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* 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.

* City Paper points us to a new blog by the WashTimes tracking all the news surrounding the Pope's April visit to the United States. Including, of course, the April 17 mass at Nationals Park. There's also the news that a 14-foot-tall crucifix from St. Mark's Church in Hyattsville has been selected to be displayed at the stadium mass.
* Nats320 continues with its series of, um, lengthy interviews, this time with the man whose company is going to be "dressing" the ballpark.
* I'm not sure why some news organizations are only now reporting this (since it was announced last week), but in case you missed it, single-game tickets for Nats games go on sale March 4.
* On Feb. 28, there's a gathering planned for people to share stories of the gay businesses along O Street SE that were shut down to make way for the ballpark.
* Check the stadium web cam's images from last night to see the ballpark's lights all turned on.

* Today's Washington Business Journal print edition (subscribers only) is reporting that the Nationals are finalizing a deal that would make Capitol City Brewing the "official local beer and the exclusive brew provider at the new stadium's beer garden." WBJ quotes Cap City's president as saying that the company is also negotiating for additional distribution points inside the stadium.
* From the Post, word that Benedict XVI will now be hauling out the Popemobile for two trips through the streets of Washington, adding public appearances that weren't originally part of the plan for his April 15-18 visit so that people who won't be able to get into the April 17 mass at the ballpark might still have a chance to see him. The routes haven't been finalized. Also, the Post says that information on tickets for the Mass is expected to be released this month.
* National Public Radio, which has been looking at locations in Near Southeast as well as NoMa and Silver Spring to consolidate its offices in 400,000 square feet of space, says it will make its decision by the end of May, according to the Montgomery Gazette, in an article that says Montgomery County has made a formal offer to lure NPR to Silver Spring. It's been rumored that NPR is the "preferred option" for DC officials to take over the city's lease at 225 Virginia Avenue (the old Post Plant).

The Washington Times's Tim Lemke reports on his blog: "The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission has arranged for the city's high school baseball title games to be played at the Nationals new ballpark on May 31. The day will feature three games, plus an all-star game." So, that now makes two non-Nationals events scheduled for the new stadium (along with some Pope guy on April 17).

Your morning reading:
* Another worker has been fired at the ballpark for allegedly making "insensitive racial remarks," according to the Examiner and the Post (can't find this one online, though it was in the print edition). The Examiner says it's "the fifth dismissal of an employee at the stadium site over racially charged incidents in less than two weeks. D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission spokeswoman Chinyere Hubbard says a white carpenter made the remarks to two black electricians. She didn't specify what language prompted the action. The carpenter was employed by Mahogany Interiors, a minority subcontractor."
* Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer is concerned enough about the impact of the ballpark on the commutes of his constituents that he met with officials from the Nationals, DDOT, and Metro, and then sent out a press release about it: " 'With weekday evening games that begin at the tail end of peak commuter periods, it is critical that we explore all available options to streamline the flow of traffic and minimize congestion,' stated Rep. Hoyer. 'As opening day approaches, I intend to continue working with officials to mitigate the impact on motorists in our region.' "
* Hundreds are expected to compete this weekend to snag spots in the choir that will sing for Pope Benedict at the ballpark on April 17. About 550 people are signed up to fight for 250 slots.

This morning's tidbits:
* It doesn't say anything about smoke machines or laser light shows, but this press release announces that "Showcall, Inc., an event production company based in Maryland, was selected by the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. to produce Pope Benedict XVI's public Mass at the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium on April 17, 2008." As for what that means: "Showcall, Inc. will provide stage and set design and layout, audio visual production, and overall show direction of the public Mass. Showcall will utilize its unique skill set in producing high-profile, high-threat level events and will coordinate with the Washington Nationals to host the first major event in its new baseball stadium. Showcall will work closely with GEP Washington, the overall DMC firm for the visit."
* Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development is having its hearing on the ballpark's "noose incident" today at 1 pm. I don't see it on the Channel 13 lineup, but perhaps it'll get shown live or will be broadcast later on.
* Today's two hearings on parking issues in front of the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment are at 5 pm and 6 pm. My "real life" is on overload for the next few weeks thanks to Super-Duper Tuesday and the metro-area primaries, so I can't make these hearings in person, but I will watch the coverage later this evening and sum up.
* There's also now a joint hearing between the Public Works committee and Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development on the Ballpark Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 pm. There should be explanations at this hearing as to how all aspects of getting to and from the ballpark are going to be handled (at first, at least). I believe that this information will be released to the public well before Feb. 28, though I don't know exactly when.

A few small items:
* There's been a competition to design the altar for the Pope's April 17 mass at Nationals Park, says The Post: the winning entry "uses a pattern of overlapping arches that is repeated on all the pieces, including the altar's base. [...] The chair has a very tall back with the papal coat of arms. The front of the pulpit, from where the pope will read, features images from the Bible."
* Howard University's student newspaper, The Hilltop, writes about Saturday's Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair: "The [Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Framework Plan], which calls for 6,500 units of new housing, 3 million square feet of new office space, 32 acres of new public park space and a 20-mile network of riverside trails, appeals to residents of wards 6, 7 and 8 who share a common interest in improving the area. 'I was surprised to find out that so much construction has already taken place,' said Anne Holdbrook, a resident of Anacostia. 'I hope that they continue the re-development because there are so many abandoned buildings that are around that make the place look very unattractive[.]' " (See my summary of the fair, too.)
* The DC crime reports data feed is back on line. However, apparently they've re-run all the data from 2006 and 2007, and feed consumers like myself are supposed to ditch the data previously downloaded and replace it with the new versions. With the files being H-U-G-E, though, it's going to take some time for me to do this. (UPDATE: Ahem. Guess that didn't take as long as I thought. This crime data archive is now updated.)

Tuesday's Post has the first details emerging about Pope Benedict XVI's April 17 mass at Nationals Park: "At first, the decision was made to put the altar at second base, which is where Yankees Stadium places the altar for papal Masses." But "organizers realized that they could fit in 4,000 more seats -- for a total of 45,000 -- if they placed the altar at centerfield." If you're going, plan to get up early: "The doors will open about 6:30 a.m. for pre-Mass activities, including music and videos." As for tickets? "Plans for distributing tickers have not been completed. But, in the past, tickets to major Catholic events have been distributed through parishes and Catholic organizations." Who gets to go? "The archdiocese has been asked whether non-Catholics can attend (yes) and whether the Mass is part of the Nationals baseball ticket package (no). The archdiocese is trying to keep the free tickets from popping up on e-Bay and falling into the hands of scalpers."

The Catholic News Service indicates that lots of people are trying to get tickets to the Pope's April 2008 appearances at both Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium: "To answer the question that is increasingly being asked of officials with the archdioceses of Washington and New York--and pretty much anyone else who works for the Catholic Church in the region -- you can't yet get tickets to any events during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to those cities in April. The two archdioceses don't expect to have information about how to get tickets for the few public events of the April 15-20 visit until after the first of the year. And what tickets are available will likely be distributed according to formulas that will give priority to people from Washington and New York and neighboring dioceses." The full itinerary is available here.

Nov 14, 2007 9:02 AM
While still recovering from yesterday's media-event-propelled onslaught, I have enough energy to point you to today's Examiner story that provides more detail on how it came to pass that the Pope will be appearing at Nationals Park. (The archbishop called the Lerners.) This is actually a Nationals event, not one of the city's eight yearly allowed uses of the stadium.

Nov 12, 2007 11:33 AM
I reported on this rumor a few weeks ago, and apparently it's true, according to the Post: "Pope Benedict XVI will visit Washington and New York in April, the first papal visit to the United States since 1999 and the current pope's eighth foreign journey since becoming head of the Catholic Church in April, 2005. [...] The pope will arrive on April 15, and visit the White House the next day, according to the schedule released by the Vatican. On April 17 he will celebrate Mass at the new Nationals baseball stadium and meet later that day at Catholic University with leaders of Catholic colleges and universities from throughout the country." On April 20 he'll be at Yankee Stadium, I guess to make sure that both the American League and National League are covered. Here's the press release from the Catholic News Service on the announcement.

Oct 28, 2007 1:04 PM
(I have no way of verifying the authenticity or the reputation of this story, as it's just being reported on one blog, but it's too juicy to ignore. All disclaimers apply. h/t Ballpark Guys)
The Pope is apparently planning a trip to the U.S. in mid-April, with visits scheduled for New York and Washington, and the "Whispers in the Loggia" blog reports: "While most of the previously-noted itinerary of the Catholic University of America and diplomatic courtesies at the White House appear to remain in place, one reported change has the venue for Benedict's DC Mass pegged not for the expanse of the National Mall, but -- as with New York -- the new stadium of the Washington Nationals, currently projected to open barely a week before the visit takes place. (On a related note, Major League Baseball's scheduling for 2008 is still in its tentative stages and has not been publicly released.) Built to house a game capacity of 41,000, Nationals Park would likely seat closer to 50,000 for a papal liturgy."
Even the author--who writes for a international Catholic weekly--adds a bunch of a caveats to the news: "[P]apal trips are not formally announced by the Vatican until three months prior to a visit's taking place, and the detailed final itineraries are held until weeks before the journey. Bottom line: everything can, and very well might, change. But this is where things are heading as of the present... even if 'Nothing is confirmed until the Holy Father signs off on it.' "
(See this September item from the Catholic News Agency for early news of the papal visit, saying that Mass would be held on the Mall.)

Sep 12, 2007 4:21 PM
On September 29, the WalkingTown DC Fall Edition, presented by Cultural Tourism DC, will offer 45 free walking tours in neighborhoods all across the city, and one of them is in Near Southeast. (Pardon me, "Capitol Riverfront." Bah.) Here's the description: "Between the Anacostia River and the US Capitol Building, alongside construction of the Nationals' ballpark, a new cityscape is emerging based on a unique nautical history: the Capitol Riverfront. Explore the industrial buildings of the Yards where the Navy once produced ships' instruments and ammunition. Move on to the Washington Canal and the new environmentally sustainable Canal Park, then visit the historic Pump Station that previously supplied power to the Capitol. End the tour with a boat ride along the river." It will be led by Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. The tour starts at 10:30 am at the Navy Yard Metro station entrance at New Jersey and M. There's also tours of Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, Barracks Row, Capitol Hill, etc. etc.; the list of tours is on the WalkingTown DC web site, and here's a press release with additional information.
More posts: Capitol Riverfront BID, Events

Apr 2, 2007 1:34 PM
Two upcoming events from the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation that might be of interest: On Earth Day, April 21, the AWC is running an Anacostia River Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration, with Canal Park being of the four cleanup sites (along with the Southwest Waterfront, Marvin Gaye Park, and Kenilworth Parkand Poplar Point). See their announcement for details, and also check out the Anacostia Watershed Society's Earth Day cleanup plans for the Anacostia. The next day, April 22, as part of Cultural Tourism DC's Walkingtown Tours, the AWC is sponsoring four different routes, none of which are actually in Near Southeast but which still might be of interest (the eastern riverfront and Poplar Point, Kingman and Heritage Islands, Hill East, and Marvin Gaye Park). The announcement has times and locations and whatnot.
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