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* There's not a single story that I can find in the media this morning talking about how last night's predicted commuting catastrophe went, on the roads, at RFK, or on the Metro. The announced paid attendance at the ballpark was 23,340, up a few thousand from Monday night, and judging from the 55 M web cam the vast majority of people arriving by Metro made it before first pitch. (The 10-4 drubbing at the hands of the Marlins was a disaster of a different sort.) Anyone have any problems?
(Ah, just as I finished writing, here's Metro's report, saying that yesterday was its ninth highest weekday ridership day ever, though tourists and cherry blossom visitors were part of the mix, too.)
* My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's Post looks at how the dire predictions for Opening Night and Monday night didn't come to pass, and also the many different ways you readers reported getting to the ballpark on Opening Night (so, thanks for all those comments--made my job easy this week!).
* An Inquirer columnist disses concessionaire Aramark's performance at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, noting that the company, which had been in charge of concessions at RFK, didn't get the gig at Nationals Park. (He also tosses in a plug for Ben's half-smokes.)
* I'm going to add a list of available cash lots to my Stadium Parking page--I'd love some on-the-ground reports to make sure I'm getting them all (Splash, Chez Resnick at First and L, 80 M, South Capitol and Potomac, perhaps Positive Nature--anyone seen any others? If so, where, and for how much?).
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park
 

* NBC4 sets the vibe with "Traffic Nightmare Expected in DC Area This Evening", a short piece on the Wizards-United-Nats trifecta. They list the area around RFK as the possible flash point, though all of yesterday's Impending Doom stories pointed toward Metro and Gallery Place. Remember, if you're using the Nats Express, you have to park at RFK's Lot 7 tonight, not Lot 8. Dr. Gridlock has more on getting through the evening.
* WJLA gets into the mix with "Parking Woes Surround New Stadium," retelling a story they had on Tuesday about legally parked cars getting towed during Monday's ballgame. There's also a quote from a school bus driver lamenting not being able to park free on the street anymore, which I'm guessing won't be garnering much sympathy from the pro-Canal Park folks who want the buses out. And there's dueling quotes from Barracks Row shopowners, one who doesn't think it's fair and another who likes the turnover of spaces. There will be a public meeting next month to get first feedback on the new parking restrictions.
* For something a bit more uplifting, try Catholic News Service's "Turning a Stadium into a Cathedral for Pope's Mass in DC."
And, an observation:
* Conventional Wisdom leading up to Opening Day: "OMG! The stadium is going to be a disaster because there's going to be such huge traffic, transit and parking nightmares!"
* Conventional Wisdom after Monday's game: "OMG! The stadium is going to be a disaster because no one's going to go!" (Never mind that it was NCAA finals night/cold as hell/the Marlins/a school night/a game not in season ticket partial plans.)
Stan says the Nats will get the attendance they deserve. Ask the Capitals about that, when you're mulling whether to fork over a couple thousand dollars for a ticket to one of their playoff games.
 

(Moved to its own entry, to give the Pope Bobblehead stuff its own glory.) Here's Metro's press release detailing preparations for Wednesday's Triple Threat of the Wizards, DC United, and the Nats all in action at the same time. And, because you can never have enough press releases, here's one from the Nats (link to come) explaining that, when DC United is playing at RFK, Nats Express shuttle parking will be in Lot 7: "Washington Nationals fans choosing to park for free at RFK Stadium and take the Nats Express to Nationals Park may park in Lot 7 on all D.C. United home game dates. RFK Stadium Lot 8 will not be available to Nationals fans on Wednesday, April 9 or any future date in which the Nationals and D.C. United each play at home. Lot 7 may be accessed off the Whitney Young Bridge (East Capitol Street) or off of Oklahoma Avenue. The Nats Express begins ninety minutes prior to Nationals home games." WTOP asks about whether there will be any patrolling of DC United fans parking free in Lot 7 (apparently not).
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

(Decided to move this to its own entry.) As expected, it wasn't anywhere close to a full house at Nationals Park tonight. I wandered over to South Capitol Street at about 6:30 and traffic wasn't even backed all the way up the exit ramp from the freeway, and M Street was all but empty. The T and U lots at Capper didn't seem to get more than about 30 cars between the two of them, though the E, F, J, K, and L lots were pretty full. And I see that the garage at 80 M Street, which is not an official Nats lot, is offering cash parking for $20. (Looked like the Positive Nature folks on New Jersey Avenue are running a cash lot, too?) Lots of people coming out of the Navy Yard station at Half and M at 6:30ish--if you arrived that way and walked to the Center Field Gate, you were greeted by the Budweiser Clydesdales. Inside the park, lines were shorter (since there were fewer people) but there's definitely still grumbling about the speed of service.
What was your experience tonight, either getting to and from the park or inside?
As for media reports, the Post paints a similar picture to what I saw, that the evening went smoothly. WJLA focuses on the glitchy scoreboard, apparently not finding anything else of note to report from the evening. Announced paid attendance was 20,487, says AP, noting that Metro says they noticed almost no difference from a normal rush hour. Another AP story talks about the scoreboard problems and the fact that the ballpark was less than half full. Next stop, Wednesday's triple threat with the Nats, the Wizards, and DC United all in action at the same time. And with warmer weather on the way, finally.
UPDATE: A few more media reports: WJLA reports on overzealous towing (and note the interesting use of an un-cleaned-up quote from an angry resident). The Examiner focuses on Metro having little trouble.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

This just in, from a Nats press release: "The Washington Nationals today announced they will offer individual game parking passes to fans for all 2008 home games at Nationals Park. The opportunity to purchase individual game parking is only available online by visiting nationals.com/waytogo." The lots/prices are: $15 per game at Green Lot HH (under the freeway at South Capitol Street); $20 per game at Orange Lot W (the old Capper Seniors lot at 7th and M); and $40 to Red Zone parking (lot unspecified). See my Stadium Parking map to see where these lots are (I'll update it with this info momentarily).
Quoth Stan: "After careful review of the experience of the first weekend, the team is pleased to make available yet another amenity for fans, daily parking spaces at various price levels." After some lots were pretty empty on Opening Night, this offer isn't surprising.
And note, again, that single-game parking in these lots is available only online--you have to buy it before you go to the game, because it won't be available by just driving to the lot. This presumably is being done with an eye toward mitigating the congestion that would arise when people wander around looking for parking. We'll see if they were *too* successful on Opening Night, and some people who dutifully took Metro or the Nats Express from RFK and saw few traffic problems and empty lots decide to now arrive by car, reversing the initial success.
If I were to offer advice, I'd say that buying a parking pass isn't a bad idea for weekend games, but I'd still counsel caution at the idea of driving to Near Southeast during a weeknight rush hour.
UPDATE: The Post writes about the new parking options, and also about Monday night's game being the next big test for getting fans to and from the ballpark.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Based on my own observations and some others that have come my way, it seems that the parking lots put together by the Nationals for Opening Night near the ballpark were not anywhere close to filled to capacity, despite months of dire predictions that even these 4,000 or so spaces would not be anywhere near enough to handle just season ticket holders, let alone people who just had tickets for that night and wanted to park near the stadium. For instance, the 110-space lot T at Third and K wasn't even opened on Sunday night, and lot U was nowhere near capacity. On the other hand, some reports say that Lot 8 at RFK was completely full, and there was overflow parking at Lot 7.
So, I'm looking for some information, and I'd love responses from readers. If you went to Opening Night, how did you get there? If you drove, did you have a parking pass for one of the lots? Which lot did you park in? Did you have a pass, but opted to take Metro or go to RFK? If you took Metro, how did you arrive? (Navy Yard, Capitol South, Union Station, N22 bus, other bus, etc.) Did you walk? Did you bike? Leave your information in the comments. Thanks!
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

While I spend the weekend running around trying to figure out how to be in six dozen places at once, I'll leave up this entry with what you might need to know if you're going to Nationals Park:
* Are you taking Metro? Read this. (Getting off at Capitol South? Use the JDLand.com Suggested Route.)
* Are you driving? Learn about traffic restrictions, flow, and other important information.
* Are you driving, and have a parking space reserved? Find the route the Nats want you to take to your lot.
* Are you driving, but don't have a space? Read about the free Nats Express shuttle service from RFK.
* Are you driving, and thinking you'll just "find some spot on the street"? Good luck with that. And bring the number for DPW with you, so you can find out how to retrieve your towed car.
* Are you biking? Read about the bike racks and bike valet.
* Are you walking? You win! Best option!
* Are you wondering what festivities will greet you when you get there? Here's Saturday's lineup, and Sunday's.
* Are you wondering what there will be to eat, or where to find other facilities? Look at this interactive map.
* Are you wondering about the rules and regulations and all other important pieces of information about the ballpark? Read the new official A to Z Guide.
* Remember what your mother taught you, that patience is a virtue.
If you're not going to either of the games, you can still watch them: Saturday's is on MASN at 6 pm, and Sunday's is on ESPN at 8 pm. And watch out for intermittent closures of the Douglass Bridge and South Capitol Street on Sunday night between 7:30 and 9:30.
And....
In the midst of the excitement, I'd like to just take a moment to make sure that stadium-goers and other curious folks wandering through here get a feel for what we've witnessed over the past two years while this ballpark has gone up, as a small reminder of exactly what has happened on South Capitol Street since April 2006.
If you pass through the Center Field Gate, think of this:
If you look toward the ballpark at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue, think of this:
If you come down South Capitol to N Street, think of this:
If you want to see more, here's the photos I took of the ballpark footprint and perimeter before demolition started in April, 2006, including some that haven't been posted until now. (The Ballpark Before-and-After gallery pairs many of these photos with how things look now, with links to see all the photos between the Before and the After.) If you want to see photos from other locations throughout Near Southeast, use the Photo Browser to pick spots on the map.
And a most sincere thank you to everyone who's written me over the past few days with such kind words about this little project that has turned into such a monster. It's in some ways a very bittersweet weekend for me, because the ballpark's opening means that this totally unexpected chapter in my life is coming to a close. JDLand isn't going anywhere, but the rest of the ride won't ever quite have the rush of the past few years. Then again, I may actually get some sleep.
Feel free to post what you see and experience (good or bad) in the comments.
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park
 

* The green multispace kiosk meters that are a big part of the Performance Parking pilot plan to discourage stadium-goers from parking on nearby streets have starting being activated today. I just trekked down to the ones now installed along Garfield Park (on Third Street SE, north of the SE Freeway), and the rates are listed for stadium events as: $2 first hour, $2 second hour, $18 third four, $18 fourth hour, and $2 each additional hours. So, that comes out to $40 for four hours of on-street parking during games, compared to the $15 per game flat rate being charged at the S and T lots, which are two blocks closer to the ballpark. Other times are $1 per hour on weekdays with a two-hour limit from 7 am to 6:30 pm and a three-hour limit from 6:30 pm to midnight; weekend rates are $1 per hour with a three-hour limit from 7 am to midnight. There are no fees charged on holidays, except during stadium events.
Here's a lousy cellphone photo of the rate info, and check the Parking Restrictions Map for the red and yellow streets to see where multispace meters are going to be in place. Everyone's invited to peek at any of the kiosks you wander by and post the locations and rates you see in the comments if they're different from these. DDOT tells me that all should be activated by Saturday morning.
UPDATE: I just found this DDOT Ballpark Parking Pilot page, and it includes this document showing parking prices and time restrictions by subzones (Near Southeast is Zone B, Southwest Zone A, and Capitol Hill being Zone C). Apparently there will be no parking at all during stadium events from Second Street west to South Capitol (including New Jersey), except on the 100 block of H Street where it will be $40 for four hours of parking (on the same sliding scale I described above). All of those are red or green streets on the map. There's also an overview document if you want some nice light reading.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

* Wednesday's Post uses the plight of the Positive Nature youth program to look at how all the remaining small businesses near the ballpark are having a tough time dealing with their skyrocketing tax assessments. The cab company moving next week mentioned in the article is Merritt Cab at First and K, where DRI is planning its 800,000-sq-ft office and retail project. There's also an accompanying video on Positive Nature; and it's interesting to note that Positive Nature arrived in the neighborhood in 2004, so it's not a long-standing business the way the Market Deli is, whose owner is now on the hook for $50,000 a year in property taxes.
* There's also a story that looks back at the openings of DC sports venues through the years, with highlights such as the Capital Centre getting its final inspection approvals just a few hours before the first Bullets game and the 15-mile backup on the Beltway that greeted the first game at FedEx Field.
* The Post's special section on the 2008 baseball season is also in Wednesday's paper, with plenty of mentions of the new ballpark, like these from Tom Boswell and Dave Sheinin.
Other ballpark stories from Tuesday (keeping in mind that for now I'm just pointing out pieces that have some slightly different angle from the eight billion other pieces):
* Bruce Johnson of WUSA blogs about the police presence planned for the ballpark, but I was unable to focus on the content after being greeted by my own photo from Saturday's GW game right at the top of his entry. Glad to know you're a reader, Bruce! Tell your readers and viewers about my site sometime!
* WTOP continues its ballpark-story-a-day regimen with word (and video!) that, while some of the new temporary surface lots *look* like they're dirt, they're actually a "mixture of compact concrete and other elements that help with drainage."
 

There's not a lot to say about Monday night's continuation of the Zoning Commission's hearing on whether to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary surface parking on eight lots in Buzzards Point. This session was mainly to have representatives of the Nationals and DDOT available for questions from the commissioners, and most of the time was spent taking them through the Ballpark Traffic Management Plan.
The big question seemed to be the one that chairman Hood opened with: are additional lots (beyond the ones approved over the summer) required by the Nationals this year? Gregory McCarthy of the Nationals replied that the team has its parking-space inventory complete for the 2008 season, but that some of the lots being used could be lost to development projects in 2009, requiring the team to continue to find locations for parking. Commissioner May noted that some buildings in the area are already under construction and would have underground parking available when they open, but McCarthy said that "most" are residential buildings that wouldn't be able to offer stadium parking because of their need to have the bulk of their spaces available at night for tenants. (There are two office buildings opening in the next year which could be targets for Nats parking--100 M and 55 M.)
There was also some discussion of the state of sidewalks (and lack thereof) in Buzzards Point, which the commission feels DDOT would need to address before allowing parking in that area. DDOT representative Karina Ricks was a little vague on whether new sidewalks would be DDOT's responsibility or whether it would be up to the lot owners at DDOT's behest to build acceptable sidewalks.
There were some questions about the routing of traffic toward existing parking lots and whether it is going to keep fans off the residential streets; McCarthy told the commissioners about the brochures going out with season-ticket parking passes giving the preferred routes to a fan's specific parking lot. If the ability to build new lots in Buzzards Point were to be approved, DDOT indicated that the current traffic management plans would be revised to take the additional traffic heading to that area into account.
(And speaking of this, apparently signs are now popping up along M Street to guide fans to parking lots based on zone color; there will also be signs about which freeway exit to take for which zones put up soon, according to McCarthy.)
It's expected that the commission will vote on this proposed amendment at its April 13 public meeting. If you want more information on this case (07-08A), here's the Office of Planning report, and you can also read my discussions of the original amendment for more detail on the limitations and rules of these lots. And, it should be emphasized that, if this amendment passes, it doesn't mean that surface lots will definitely be built on these blocks--this is just a change in zoning rules to allow the possibility of lots, if the landowners wish to build them.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 
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