Prepare yourself, Nats fans, for the 2011 season. No, I’m not talking about the Playoffs (hah!) or even a winning record (Let’s call that an 8% chance), but the 2011 season appears to be the start of a new era in Nats Town on a number of counts, so if you’re heading out to the ballpark, here’s a few things you can expect to see at the stadium that are new or different this year.
Left Field Tent is Gone: We’ve known about this one for a few weeks, but I didn’t realize until I got up into the press box this afternoon how stark the difference is. With the party tent removed from the left field garage, you’ve got much better sightlines all along the third base line toward the Capitol and Library of Congress. Sure, the building at M and Half Street is still in the way, but there just hasn’t been enough dynamite to get rid of that thing yet.
The Bullpen is Growing: No, not the Nats’ bullpen, which remains its usual size of 7 able-bodied men, the left field pop-up bar around gametime is expanding a bit to add a biergarten called Das Bullpen with picnic tables and room for 600, as well as beers on tap and sausages on the grill. More at JDLand.
Shake Shack is Coming: The word that Five Guys was departing Nats Park’s concessionaries was a bit of a blow to burger-lovers, but MASN’s Kristin Hudak reports that Shake Shack is one of four new eateries in along the outfield Scoreboard Walk which will include a taqueria, a frites place, and a barbeque joint as well as the Shake Shack frozen custard-and-burgers spot. If you want a preview of the place before it opens its Dupont Circle location this Spring, Nats Park is the place to be. The new concessions will open “late this Spring” which I suspect means June. Until then, there are very limited concessions around the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk until they open. Look for long lines if that’s where your seats are.
New Sculptures along the Garages: Sure, they just look like giant rows of baseballs on an arc, but they’re actually representative of the motion of a curving fastball, and will be lit at night.
A Few New Faces: Along with the new concessions and whatnot, the Nationals have a few new faces on the field for Opening Day including rookies Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos (who you saw at the end of 2010) at second base, and new National Jayson Werth in Right Field, as well as new relief man Brian Broderick (whose joy at making the team is adorable), closer-contender Todd Coffey, fifth-starter Tom Gorzelanny, and outfield Rick Ankiel have all found spots on the Opening Day 25-man roster.