March 30, 2008

Saturday in the Park

What Dave said, with pictures! For those of you who prefer the synopsis, here it is: "It was worth every red nickel of the city's $611M, plus however much else our thrifty overlords chipped in." Need convincing? Keep reading.

My better half and I left the Van Dorn Metro station at just before 3:30, switched trains twice at King Street and L'Enfant Plaza, and popped out of the very large Navy Yard Station exit just after 4:30. Here's the view from the Half Street exit.

Factoring in the downtown crowds from the marathon, the cherry blossoms, the kite festival and general touristy goodness I'd say that's about the timeline to expect for your average weekend game. The postgame trip is another story, but more on that later.

Half Street is probably not the grandest avenue from which to approach the park, but it does provide a nice frame for the Centerfield Gate, seen here.

And, as Dave said, you can really start to picture what the "Ballpark District" will be like once the construction fills out in a season or two. I expect the revitalization of near Southeast to move faster than the redevelopment of Chinatown because the new stadium isn't the only engine driving things down along the Anacostia.

The Centerfield Gate opens onto the outfield plaza, where we met up with Dave and his dad. To your left the Kids Zone, complete video games for the ADHD-impaired and a Build-A-Screech Workshop. (Warning: Building your own Big Chicken can easily set you back $40.00.) To your right? Food, glorious food. The lines for Ben's Chili Bowl were massive, so if you crave a half-smoke all the way (devine) or a turkey dog w/ veggie chili (also good), line up early.

The sightlines are as advertised. The only bad seats in the house are the ones in the rightfield corner under the overhang with an obstructed view of the ginormous HD scoreboard. Note: this is not the view from those seats.
The concession stands and vending carts are varied and abundant. At least for one night the Disney training seems to have paid off, as cashiers, ushers and stadium personnel were friendly and helpful. The restrooms, as you'd expect, are pristine and that signature sewage backup smell that was omnipresent in RFK is absent. Even better (from someone's perspective, I suppose) the facilities are eco-friendly. Pull the flush handle up, and it uses less water than a traditional downward flush.

The view from the ladies room, an NTP semi-exclusive! The mens room was blue.

From NTP's new home there are views of the Capitol, the mighty Anacostia and the Nats bullpen, where Joel Hanrahan was most assuredly not taking a whizz last night. No photos of the non-tinkle available, sorry, enjoy a steamy Dome shot instead. Expect to see quite a bit of some version of that shot. Note the Red Porch restaurant and bar in the foreground, the Washington Hall of Stars on the parking garage to the right and the fully completed, Lerner-owned office building to the left.

The three flags atop the office building? USA, District of Columbia, and the Nationals. God bless synergy.

Finally, almost incidentally, there was a baseball game played last night. Behind just enough pitching from Jason Bergmann and 4 stellar innings of 1-hit relief from Garrett Mock and Irish Mike O'Connor the Nats blanked the filthy orange birds 3-0, sending the two dozen remaining occupants of NTP's new home into rapturous applause. And yes, Bang! Zoom! went the fireworks.

We'll let Boz have the last word on the new digs:

Until tonight, farewell from Section 223!

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