Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - February 2008
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Breaking: Monument Realty Wins Preliminary Injunction on Southeastern Bus Garage Sale
Feb 29, 2008 4:58 PM
I've been passed the news that a judge has granted Monument Realty's request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting WMATA from taking "any further action to dispose of" the Southeastern Bus Garage. The two sides are to file recommendations on further proceedings by Wednesday at noon, and the injunction stays in effect until the court orders otherwise. Monument filed suit in October, asking that the planned sale be invalidated.
(Adding that this shouldn't, as best I can tell, delay the removal of the buses from the garage by Opening Day, since just yesterday the WMATA board approved a plan to fund the relocation of the buses with monies from other accounts and from the District, and not from any proceeds of the expected sale of the garage site.)
UPDATE: I now have a PDF of the ruling, which gives a lot of background on how the bidding process for the garage site was handled by WMATA. My background in law is slim to none, so I'm wanting to be very cautious about how I characterize all this (I'm sure there will be plenty of media coverage coming soon), but the ruling does state that Monument has "demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that they were substantially prejudiced when WMATA considered Akridge's nonresponsive bid and participated in improper ex parte discussions with Akridge."
UPDATE II: Here's a short Post piece on the ruling.

Fireworks Testing Now?
Feb 29, 2008 3:27 PM
Anyone hearing any booms? A source on Capitol Hill is reporting much noise coming from the south, so perhaps the fireworks testing that's been promised lately is actually happening....
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Ballpark Traffic Management Details
Feb 29, 2008 2:28 PM
I'm still working my way through the tape of last night's council roundtable on ballpark traffic and management issues. But I think fans and neighbors alike will be interested in the PowerPoint slides shown by DDOT director Emeka Moneme. There's a lot of detail on traffic flow and restrictions, most of which exists in the huge TOPP but which are more easily understood in these new graphics.
Look at the slides if you want to know: how DDOT will be attempting to address potential traffic bottlenecks in congested spots before and after games; where traffic control officers will be stationed, where left turns will be prohibited, what streets will be closed, where drop-off/pick-up locations will be (South Capitol Street), where the post-game taxi stand will be (Half Street north of M), where charter buses will be parked during games (Buzzards Point), where variable messaging signs will be posted around the region, how traffic signals will be retimed before and after games, how traffic will be routed to and from the parking lots before and after games, and where the signed bike paths are to and from the ballpark (bike racks will be available at the two parking garages just north of the stadium, and there will be the bike valet, too). (New on-street parking restrictions are in there, too, and are explained more fully on my Stadium Parking page.)
You'll also see in the slides that DDOT is expecting 52 percent of stadium-goers to arrive via Metro, though Moneme in his testimony said that Metro thinks that number could be closer to 60 percent.
DPW director Bill Howland said that there will be 12 parking enforcement officers and 12 tow trucks working to enforce the on-street parking restrictions in the area.
Other items from the hearing include:
* The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Nationals now have "an agreement in principle" to let fans park for free at RFK, and the city will be reimbursed through a somewhat complicated give-and-take. There will be 55 motorcoach-style buses.
* As mentioned elsewhere recently, season ticket holder parking has been awarded to all who applied for it without using up all 4,700 spaces in the lots near the ballpark. The Nationals say they are looking at whether to offer some parking in those lots to non-season-ticket holders, but are concerned about how that might contribute to congestion, and so are still determining their strategy.
More as I get through the rest of the hearing. But seriously, look at the PowerPoint slides. There's a lot of good traffic flow information there.
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Official Announcement of March 22 GW Game
Feb 29, 2008 1:55 PM
From the Nationals, official word that the first baseball game at Nationals Park will indeed be the March 22 game between George Washington University and Saint Joseph's University, at 1:05 pm. As for the question that everyone's really asking: "The game will be privately ticketed and is not open to the public. A limited number of general admission tickets will be made available to the GW community after March 10. A valid GWorld identification will be required. Details will be released separately."
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Morning Roundup: Pope Tix Day, Metro Items
Feb 29, 2008 8:54 AM
* Today's the day that the Archdiocese of Washington is announcing the distribution of tickets for the April 17 Mass by Pope Benedict at Nationals Park to churches in the District and suburban Maryland. The Post reports on the pleas that church officials are receiving from parishioners desperate to get one of the hottest tickets in town. A spokeswoman says they've received nearly twice as many requests as there are tickets. There are even raffles where the winner gets a ticket to the Mass.
* Metro has decided to create a one-day "Pope Pass" for $9 for the estimated 25,000 Pope-goers who will be arriving at the ballpark on the subway. (Normally one-day subway passes can only be purchased after 9:30 am, but because of security concerns, those going to the Mass are going to be arriving much earlier than the 10 am start time.)
* Metro's board gave final approval to expanding the hours of the N22 bus route that runs between Union Station, Eastern Market, and the east entrance of the Navy Yard station at New Jersey and M. It will now run on evenings and weekends to help shuttle stadium-goers between those locations. And the board also gave final approval of some money-shuffling that will allow the closure of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. More on both of these items can be found in these two entries.
* And, in one final Metro item, the Post reports that council member Jim Graham says "he has been contacted by Washington Nationals representatives who wanted to know if the name of the Navy Yard Station could be changed to reflect the name of the corporation that buys the larger naming rights of the stadium." Answer? No way. Uh-uh. Nope. Forget it.

New Photos, from Up High and from Across the River
Feb 28, 2008 1:01 PM
Let's take a breather from all this parking stuff (which I had my fill of about two years ago) and get back to the original JDLand modus operandi--posting lots of photos of the neighborhood. Yesterday's press conference on the-subject-I-just-said-I-wasn't-going-to-talk-about was held on the 10th floor of 20 M Street, giving me a chance to update my photos from that perch, with views of 70/100 I, Velocity (now working on floor #2), the 1015 Half Street site (where nothing seems to be happening just yet), 55 M, and the ballpark. You can see all photos I've taken from atop 20 M in the past 10 months, or just compare the oldest and newest ones (there's been a few changes!).
Switching to the opposite side of the neighborhood, I took a few shots from Poplar Point on Sunday of the ballpark and The Yards.
You can also see all the new photos (along with the ones taken inside the ballpark looking out at the surrounding neighborhood) on a single page.
I hope to get out this weekend and update the ground-level photos of all the latest happenings.

Roundtable on Traffic Operations and Parking Tonight
Feb 28, 2008 10:22 AM
Passing along a reminder, via my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post: "A roundtable by two D.C. Council committees on the city's plans for traffic and parking at Nationals Park begins at 6 tonight in Room 120 of the Wilson Building. Considering that the last hearing on stadium-related parking issues lasted until almost midnight, you might prefer to watch tonight's session in the comfort of your home, where you'll have access to your kitchen cabinets and coffee maker. The roundtable can be seen on Channel 13 on D.C. cable systems or on the Web."
I won't be able to watch it live, but hopefully I can post a summary of it before too long, unless the current focus on the stadium by the local media takes care of it for me. If so, my feelings wouldn't be hurt. Really. It's all yours.
I should mention here that what's long been known as the Draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) is now apparently the final version of how traffic is going to be handled, at least until they see how it works on Opening Day and then start tweaking it (which DDOT and other agencies fully expect to be the case). So if you want to know the nitty-gritty of traffic and pedestrian flow, the TOPP is the place to look. And I imagine the residents testifying at tonight's roundtable might have an issue or two with it.
Other items in today's column were the latest tidbits on Diamond Teague Park, a reminder of the meetings next week on the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and photos of the new freeway and bike route signage pointing to the ballpark. And just a note that the column will be taking the next two weeks off, and will be back on March 20--if there's anything left for me to write about that isn't already covered in this All Things Ballpark media blitz.

Your Morning Ballpark Roundup
Feb 28, 2008 8:23 AM
* Washington City Paper's cover story this week is "Inside Baseball", a series of vignettes about "winners and losers" around the ballpark. It highlights neighbors such as the Market Deli at First and L and Positive Force around the corner on New Jersey Avenue (and former neighbors such as Ken Wyban, owner of the house at Van and N that was demolished), and talks about the "lost" views of the Capitol from many sections within the stadium. Plus there's quotes from a couple of residents of the nearby housing projects in Southwest that they've "been told" they're going to be moved out, despite vehement denials by the Housing Authority.
* A three-person arbitration board ruled unanimously that the Nationals and not the District should pay for "ancillary items at the new stadium, such as golf carts, fork lifts, and medical and office equipment," saving the city $4.2 million and keeping expenditures within the $611 million cost cap, according to WTOP.
* Links to the avalanche of stories about the new on-street parking plan around the ballpark are at the end of my entry about it from yesterday. Perhaps the saturation coverage--and the advertising campaign by the team scheduled to start next week--will indeed drill into the noggins of the public what's been said for months now: that really, truly, you're not going to find on-street parking, and traffic's going to be crazy anyway. So just take Metro. (And read this Dr. Gridlock blog entry and its comments to get a sense of the wide-ranging views of the public on using Metro. And have fun with the writer who discussed the "questionable neighborhood" the N22 bus goes through--you know, Capitol Hill.)
* And, what if nearby residents start scalping their visitors passes?
* But can we also drill into the collective conscience that there's not "only 1,200 parking spaces" at the ballpark? Yes, the ballpark footprint itself has only 1,200 spaces, but the team has contracted with close-by lots to cobble together more than 4,000 spaces. As we found out in the Post, those didn't even all get taken by season-ticket holders and in fact may now allow for a small number of spaces to be made available on gamedays to non-season ticket holders.

Opening Day On-Street Parking Rules Released
Feb 27, 2008 1:54 PM
This afternoon the city is releasing the on-street parking plan for the streets in Southeast and Southwest near the ballpark, and here it is. There's a press conference in the mayor and other officials at 3 pm, so more will be revealed, but on my Stadium Parking and Transporation page you can now see which streets are considered "residential" with enhanced protections and which ones will have the new variable-rate meters.
* On the residential streets (marked in purple on the map), parking restrictions will be in effect from 7 am to midnight seven days a week. One side of the street will be for residents with Zone 6 parking permits only, and non-Zone 6 cars can be ticketed immediately. On the other side of the street, non-Zone 6 cars can park for two hours.
* On "retail" streets (marked in red), multispace meters will be installed that will have varying costs to park based on the time of day, and the price will escalate as the amount of time you park grows, in order to make it a better deal to park in an off-street lot for a long period of time rather than using up a metered space.
* There will be visitor passes mailed out (one per household).
Read the text beneath the map for more explanations of these different zones.
What the meters will charge, and what the fines will be for violating any of these parking restrictions, were not spelled out with the map. Perhaps that is coming at the press conference. I'll be back to update with additional news as I get it.
If you live in Southwest, or on Capitol Hill, or in Near Southeast, pass this page to your neighbors. If you're a Nats fan thinking about scavenging for on-street parking, look at this map to understand that you won't be getting it on any of the colored streets without risking a ticket (or maybe even getting towed). So click on the Take Metro! tab to get information on your transit options (including distances to stations other than Navy Yard, bus routes, and additional information).
UPDATE: Nope, no specifics from the press conference on meter rates or fines if you overstay; that will all come after the council (presumably) passes on March 4 the legislation that gives the mayor the authority to set rates. Also, there's a slightly updated map on my on-street parking page--dotted-purple streets have been added, which will get the same protection as solid purple streets, but not by Opening Day. And here's Tommy Wells's press release on the plan. There was a fair amount of media at the announcement, so I'll link to their reports as they come in.
UPDATE II: Here's News4's report (and video). It addresses the safety issue as well: "Officials said there will be a heavy police presence in the area on game days to ensure traffic and pedestrian safety."
UPDATE III: The Post writes on the curbside parking plan, and also mentions that the Nationals say "all season ticket holders who wanted parking spaces have gotten them or are in the process of getting them. The team is trying to determine how many spaces might be available to fans without season tickets." And, after ignoring the Take Metro mantra, Marc Fisher finally figures out that, gee, maybe driving to the ballpark isn't such a good idea. Apparently the Nationals' media push urging fans to use transit will begin next week, and they now have a Way to Go web site.
UPDATE IV: Wrapping up, here's the Examiner and WashTimes articles. And the mayor's press release.
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Monument: Half Street Construction Not 'Stopped'
Feb 27, 2008 11:36 AM
After reading this in Tom Boswell's column today--"On the other side of Half Street is a huge block-long hole, several stories deep, where construction by Monument Realty has stopped"--I contacted Monument to find out if this is indeed the case.
(For those just joining us, a little background: Monument owns the entire east side of Half Street between M and N, just to the north of the ballpark, and is currently building the 55 M Street office building on the north end of the site, on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, which was expanded as part of the office construction. The south end of the block is slated to be a 200-room hotel and a 340-unit residential building, and is current a half-block-long excavated hole.)
Monument executive vice president Russell Hines has told me that construction drawings for the the hotel and residential part of Half Street are being finalized, and construction will begin in late spring or early summer, with completion in late 2009 or early 2010. The entire block was excavated early in 2007 because it made economic sense to do it all at once, but that because of the need to complete the subway station improvements by Opening Day, the 55 M construction was "accelerated" and the hotel/residential part of the project is just now "catching up." In fact, Hines says, work on the office building is continuing, with the building "topping out" in the next week or so. (You can check the web cam for up-to-the-quarterhour progress.)
Hines also wanted to make clear that what Boswell called a "legal battle between two developers" over the Southeastern Bus Garage site is in fact litigation between Monument and WMATA, not Monument and Akridge.

Domino's Raze Permit; Onyx Not-Sales Center Gone
Feb 27, 2008 9:08 AM
It's not exactly a stunner, but it's still worth mentioning that a raze permit application has been filed for 1200 South Capitol Street, which is the now-boarded-up Domino's on the corner of South Capitol and M. When the store closed a few weeks ago, Monument Realty told me that negotiations were underway with the Nationals to use the site for a parking lot; I've heard nothing further on that.
And maybe now's a good time to mention that the sales-office-that-never-was for Onyx--the construction trailers deposited last spring just south of Normandie Liquors at First and M but never opened--was demolished within the past week. I had to make a value judgment, but I decided since the office never actually opened it doesn't get the honor of being added to my Demolished Buildings Gallery.

Boswell Looks at Everything Wrong By the Ballpark
Feb 26, 2008 11:15 PM
Wednesday's Post has a column by Tom Boswell ("Nationals Park: Best of a Bad Lot") listing the myriad problems he sees with the ballpark and its surroundings, with Opening Day now just a month away. The Navy Yard subway station. The parking situation. The Florida Rock site ("an enormous and inexcusable 5.8-acre eyesore" that will be "sitting there all season, damaging the river views from all the ramps to the first base upper deck"). (He does mention that fences to obscure the view at ground level will be going up, which I posted about a few days ago.) The WASA site (which "would be the Most Unsightly Thing Near Any Big League Park if Florida Rock and Gravel hadn't already retired the trophy.") The Monument Half Street site, where he says "construction has stopped." The fact that city views are only available in the cheap seats.
But he ends with a stab at optimism: "Someday, the Anacostia riverfront will amaze us, just maybe not as soon as we hoped. When it comes to fulfilling huge civic dreams, what's a few years, more or less. In for a dime, in for a decade. "
On the other hand, the article confirms that the garages, which have long been a focal point of much complaining, will indeed be covered, as has long been shown in the renderings, with "league logos, replicas of the 'Washington All-Stars' from the right field scoreboard in RFK as well as colorful baseball-themed ads."

Ballpark Fireworks Testing Tonight
Feb 26, 2008 10:36 AM
This just in from the Metropolitan Police Department (on the MPD-1D mailng list): "Between 6pm - 7pm tonight, as part of their pre-game checks, the Nationals will be setting off fireworks at the new stadium. DCFD, the Fire Marshall and MPD will be on the scene."
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Roundup: Pope Tix, Bus Garage, Cancellations
Feb 26, 2008 8:38 AM
* The Post says that 14,000 tickets to the April 17 Mass at Nationals Park will be distributed to 120 Catholic diocese outside of the Archdiocese of Washington, with the Diocese of Arlington getting 6,000 and the Archdiocese of Baltimore getting 2,500. And on Friday, parishes that are part of the Archdiocese of Washington will find out how many tickets they're getting--parish priests will then decide how to distribute tickets within the parish.
* The Examiner has a story about the Southeastern Bus Garage site and that the Nationals and Metro are in talks to provide 350 gameday parking spaces at the garage (plus three nearby WMATA-owned parking lots, though that's not specified in the article). The only real news in the article is that a judge is expected to rule this week on Monument Realty's lawsuit over the sale of the garage site to Akridge. For more background, read all my posts on the bus garage saga.
* Yesterday's scheduled council hearing on Monument's request to close the alley on Square 700 just north of the closed BP Amoco station was cancelled. No new session has been posted on the calendar.
* And the agenda for Thursday's WMATA Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee does not include anything on the joint development of the chiller plant site at Half and L, as had been anticipated back in January. Maybe next month?
* If you think you're excited about the local food vendors at the ballpark announced yesterday, you should read Marc Fisher.
* UPDATE: I've gotten word that the long article in the March Washingtonian on the ballpark is now online. The other related article, about residential developments planned around the stadium, won't be posted for a couple of weeks. So you'll just have to go buy it, I guess. And perhaps you too can then be like the poor soul at Safeway on Sunday reading that article, who got accosted by a pesky blogger in line in front of him pointing to a name on the page, saying, "That's me." Thankfully he didn't call security.

March 22 GW Game at Ballpark Confirmed
Feb 25, 2008 4:59 PM
The Post is confirming this afternoon the rumors I mentioned over the weekend: "The George Washington University baseball team will inaugurate the playing field [at Nationals Park] in a game against St. Joseph's University on March 22, GW officials and Nationals executives will announce as early as tomorrow." But it would be a bit of a dry run: "Attendance at the college game, which would be in the afternoon, would not be open to the general public and would instead be limited to GW and St. Joseph's fans, said sources familiar with the plans[.]"
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More Local Foods for the Ballpark
Feb 25, 2008 1:14 PM
In a press release just sent out by the Nationals, the team announced partnerships with 10 local food vendors for the ballpark. They are: Ben's Chili Bowl, Boardwalk Fries, Southwest's own Cantina Marina, Kosher Sports, Krazee Ice, Hard Times Cafe, La Piccola Gelateria, Mayorga Coffee, Noah's Pretzels, and Red Hot & Blue. (A partnership with Gifford's Ice Cream was announced a few weeks ago.) Read the release for details on the offerings of each vendor.
And, speaking of partnerships, WBJ is reporting that JK Moving & Storage has signed a deal to be the team's official moving company.
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Washingtonian Articles, Signs, and More
Feb 25, 2008 9:36 AM
The Southwest Freeway now says there's a ballpark in our midst, so it must be true! (And of course the Bike Route signs started telling us this last week.)
Other news of the morning:
* The March issue of Washingtonian (not yet available online, but now on newsstands) has two articles of possible interest. One is an overview of the ballpark itself. The other is called "Ballpark Living: Can the Nationals Stadium Do For an Up-and-Coming Waterfront Neighborhood What the Verizon Center did for Downtown DC?", in which yours truly gets a mention. It's mainly an overview of the neighborhood's offerings now and down the road, most of which should be no surprise to anyone visiting here on a regular basis. UPDATE, 2/26: The article on the ballpark is now available online, though the other one isn't there yet.
* Speaking of magazines with special ballpark offerings, I mentioned On Site magazine last week--I'm told it's available this week (bundled with the current issue of the Washington Business Journal) at CVS, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.
* In both of these magazines, there's an updated rendering of the Monument's 340-unit residential building slated to be finished by the end of 2009 on the northeast corner of Half and N, just across from the ballpark's Center Field Gate. Monument was kind enough to pass it along, and I've added it to my Monument Half Street page (scroll down past the 55 M stuff).
And, be sure to catch my new photos from inside the ballpark (both inside and INSIDE) if you haven't seen them.

Photos of The Innards of the Ballpark (and More)
Feb 24, 2008 5:17 PM
Yesterday I posted what I've always called the "interior" photos of the ballpark, showing the field and the seating areas. But of course, there's now much more to see than just bleachers and cupholders, with the many concession and operations areas inside the structure itself now nearing completion. So here's a gallery of the Interior of the Interior (ahem), including the locker room (seen above), the Presidents and Diamond clubs, the club lounge, and various other spots.
But that's not all. I took the opportunity to add some additional links to the "Interior Views" tab on my ballpark page:
* Views of the Neighborhood - I think one of the biggest surprises for fans making their first visits to Nationals Park will be the wide-ranging views of the city skyline at the ballpark, from the view at everyone's seats of the changing skyline of Near Southeast to gazing up and down the banks of the Anacostia River to the wide vistas of Southwest and Northwest. (Of course, these views look their best when the sun is shining, which I was robbed of in the photos taken yesterday. Yes, I'm still whining.)
* Interior Construction, 2006-2007 - This is a tossed-together automated page that simply displays in chronological order the photos I've posted from inside the ballpark since my first trip inside the fences in October 2006, through the unveiling of the turf in November 2007. They say this will be the fastest construction of a major-league ballpark ever--these photos show just how quickly it went.
* Demolished Buildings - Lifted from my main Demolished Buildings gallery, this page shows what was on the site of the ballpark before the wrecking ball arrived in May 2006.
If you haven't yet seen the dreary overcast photos from yesterday of the field, seats, and concourses, you can check those out, too. And there's also the images of the ballpark's exterior, last updated two weeks ago. (When the sun was out.)
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Morning Ballpark Roundup
Feb 24, 2008 8:42 AM
It's probably best to steer clear of me today, because I'm going to be spending the entire day mumbling profanities as I look up at the gorgeous cloudless skies. But if you want to see what the ballpark would look like if it were transported to, say, Detroit in the dead of winter, be sure to look at my photos from inside the stadium taken yesterday morning. Later today I'll put up pictures from the interior of the building, where at least the weather didn't play quite so much of a role. In the meantime, here's some quick items on the ballpark:
* The Post has two articles today on Nationals Park--one looking at the resident hiring goals that were set versus the actual number of DC workers that have been hired, plus a much lighter look at yesterday's testing of the plumbing system, aka "Super Flush."
* A few people have written to ask me about news that has been mentioned either on the radio or in an MLB.com video that the first game at Nationals Park will actually be a March 22 game between George Washington University and St. Joseph's. GW's schedule shows the game as being played in Arlington, and I've seen no official word anywhere on this game, but the rumor is out there. Nationals owner Ted Lerner is a GW graduate and patron.
* I've also been asked lately about newer renderings of the stadium that no longer show the big baseball on top of the outfield restaurant (which is now called the "Red Porch Restaurant"). It is indeed no longer part of the ballpark plans. The cherry blossom trees will still be coming, though!
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New Ballpark Interior Photos (At Last) -- Pt. 1
Feb 23, 2008 6:42 PM
Sometimes you have to use your camera in the weather you have, not the weather you wish you had.
So, alas my first visit inside Nationals Park in more than three months came today, with heavy clouds and dampness in the air. Waaaaaaah! But at least these photos only have to last another five weeks or so.
I'm going to do this in two batches: tonight, enjoy a new lineup of photos of the ballpark's field and the seating areas. (I left a few from November sprinkled in, so that the pretty green turf and a smidgen of actual sunlight could be seen here or there.) There's also a slew of new very very large stitched-together panoramas from various vantage points, if you're wanting much closer views of the stadium's interior--there are links to them from the page above, or from the Stadium Panoramas page. They do take a long time to load, so be patient. (You can look at the exterior photos I posted two weeks ago if you can't bear the gray-itude of these shots and need sun and blue skies.)
Tomorrow I'll have for you a series of photos from the park's innards, including the restaurants and the locker room.
UPDATE: I forgot the best side-story of the day: Today was also "Super Flush", when the plumbing team brings in a bunch of people to flush the toilets at the same time to test the pipes. (And, not to be ungrateful, but perhaps my preference might have been that a big "Super Flush" banner not be running in HD on the scoreboard during all my photos.)
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