July 20, 2006

Another kind of sucking -- the fan experience at RFK.

Time for some mindless drivel from the fan experience guy. Been a busy couple of weeks (of which some weren't even spent in DC), so I haven't had a chance to do much.

My last visit to RFK with Nate, I had a wholly unsatisfying experience. Incompetence at the Dominic's line forced me to stand and wait holding my damn hot dog while they closed the register, counted all the money, and reopened it. Apparently, the ideal of moving ONE of the 5 people behind the counter to the other register so they could actually serve customers was an idea that required just way too much thought for our friends at Dominic's. I also learned that apparently there is a policy -- A POLICY -- for shutting down the register when there is an error, forcing everyone to wait.

I was two people from getting my damn hot dog.

Since there isn't that much to eat at RFK, my other favorite remains the pretzel. It's only good before the 5th inning, mind you, because by the 5th the damn things have dried out and become nasty. (I'm starting to think about soft serve by that point anyway, but you still have to make sure to eat it early enough.) On that particular game, apparently there was a massive, worldwide shortage of pretzels, because the only ones available were all apparently "not ready".

My bitterness showed no bounds that night. Add to that Nate's bitterness about the general sucky nature of the team, and we achieved a multi-dimensional level of bitterness. We did score bobbleheads, so the night wasn't a total loss.

In comparison, my wife and I were up at what I still think of as the Baltimore Arena on this past Saturday night to see a show. I've always thought of the Arena as a dump -- their big draw is the Baltimore Blast, for god's sake -- but when there, I realized that RFK is actually a bigger dump when it comes to service.

The Arena offered a wide variety of food (including some very tasty oversized pretzels for $4), two sizes of beer (the massive, must-push-it-with-a-cart beer my wife had made her night), and on top of that, for the huge number of people getting food in the intermission, a very efficient food system. I watched them restock the oversized pretzels 3 times before I got to the front -- they were moving pretzels at a rate of one every 15 seconds -- and when I got mine, it was hot, fresh and delicious.

I bow my head in respect to the Arena, for it has topped our own cesspool of a stadium.

Which brings me to the letter I received from the fine folks at the Nationals bragging about their upgrades.

"Enhancements to RFK Stadium"

Included in the list are improvements in landscaping, cleanliness, providing helpful and cheerful service, and great entertainment.

Great. I'll believe the third one when I see it, but the others seem like something they can accomplish.

On concessions, they have promised, "100 new concessions points-of-sale, new menu selections and a new food court on the Mezzanine Level".

This could go a long way to helping, I must admit. If they actually have 100 new locations (or even registers), and staff them, then it won't be such a pain to get food. New menu selections hopefully mean they're good. There are several items on the menu now I consider nearly inedible, so it's hard to pass judgment. The food court -- well, we'll see when it happens, won't we?

I'm open minded, and want to give them a chance. This should be the first real move our new overlords. Say what you will about the trade (and many of you have), but that's still our man Trader Jim. I see this weekend as our real first sign on how the owners intend to treat us. If they make the effort, make some changes, and try and listen to fans on some of the important things. This is what will drive casual fans, and it's what will help drive loyalty.

Ultimately, this is entertainment -- you want your entertainment to be a good experience. Players will come and go, but the fan experience needs to be a continuous, positive thing for momentum to continue. I look forward to seeing the new look tomorrow.

P.S. I was going to update my success list for this month, but there's really no point, is there?

1 comment:

Nate said...

No, there really isn't.