Nationals Park

Nationals Park
The Sea of Red
Address 1500 South Capitol Street SE
Location Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°52′22″N 77°0′27″W / 38.87278°N 77.00750°W / 38.87278; -77.00750Coordinates: 38°52′22″N 77°0′27″W / 38.87278°N 77.00750°W / 38.87278; -77.00750
Public transit Navy Yard–Ballpark
Green Line Green Line
Parking 14 sanctioned parking lots or garages
Owner Ted Lerner
Operator Washington Nationals Baseball Club LLC.
Capacity 41,313[1]
Record attendance 45,966, October 12, 2012 vs (Cardinals)
Field size Left Field - 337 feet (103 m)
Left-Center - 377 feet (115 m)
Center Field - 402 feet (123 m)
Right-Center - 370 feet (113 m)
Right Field - 335 feet (102 m)[2]
Surface Kentucky Bluegrass
Broke ground May 4, 2006
Opened March 22, 2008[3] (college game)[4]
March 29, 2008 (exhibition game)
March 30, 2008 (Opening Day)[5]
Construction cost $693 million[6]
($763 million in 2016 dollars[7])
Architect Populous (then HOK Sport)
Devrouax & Purnell Architects - Planners
Project manager Turner/Brailsford & Dunlavey/McKissack & McKissack[8]
Structural engineer ReStl/Thornton Tomasetti[9]
Services engineer M-E Engineers/JVP Engineers/SIM-G Technologies[10]
General contractor Clark/Hunt/Smoot Joint Venture[9]
Washington Nationals (MLB) (2008–present)

Nationals Park is a baseball park located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It is the home ballpark for the Washington Nationals, the city's Major League Baseball franchise. When the Nationals franchise relocated to Washington, D.C., they temporarily played at RFK Stadium until Nationals Park was completed. It is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States.[11] The facility hosted the 2008 season's first game (in North America), when the Nationals hosted the Atlanta Braves on March 30, 2008 and the first game played there was a collegiate baseball game.

The ballpark, designed by HOK Sport (now known as Populous) and Devrouax & Purnell Architects and Planners, was originally to cost $611 million[12] but eventually cost $693 million[6] to build, with an additional $84.2 million spent on transportation, art, and infrastructure upgrades to support the stadium for a total cost of $783.9 million.[13] The stadium originally seated 41,888 fans, but some seats from various parts of the stadium have been removed since its opening to reduce the capacity to 41,546 in 2010,[14] down to 41,487 in 2012,[15] and to 41,418 in 2013.[16][17] The Washington Monument and the Capitol building are visible from the upper decks on the first base side of the field.

Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the Washington Senators/Nationals, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium. The name was originally a temporary name, as the Lerner Family had planned to sell its naming rights. When a strong bid never surfaced, the team chose to stick with Nationals Park.[18] The stadium and its grounds are owned by Events DC.

Nationals Park in May 2013

Nationals Park will host the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the first All-Star Game to be played in Washington, D.C. since 1969.[19] Nationals Park is also home to the traditional Presidents Race during the fourth inning.

Location and transportation

Nationals Park is located in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. on a block of South Capitol Street called Taxation Without Representation Street (a main artery separating Southeast from Southwest Washington) at the Anacostia River waterfront. The ballpark is accessible from I-395 via the Southwest Freeway, and from I-295 via the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which carries South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River. The Douglass Bridge was renovated so that South Capitol Street could continue at ground level past the stadium (it was previously 15 feet (4.6 m) above ground level).

The main method of transportation to the stadium is on the Washington Metro system. The stadium is one block from the Navy Yard – Ballpark station on the Green Line. The station is located near the park's center field entrance (on the opposite side of Capitol Street SE from the main entrance) and is heavily used by fans on game day. Prior to the ballpark's opening, the station's ballpark entrance underwent a major expansion, with the relocation of the farecard mezzanine to street level, along with the addition of an extra escalator and elevator to handle the crowds.

Parking near the stadium is limited. There are a total of 14 Nationals Park-sanctioned parking lots or garages, with a small number of third-party lots also in the vicinity of the stadium. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Nationals ran a free shuttle service (dubbed the "Nats Express") from parking lots at RFK Stadium to Nationals Park on game days. However, the team canceled the service after the 2009 season.

Several Metrobus routes and the DC Circulator's Union Station-Navy Yard Route serve the park. Various other transit options include a water taxi service from Alexandria, Virginia and Georgetown.

Cyclists are encouraged to ride to the stadium and are offered free valet bicycle parking. Garage C, located next to the ticket windows at the corner of 1st and N Street, houses a free bike valet service where fans are invited to store their bikes for the duration of the game. There are also 110 red bike racks on the sidewalks that create the perimeter of the ballpark.


Site selection and design

After it was announced that the Expos would leave Montreal, Washington, DC began looking for a site for a baseball stadium to lure the team to Washington. After considering sites near RFK Stadium, in NoMA and straddling I-395 at Banneker Park the District announced on September 21, 2004 that they had chosen a site near the SE Anacostia waterfront.[20]


Nationals Park, under construction in September 2007, with the U.S. Capitol seen in the background

Financing for the stadium was expected to be provided by a banking syndicate led by Deutsche Bank. However, finalization of the financing deal stalled due to complex negotiations among the city government, MLB as owner of the team, and the bank. The bank requested a letter of credit or comparable financial guarantee against stadium rent to cover risks such as poor attendance or terrorism. The requested guarantee was $24 million, with the city requesting that MLB provide the guarantee. The financing situation was since solved and construction began in May 2006.

The site of Nationals Park was chosen by Mayor Anthony Williams as the most viable of four possibilities for a ballpark. The ballpark's design was released to the public at a press conference on March 14, 2006. Ground breaking was in early 2006. With an ambitious construction schedule of fewer than two years to complete the stadium, a design-build approach was selected to allow the architects and builders to work in concert with one another. Ronnie Strompf, the project superintendent, coordinated the efforts of numerous subcontractors on a daily basis.[21]


The 2008 Washington Nationals season was the team's first in Nationals Park. The George Washington University (GW) and the Nationals announced in February 2008 that the GW Colonials baseball team would play the first game in Nationals Park on March 22, 2008. GW played Saint Joseph's University in an afternoon game[4] and the hometown Colonials had a 94 victory over Saint Joseph's.[22]

The Washington Nationals defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 30, in an exhibition game on March 29, 2008, in their first game in the ballpark.[23]

The Nationals opened the 2008 MLB season in Nationals Park with a rare one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on March 30, which served as the first official MLB game at the park. True to tradition, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Nationals defeated the Braves 32 with a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman,[24] giving the Nationals their first opening day win since moving to Washington. Chipper Jones of the Braves hit the first batted ball and first home run, while the Nationals' Cristian Guzman got the first base hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Zimmerman's game-winning home run was the third walk-off home run in major-league history to be hit in the first MLB game played at a stadium.[25] The game was the most-watched MLB opening night in the history of ESPN.[26]

In their first season at Nationals Park, the Nationals finished with a league-worst record of 59-102.[27] At home, they drew 29,005 fans per game, placing their average attendance at 19th in MLB.[28]

Opening Night, March 30, 2008
Opening Night, March 30, 2008

Seasons and changes

2009 season

Several ballpark improvement projects were completed by the Nationals during the off-season, including:

Concessionaire Levy Restaurants replaced Centerplate as the provider of food and beverage at Nationals Park beginning with the 2009 season.

Before the Nationals 2009 home opener on April 13, 2009 at 3 PM, longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas was found unconscious in the Nationals Park press box at 12:20 PM. Kalas was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:20 PM.[30][31] A moment of silence was held before the game, followed by both Nationals and Phillies fans applauding Kalas in tribute. The Phillies played with a picture of Kalas in their dugout.

On June 4, 2009, Randy Johnson became the 24th pitcher in MLB history to reach 300 wins when the San Francisco Giants beat the Nationals 51 at Nationals Park.[32] The game was scheduled to be played the night before, but was delayed due to heavy rain in the DC-area. On July 4, 2009, Adam Dunn became the 123rd player to hit 300 career home runs. The home run came in the 7th inning in a 5-3 win versus the Atlanta Braves.[33]

2010 season

During the All-Star break, the press box was repainted blue to match the color of the seats. On June 8, 2010, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, called the "most hyped and closely watched pitching prospect in the history of baseball",[34] made his first major league appearance, starting a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates before a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park. Strasburg pitched 7 innings, giving up two runs and striking out 14 batters, a new team strikeout record.

2011 season

Minor changes prior to the start of the 2011 season include the removal of the party tent on top of the LF parking garage to improve views of the U.S. Capitol from upper sections, chrome baseball decorations adorning the outside the stadium, and various signage and concession changes including the departure of Five Guys. Nationals Park also became home of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.[35] In June 2011 four new concession stands opened, owned by Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group: Blue Smoke (barbecue), Box Frites ("Belgian-style fries and dipping sauces"), El Verano Taqueria (Mexican) and Shake Shack (hamburgers, hot dogs, frozen custard).[36] The team has also ended Friday night firework shows and fireworks after home runs and team victories.

2012 season

On May 4 for the series against Philadelphia, the Nationals renamed the park "Natitude Park". This was following their "Take Back the Park" plan, first selling advance tickets to fans in the Washington D.C. area before opening up ticket sales to other states.[37] This marked a shift from recent years where Phillies fans had flooded the park, as the crowd was predominantly Nationals fans and the team took two of three from their division rivals.[38] The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time since relocating to Washington in the 2012 season, with Games 3, 4, and 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals being played in Nationals Park. Washington lost the NLDS 3 games to 2.

2013 season

Team owner Theodore N. Lerner approached D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and other city officials in mid-July 2013 and asked if the city would pay to have a retractable roof built over Nationals Park. After seeing sketches, Gray rejected the proposal at the same meeting. No cost analyses were done prior to the meeting, although team architects speculated it would cost $300 million. City officials noted that the stadium was not designed for a roof.[39]

2015 NHL Winter Classic

On January 1, 2015, Nationals Park hosted the 2015 NHL Winter Classic before a crowd of 42,832 spectators. The Washington Capitals defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 after former Capital, Troy Brouer, scored the go-ahead goal with less than 13 seconds remaining in regulation play. This made the Capitals only the second home team to win a Winter Classic, and the first to win two Winter Classics, having won in Pittsburgh in 2011.

2015 season

On July 17, 2015, during a regular-season game between the Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a series of three power outages affected a bank of lights along the park's third base line. The first power outage, which occurred in the bottom of the 4th inning, resulted in a delay of 1 hour and 22 minutes. Play was later resumed as the pitchers retired the next 5 batters. In the middle of the 5th inning, another power outage occurred, which resulted in a 40-minute delay. The bottom of the 5th inning was later played; at the end of the inning, a third power outage occurred. Due to the power outages, the game was suspended in the top of the 6th inning, with the Nationals leading the Dodgers 3-2 at that point. The game was resumed the next afternoon, with the Nationals winning against the Dodgers, 5-3.

Average attendance

Average regular season attendance[40]
Season Average attendance
2008 29,005
2009 22,435
2010 22,569
2011 24,256
2012 29,269
2013 32,746
2014 31,844
2015 32,344
2016 30,641


The exterior of Nationals Park

As of the 2016 season, the ballpark has 41,313 seats and features 79 suites on three levels, all around the infield.[41] Team President Stan Kasten also said that the team might sell the naming rights to the levels of the luxury suites, which currently bear the names of presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. While the city agreed to spend up to $611 million, Kasten has stated that the principal owners, the Lerner family, spent tens of millions of dollars more on "jazzing up the park". The park has an out-of-town scoreboard, which is 102 feet (31 m) long, installed in the right field wall. The main scoreboard, at 101 feet (31 m) long and 47 feet (14 m) high, is more than five times the size of the one at RFK Stadium.[42]

Aerial view of Nationals Park. The Nationals' previous stadium, RFK Stadium, is barely visible near the top of the picture.

On March 13, 2007, Kasten announced that there would be a grove of cherry blossoms located just beyond the left field bleachers. Kasten stated that the cherry blossoms will provide a look that Americans associate with the nation's capital.

Other distinctive features of the ballpark are the views of the U.S. Capitol from the upper deck. Fans in the upper deck sitting down the right field line near the foul pole, during all day games, fans can get a glimpse of the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral. Several area-based food establishments have concession stands: Ben's Chili Bowl hot dogs, Hard Times chili, Dogfish Head and Flying Dog Brewery beer.

Another feature, The Red Porch, is a full service sit-down restaurant located in center field. It offers some amenities unusual in a ballpark such as salads, along with regular ballpark fare such as burgers and hot dogs. When the stadium first opened in 2008, the restaurant was enclosed by glass windows with a view of the field which were soon made retractable. The restaurant was eventually expanded to outside the interior, with tables being placed in three rows outside.

In 2010, the stadium added the Ring of Honor, celebrating players from the Washington Senators (Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Goose Goslin, Clark Griffith, Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Harmon Killebrew, Heinie Manush, Sam Rice, and Early Wynn), Negro League Homestead Grays (Cool Papa Bell, Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cumberland Posey, and Jud Wilson), and the Nationals franchise's previous incarnation, the Montreal Expos (Gary Carter and Andre Dawson) who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Since 2011, a submarine dive horn has blared after every Nationals home run and win—a nod to the park's location in Navy Yard.

The ballpark features a make-your-own-mascot store for the Nationals' mascot, "Screech".

Panoramic image of Nationals Park during a home game against the San Francisco Giants, May 2, 2011.


Screech, the Washington Nationals mascot before his 2009 "growth spurt".
Some fans in the upper level can see the Capitol.

Seating in Nationals Park is divided into over a dozen different pricing zones. There are four seating levels: the field level, mezzanine level, gallery level, and upper gallery level.

The Grandstand is composed of sections 401 and 402, in the corner of the upper deck in left field, in which seats are $5 for all games. Tickets go on sale 2½ hours before the first pitch on the day of the game and cannot be ordered in advance.

The stadium features three levels of upscale luxury seating. The largest of the three, the Norfolk Southern Club, is a two-story indoor lounge exclusively for fans with tickets in sections 206-221. The lounge is 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2) and features various food entities, live television broadcasts of the game on dozens of TVs, and views of the Anacostia River. It was previously named the Stars and Stripes Club until the naming rights were purchased by Norfolk Southern Railway in 2014.[43] The PNC Diamond Club, the naming rights of which were purchased by PNC Bank,[44] is on the field level between the two dugouts. It was remodeled and expanded into two floors prior to the 2016 season.[45] The Delta Sky360 Club seats are located right behind home plate and are the most expensive seats in the stadium and include access to an indoor lounge. It was previously named the Lexus Presidents Club until Delta Airlines purchased the naming rights in 2016.[45]

As features were changed, added, or removed, seating capacity has changed repeatedly since the stadium opened; the number of seats has dropped slightly several times since it opened in 2008. In the inaugural 2008 season, seating capacity was 41,888;[46] as of 2016, the seating capacity is 41,313.[1]

Non-baseball events

Nationals Park has hosted a number of non-baseball events, such as concerts and business meetings. Performers who have held concerts at Nationals Park include Billy Joel,[47] Taylor Swift,[48] and Paul McCartney,[49] among others.

On April 17, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at Nationals Park for 47,000 people during his visit to the United States. There were 200,000 requests submitted for tickets to the Mass.[50]


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  18. Naming Rights
  19. Ladson, Bill (April 6, 2015). "Nationals awarded 2018 All-Star Game". Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  20. Kovaleski, Serge F.; Heath, Thomas (22 September 2004). "DC Offers Waterfront Baseball Stadium". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  21. "Major League Stadium". Build It Bigger. Season 1. Episode 14. October 17, 2007. Discovery Channel.
  22. Phillips, Michael (March 22, 2008). "GW, St. Joseph's Honored to Open Field". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved March 22, 2008.
  23. Phillips, Michael (March 29, 2008). "Nationals Victorious in Stadium Debut". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  24. Associated Press (March 30, 2008). "Nats' Zimmerman Plays Hero With Game-Winning Shot in Opener". ESPN. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
  25. More on Zim. The Washington Times. April 2, 2008.
  26. Svrluga, Barry (April 2, 2008). "Nationals Park Debut Sets ESPN Record". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  27. 2008 Washington Nationals Statistics and Roster
  28. 2008 Major League Baseball Attendance
  29. Mathis, Sommer (April 9, 2004). "Click Click: New Artwork at Nationals Park". Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  30. Salisbury, Jim (April 13, 2009). "Phils Announcer Harry Kalas Dies". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
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  32. Haft, Chris (June 4, 2009). "Big Unit Gets 300th Win on First Try". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
  33. Ladson, Bill (July 4, 2009). "Dunn Belts 300th Career Homer". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
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  40. Washington Nationals Attendance, Stadiums, and Park Factors
  41. Washington Nationals -
  42. LeDuc, Daniel (March 4, 2008). "Giving You the Score, Plus a Whole Lot More". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  43. What’s new at Nationals Park for 2014 MASN
  44. Muret, Don (November 26, 2007). "PNC Bank Buys Naming Rights for Nationals Seats". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved November 27, 2007.
  45. 1 2 Checking out what’s new at Nationals Park in 2016
  46. LeDuc, Daniel; Duggan, Paul (March 28, 2008). "Built at the Speed of a Fastball, Stadium Is Ready for Nationals". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  47. Billy Joel returning to Nationals Park for July stadium concert WTOP
  48. It's Tay days at Nationals Park, as Taylor Swift takes over
  49. CONCERT REVIEW: Paul McCartney at Nationals Park Washington Times
  50. Elsibai, Nadine (April 17, 2008). "Pope Benedict Says Mass Before 47,000 in New Washington Stadium". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved April 17, 2008.

External links

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Events and tenants
Preceded by
RFK Stadium
Home of the
Washington Nationals 

2008 present
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RFK Stadium
Home of the
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Michigan Stadium
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