Nats New Stadium Not Quite Fenway

10 07 2008

I went to the brand new Nationals Stadium in DC the other night and I have to say it is really impressive.  Everything about it.  The city did an amazing job bringing a state of the art ballpark to a neighborhood that needed some kind of commercial future to appeal commercial interests to the area.  There really isn’t a bad seat in the whole place, we got those $5 seats that are the absolute farthest away that any one person can get from home plate and yet, you were able to see everything without a problem.  The one thing that felt so strange was the lackluster crowd, I know that they have horrible attendance and I shouldn’t have been surprised but I couldn’t help it.  There were vastly more people in the crowd wearing the apparel of other teams, not even of the teams that the Nationals were playing, but just other teams.  And granted, I was one of them but it still felt strange to me.

To be fair, this was my 5th MLB game (two at Fenway Park, one at Shea Stadium, one at RFK and one at Nationals Stadium) and I have been rather spoiled thus far in the parks that I have seen games at.  While Shea may not be the best stadium around they have always had pretty supportive fans and so it was really easy to get into the game.  I think that I may have been most struck by the walk out of the park and down to the Navy Yard Metro stop.  It was rushed, everyone was desperately trying to weave in and out of the crowd just to get away, to get on the train and head back to wherever it is that they came from.  Maybe it’s the surrounding area, SE DC isn’t known for high standards of living, but I think it’s more than that.  The designers of the park and the surrounding area very clearly made a point of having the stadium be the focal point of the neighborhood and as a part of that plan created wide avenues for shops, restaurants and more importantly for people to congregate.  Whether or not the influx of shops and restaurants currently being built there will have an effect on the fans remains to be seen.  But, I’m not going to hold my breath either.

I had been thinking about this experience for the past couple days and had just started to let it slip away when I saw this article on ESPN.  Jeff Pearlman wrote this about what it is like to walk out of Fenway Park comparing it to his memories of seeing Coney Island as a little kid.  I can attest to this, Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street are bustling with life before and after games.  There’s something about it, you can’t really put your finger on what it is.  I’m sure some of it is related to my love for Boston and the Red Sox, but I’m not convinced that it can all be summed up so easily.  There is something that pulls you in, there is an energy in the crowd, these are people that would like nothing more than to spend the rest of their day/evening out amongst the people around Fenway.




One response

10 07 2008

Beautifully written, but clearly you have not experienced the magic that is a Minnesota Twins game… the rowdy fans, the breeze coming from the AC… just something for you to look forward to.

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