and offers too little.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 1:06 PM

The design of the ballpark is a lost opportunity in terms of being something that draws fan. The seating bowl, circulation and scoreboad are terrific but the backdrop provided by the bland parking garages and concrete plaza around them weigh down the whole personality of the ballpark. What would Camden Yards be if not for the aesthetic impression created by the Warehouse and Eutaw Street? Also the parking garages are the front door to the stadium; its brutal face to the city. They need to be replaced by some type of icon structures that establish a real unique sense of place. Someone seems to have decided that the design vernacular of Washington is that of the Convention Center and the Verizon Center rather than the inspirational classical design of the federal buildings. The parking garages need to be replaced by something that reflects the architecture of the Capitol, Union Station and Federal Triangle and sets a real image for being in Washington, DC.

Posted by: Loyal Fan | September 26, 2008 6:09 AM

The design of the ballpark is a lost opportunity in terms of being something that draws fan. The seating bowl, circulation and scoreboad are terrific but the backdrop provided by the bland parking garages and concrete plaza around them weigh down the whole personality of the ballpark. What would Camden Yards be if not for the aesthetic impression created by the Warehouse and Eutaw Street? Also the parking garages are the front door to the stadium; its brutal face to the city. They need to be replaced by some type of icon structures that establish a real unique sense of place. Someone seems to have decided that the design vernacular of Washington is that of the Convention Center and the Verizon Center rather than the inspirational classical design of the federal buildings. The parking garages need to be replaced by something that reflects the architecture of the Capitol, Union Station and Federal Triangle and sets a real image for being in Washington, DC.

Posted by: Hopeful Fan | September 26, 2008 6:09 AM

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