For baseball fans, the park is the compass that we orient ourselves with; it sets the stage, its orthogonal lines and sloping curves like a map before the spectator serving as guidepost and direction. As baseball returns to Nationals Park, some things are the same, some have changed, and we’re here to get you ready for Opening Day and beyond. While much remains the same on South Capitol Street, there’ve been some changes that you should be ready for.
First up is Half Street, most fans’ entrance to the park, and the home of the Metro. This winter, the western side of Half Street was revamped entirely and is now home to the Half Street Fairgrounds, which is patterned after Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market. The space that was formerly the Bullpen and Das Bullpen will be augmented by the presence of food trucks, beer stands, and places to congregate and relax ahead of, and following, each game. The industrial feel matches the construction that has languished in the area thanks to the economy’s slow recovery, and the decor includes shipping containers. One friend said of the new architecture, though, that she was taking her evening job in the other direction, and on off-days I don’t expect this place looks quite the same. We’ll have to see what the season brings.
New Ticket Options
The Nationals have a couple new ticket options for fans this season. Weekends are big at Nats Park, and there are two options for weekend games to pique your interest. Thursday and Fridays, Burger Pack tickets get you into the Upper Outfield Gallery and Outfield Reserve sections, as well as vouchers for a burger, some fries and a soda for $20-29 depending on where you seat and who’s in town.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are Miller Light Party Nights in center field, with Scoreboard Pavilion seats running $25-27, but coming with a pair of drink coupons good for a soda, a bottled water, or a beer at the Scoreboard Walk bar. Neither offer is good for games against the Yankees, but other than that the rest of the season is fair game.
New Features at Nats Park
Yes, Shake Shack and the other new concessions are all coming back to the Scoreboard Walk area in center field. They’re even adding a new twist this season, in the form of loyalty rewards. The “Eat for the Cycle” cards have spots for stamps from Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Box Frites, and El Verano Taquería, and collecting all four stamps gets you a double dip ice cream from Shake Shack, or a Salty Peanut Jalapeño chocolate bar, or a fried pie, or a churro. Or, fans can submit their card for a chance to win four tickets with field passes for batting practice and dinner for four at the center field concessions from Union Square Events.
In addition, new options from USE include a fried chicken sandwich from Blue Smoke, Buffalo and BLT hot dogs from Box Frites, as well as curry sauce for their signature fries. El Verano Taquería will add barbacoa and vegetarian quesadillas, as well as the aforementioned churros.
Last season’s beer garden is getting an expansion, with two full sections of a brewhouse from Sam Adams, down the 3rd base line. Look behind sections 111 and 112 for a new set of tables, some drink rails and high def TVs.
Nats Park added 20 new cherry trees along the timeline walk between the home plate gate and the Potomac Ave/South Capitol Street intersection, bringing the number of decorative yoshino cherry trees to 34.
The turf at Nats Park got a full renovation this off-season for the first time since it opened in 2008. New Kentucky Bluegrass was planted, after new sand and drainage zones, as well as a nice new warning track in the outfield for the Presidents to run in the 4th inning.
Each series, the concessions will add cuisine themed to the opponents at their Taste of the Majors stands in sections 117 and 313. When the Phillies come, look for the chicken cCheesesteak platter, and some fish tacos when the Padres come to town. The Battle of the Beltways will mean Baltimore Pit Beef sandwiches head south to DC for the weekend.
Pups in the Park is back
Pups in the Park is back for another season, with four dates to bring your four-legged friend to Nats Park with special outfield seats for owners and $8 tickets for the pooches, with proceeds benefitting the Washington Humane Society. Don’t worry, there are pet-sitters on call if you want to wander the park a little, and there are relief areas setup for your pets near section 143.
Most importantly, fans can look forward to some really good baseball this season. The off-season acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson have built one of the best pitching rotations in the majors, and couple that with a lights-out bullpen and a healthy Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman and an adjusted Jayson Werth, and you’ve got a team that can compete for the playoffs.
So come on down to the ballpark. The Nationals are at home through the end of next weekend, and you won’t want to miss it.