Photos from Opening Day 2009
Apr 13, 2009 7:06 PM
The game didn't have the outcome fans hoped for, but there were a fair number of moments to cheer about for the pretty-darn-huge crowd that played hooky to show up at Nationals Park for the 2009 home opener. I took a pile of photos
, of the pre-game ceremonies and just a bunch of tableau shots from around the stadium, which eventually I'll get installed on my main ballpark page
. And, just for the heck of it, here's some reminders of what the area looked like before and after the stadium
Now, off to the ANC meeting, which I'm already late for.
No Revival at the Ballpark
Apr 13, 2009 12:52 PM
Jason Cherkis at the City Paper expounds on everything going on around the ballpark ("Nationals Park: No Revival Yet. Here Are a Few Reasons Why
"), and issues a point-by-point refutation of the "excuse making on the part of city officials and developers" in Sunday's Post story
. Of course, the stadium and the vast majority of the ballpark-related development is in Southeast and not Southwest, but it's not like he's the first to make that mistake....
One Thought on 'Slowed Development'
Apr 13, 2009 10:48 AM
I don't really feel like linking to this NBC4 piece on "Major Southeast Renovations in Limbo
" (working off of Sunday's Post piece
), but it does give me an excuse to wander into the Post archives and pass along a couple morsels from a March, 1998 piece about the MCI (now Verizon) Center, three months after it opened. The article is entitled "Neighborhood Isn't Cheering About Arena's Impact":
* "Although thousands of people have journeyed to the once-forgotten downtown neighborhood to watch professional basketball, hockey and other events, the three-month-old arena has not yet become the seven-day-a-week destination that team owner Abe Pollin envisioned when he built it."
* "Some neighborhood businesses are counting on Discovery because, except on game days or during concerts, the building has failed to produce the return that city leaders imagined when they hailed MCI Center as an engine for revitalization. 'It's not the pot of gold we thought at the end of the rainbow,' said Danny Callahan, an owner of the Rock sports bar across Sixth Street NW from the arena."
* "Restaurant owners say the arena has boosted business, but not to the extent they had hoped. [...] The arena has actually hurt business on nonevent nights. The old regulars don't drop by anymore, because they never know when the area will be swamped with arena patrons, and parking prices have shot up."
At least Nationals Park got a year before the it's-not-doing-what-people-said-it-would-do slew of articles. And what a shame that the MCI Center, after that disappointing start, never amounted to anything....
Heading to Opening Day? What You'll See That You Didn't See Last Year
Apr 12, 2009 7:59 PM
[Note: I'm back in town after almost a week away (reminder to self: next year don't skip town the week before the home opener), so apologies if my coverage of the various events and media pieces has seemed even less scintillating than usual. And now I'm going to end the week with one more less-than-perfect entry, which I should have written before I left but didn't do it until now....]
If you haven't been back to Nationals Park
or the surrounding Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards neighborhood since last year's Opening Day, here's what you'll see that wasn't completed on your last visit:
* 55 M Street
- Right on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, at the head of Half Street, is Monument Realty's 275,000-sq-ft office building, which has been finished in the last few months and which will be home to Artomatic
this summer. No office or retail tenants have been announced, although WBJ reported a few weeks back
that Gordon Biersch
may be eyeing some of 55 M's ground-floor space. The rest of Monument's Half Street site remains a large hole in the ground, with financing for the planned 350 residential units and adjoining hotel directly across from the ballpark nowhere to be found.
* 70 and 100 I Street
- Sibling apartment buildings officially known as the Axiom and Jefferson at Capitol Yards first began move-ins in late summer 2008, and their combined 700 units are reported to be about 50 percent leased. (They're the big brick buildings sitting just south of the Freeway.)
* Onyx on First
- Another apartment building (though it had been originally planned as condos), Onyx opened at the corner of First and L streets in late fall of 2008. It has approximately 266 units.
* 100 M Street
- On the site of the old On Luck cafeteria at First and M, this 240,000-sq-ft office building opened right at the tail end of 2008, and is close to 40 percent leased, with Parsons occupying about one-third of the space. A SunTrust Bank branch is under construction on the ground floor--there's additional retail space where a restaurant could be a possibility, though no deals have been announced.
* 909 New Jersey
- Finished mere moments ago (it opened last week), this 237-unit apartment building at New Jersey and I by JPI (developers of 70 and 100 I) is catching eyes with its blue-edged nighttime profile, and is generating piles of "have they signed anyone for their retail space?" messages in my inbox (answer: not that I've heard so far). Baseball fans walking down from Capitol South will also appreciate the wide new sidewalk now just one block south of the freeway.
As for what's currently underway, there's the first phase of townhouses at Capitol Quarter
(where the first residents will move in this month and where work will continue into next year), the 200-unit Velocity condo building
at First and L, and the 440,000-sq-ft office building at 1015 Half Street
(which will be completed in 2010 but will already be cursed for obscuring the view of the Capitol dome from some seats in the ballpark that had it last year). There's also construction continuing at Diamond Teague Park
, right across from the ballpark's grand staircase, but the somewhat optimistic timeline of having the water taxi piers completed by Opening Day has now been revised to "midseason."
Work had begun on rehabbing the brown-and-white Pattern/Joiner Shop
at the Yards
last year (which folks walking to the ballpark from the Nats Express drop-off will see), but financing problems brought the work to a halt early in 2009, and Forest City continues to look for money to restart the project.
The most prominent structure that's disappeared in the past 12 months is the former WMATA bus garage
on Half Street just across from the subway entrance, demolished two weeks ago to make way for Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use development, though that project won't get underway before 2010. (The south end of Akridge's Half Street land is where the [not-a-]beer garden
may appear later this summer.)
But, as has been written about extensively elsewhere, as of now there's no new places to eat since last year (though a deli is coming to Third and K
in May), and most likely no additional projects will get underway before next year.
So, study this little guide and amaze your friends with your knowledge of what's what as you look at the ballpark's surroundings.
, Akridge/Half St.
, Capitol Quarter
, Foundry Lofts/Yards
, Monument/Half St.
, Square 743N
, Square 699n
, Nationals Park, Water Taxis/Riverboats
, The Yards
Post Looks at the Neighborhood One Year Later
Apr 12, 2009 8:30 AM
Racing out the door here for the day, so I'll just quickly post this link to today's A1 WashPost piece, "At Nationals Park, District of Dreams Hits a Slump
," another entry in the one-year-after-the-ballpark stories being run by various local media outlets. The short version: there's nowhere to eat, developers paid too much for land, the economic crunch that's hit the rest of the country is reflected here, and city officials say that people shouldn't have expected everything to be ready immediately.
Getting to Monday's Opener via Metro; Pre-Game
Apr 10, 2009 9:03 AM
Metro has just put out a press release
detailing their service plans for Monday's 3:05 pm Nats home opener against the Phillies, which includes rush hour service starting at 1 pm, and extra trains when the game ends. (Though they should have checked their link to the old Monument Half Street construction cam before including it in their release, since the camera is no longer operating.) There's also the wmata.com/nationals
page for additional details on the bus lines that run near the park--but remember that the DC Circulator bus that runs between Union Station, Eastern Market, and New Jersey and M is not run by WMATA, so DCCirculator.com
is the place to go for info on that, though so far there's no details on how late it'll run on Monday (normally it stops at 7 pm).
With President Obama apparently not throwing out the first pitch
after all, there might not be quite so much of a need to arrive early, but the Nats have still planned a lineup of special events, and are opening the Center Field Gate at 12:30 pm, with batting practice starting at 12:45. There will be a band playing on the new stage in the Center Field plaza and another one up on the Scoreboard Walk. Nats Extra, the MASN pregame show, will be broadcasting live from the Center Field plaza at 2 pm, and the official pre-game ceremonies (hosted by David Gregory of Meet the Press) will start at 2:35 pm. Nearby residents and office workers who won't be at the game should prepare themselves for the planned "flyover by four helicopters, a OH-58 Kiowa, two UH-1 Hueys and one UH-72 Lakota" during the National Anthem. The Nats have their own transportation page, at nationals.com/waytogo
, though as I noted a few weeks ago, it still needs a bit of freshening for 2009 (the Metrobus page is still dedicated to the N22).
I'll add this on, since this is ballpark-related: the four parking lots
at The Yards
are available for baseball parking (just not as part of the official network of Nats lots this year), for either $25 or $20 per game; call or e-mail
for more information. Other cash lots include the garage at 100 M
and the small surface lot at 250 M
and I believe the lots under 80 M and 1100 New Jersey, though I'm not 100% sure. The official Nats cash lot (where you can also buy single-game parking via their web site
) is Lot U at 3rd and K, and costs $15 this year. In other words, if you want to drive down near the ballpark and pay cash for parking, you should be able to find a spot, though these lots may be more full during weekday afternoon games, since they're also used by commuters. I plan to update my Stadium Parking page
Sports Bar at Velocity?
Apr 9, 2009 9:35 PM
From a piece in Friday's Post
about [the lack of] food and drink options near Nationals Park
: "The Velocity Capitol Riverfront
condominiums, slated to open at First and L streets SE in the fall, will have a sports bar as part of its ground floor retail space." This is slightly different from what the Velocity sales office was telling prospective buyers earlier this year, which was that an Italian bistro was being planned.
The article also gives more details on the Akridge "block party" space
at Half and N, mentions Artomatic
, and talks about access via Circulator bus to the restaurants on Barracks Row.
Obama Not Throwing Out First Pitch?
Apr 9, 2009 8:47 PM
From the WashTimes
: "President Barack Obama won't be at Nationals Park on Monday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals' home opener.
"According to a White House aide, Obama will decline the team's invitation to throw the pitch in the game against the Philadelphia Phillies, brushing back a presidential tradition that dates back to 1910."
More on the 'Beer Garden' (or Not)
Apr 9, 2009 5:14 PM
City Paper does some digging
on the "Beer Garden" item on ANC6D's April 13 agenda that I posted about yesterday
: "Andrew J. Kline, representing Robert 'Bo' Blair, said at a March 25 meeting of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board that his client wants to create a 'festival site with amenities' near Nationals Stadium, but that 'beer garden is not our term, I don't know where that came from.' [Note from JD: that's what it said on the ANC agenda.]
"Blair, who is on four licenses in the city, according to Kline, plans to hire private security staff, and there will be one main entrance to the festival site. There will be no cover for admittance, and there will be a separate tent where alcohol is served where staff will check IDs. Their preliminary proposal indicates a trailer will be used to lock up liquor when there's no game."
Further information in a WashPost piece
on food and drink options near the ballpark: "And the real estate firm Akridge, which plans to eventually turn the space of a former Metrobus garage at Half and M streets into shops, offices and residential units, is hoping to convert the now-empty lot across from the centerfield gate on N Street into something of a block party this season. 'The concept is a tented event space -- partially tented, mostly open -- with live entertainment, food and beverages," says Akridge Development Manager Adam Gooch. 'Half Street is supposed to be the entertainment area.... We're trying to get some life down here.' Permits, schedules and most of the details of the project have yet to be finalized[.]"
Brief Morning Linkage (Ballpark, Boathouse Row)
Apr 9, 2009 8:58 AM
Some very quick links:
* The Post's Marc Fisher ruminates on the the futures
of both the Nats and the unfinished neighborhood surrounding their new home: "But despite the optimism each new season brings, there is a growing unease, questions about whether fans will really support the team and whether the city's investment will provide the promised returns. Times and moods change." And Fox5 has its own look
at the neighborhood in advance of the Nats's home opener.
Player Sculptures, Mobile to Be Unveiled Wednesday
Apr 7, 2009 3:07 PM
A reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) is the public unveiling of the white bronze statues of Josh Gibson, Frank Howard, and Walter Johnson, as well as the new "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" mobile--at the ballpark
. It's at 11 am, and is free and open to the public (gates open at 10:30 am). The Post has more
about the artworks and the artists. (I won't be able to be there, so I'll have to wait until Opening Day to get pictures.)
New Nats High School Initiative; At the Ballpark
Apr 5, 2009 12:18 AM
The first home Nats game of 2009--Saturday evening's exhibition against the Orioles (which the Nats won, 5-4)--brought the following items big and small worth mentioning:
* The Nats announced their "Public High School Initiative
," which has two parts: all 12 District high school baseball teams have been invited to have one two-hour practice at Nationals Park, either on the field or at the indoor batting cages. Plus, all DC public high schools have been invited to pick a home game that will be "their" night at the stadium, with game tickets donated for every student at the school and a pre-game school recognition ceremony.
* The "NatsTown
" marketing campaign is in full swing--the neighborhood may be getting another name to add to its lengthy list. (This probably means my decision to rebrand it as Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards
probably isn't going to catch on.)
* Folks worried about whether all the work along Half Street would be done by Opening Day didn't need to worry--it was open in time for the season ticket holders' event in early afternoon.
* As someone who hates trying to eat in the bleachers, I was glad to see new narrow stainless steel counters on the main concourse behind sections 137, 136, and 135 in right field (there may be others, these are just the ones I saw). So you can stand at the top of the section, eat, watch the game, then go back to your seat, which will proably also make the people sitting near you happy, too.
* 100 M
(at First and M) is offering gameday parking in their garage (not part of the Nationals' official network of lots), priced at $25 a game. The no-longer-official lots at the Yards (last years' E, Y, and Z) lots were also available as cash lots, along with the surface lot at 250 M
. I didn't see if 80 M is doing it again, or if 1100 New Jersey (former lot R) is going the cash lot route after not renewing as an official Nats lot this year.
* Akridge has finally covered over the Monument Half Street signage on the west side of Half Street at N
, surrounding the lot that Akridge bought from Monument last August.
* I thought I lived pretty close to the ballpark until I started talking with a guy after the game as we were crossing M Street heading up First, and within seconds he walked into the Onyx
lobby and arrived home.
* I took no pictures. I recognize that this means my JDLand salary will be cut by an appropriate amount. (Sometimes you just want to enjoy a ballgame.)
Photos of No-Bus-Garage; Teague Dock Status
Apr 3, 2009 4:03 PM
As already mentioned, the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M streets bit the dust this week, and when the sun unexpectedly peeked out at noontime, I had to go get the shots. You can see the basic views on my Akridge Half Street page
, or you can check out the Photo Archive's Half and M
and Van and M
I also took some updated photos (though not complete sets) along N Street, at Half
, and Cushing
, if you'd like to be reminded before heading to the stadium this season of what the area just north of the ballpark looked like only a few short years ago. (And don't miss today's photos from inside the park
I also peeked in down at Diamond Teague Park
, where signs of progress are visible (there's now concrete poured in slabs between the shore and the pumphouse), but will the docks be ready "by Opening Day" as has been touted? The dry-land parts of the park are expected to be completed in mid-Summer.
What's New at the Ballpark for 2009
Apr 3, 2009 2:52 PM
The Nationals invited the media (and a few others) in today to show the changes at the ballpark for this year, in advance of tomorrow's exhibition against the Orioles. This press release
gives plenty of specifics, and there will no doubt be stories by most media outlets, so I decided to focus on taking pictures--I've thrown them together in a What's New at the Ballpark quick gallery
, while I try to decide how to incorporate them into my main Nationals Park
pages. You'll see changes like the new garage-style windows and seating area at the Red Porch (above), new seating on the field-side of the Porch, new seven-foot-tall president bobbleheads for kids to pose with in the "Family Fun Area," a newly branded Exxon(TM) Strike Zone, and some new signage.
There was also a showcasing of the new food being offered by Levy Restaurants, the new concessionaire. To quote the release: "Four new concessions concepts will be introduced at the park including a Healthy Plate cart, featuring healthy wraps, fresh salads, vegetables and hummus and fresh fruit; The Pit at the Red Loft, opening mid-season and serving traditional pit barbeque prepared on a charcoal grill; a barbeque concession stand, also opening mid-season on the main concourse, serving ribs, pulled pork and brisket; and the Triple Play Grill, located in the Left Field V and offering a pulled pork sandwich and foot-long Crab Louie sandwich."
I'll update with links to the media coverage as it comes in.
Morning Roundup - Back to the Ballpark Edition
Apr 3, 2009 9:03 AM
I'll be back later today with news from a "What's New at the Ballpark
" tour, but here's a few items to clear off the desk first:
* There's a baseball game tomorrow night! It's the Nats vs. the O's in what is looking to become a traditional exhibition game. It's at 6:05 pm (though there's also a shindig for season-ticket holders earlier in the afternoon), and the usual suspects are gearing up to help people get to the ballpark. Metro has updated their Go Metro! Go Nats! page
, which includes a brochure
on all the bus/rail options. And, because tomorrow has a sports tripleheader (Nats, Wizards, and DC United), Metro is letting people know they're ready
. However, the new DC Circulator
route (which is run by the city, not Metro) will not be running tomorrow
--its expanded service for Nats weekend gates will start during the regular season. On the other hand, the Nats Express shuttle will be running from the free parking at RFK from noon until 90 minutes after the game ends. The Nats have a Way to Go
page of their own with details on how to get to the ballpark, but it looks like it still needs a touch of refreshing for 2009.
* While the ballpark tour today will include a sampling of the food offerings at the stadium by new concessionaire Levy Restaurants, Dan Steinberg has already broken the news of the lineup of beers at the ballpark
for 2009. Because it's important to have one's priorities straight.
* There may be some better feeling between city officials and the Nats during the pre-game ceremonies tomorrow (where Mayor Fenty will throw out the first pitch and council chairman Gray will give the "Washington, let's play ball!" salute), because the team has paid its 2009 rent on time
* In non-ballpark news, UrbanTurf reports
that Velocity Condos
is having a "preview weekend"--apparently they've completed construction on one of the models in the building itself (they've had a full-scale model inside their sales center since it opened last year). Tours are by appointment, with prices starting in the $300s. Their official web site is velocitycapitol.com
(though it doesn't mention the preview).
* The WMATA bus garage
is now history. The weather's too lousy for me to get pictures today, but I'll get some tomorrow. The question is, will Half Street be open by tomorrow afternoon?
* But, the real cliffhanger of the weekend is: will we be seeing the schoolbuses driven off the Canal Park
lots? Those of you with the prime vantage points are deputized to alert us all if you see them driving off (and not coming back).
High School Baseball Tourney Returns to Ballpark
Mar 31, 2009 1:34 PM
The news has crossed my desk that the Congressional Bank Baseball Classic
is returning to Nationals Park
for its second year, on May 30, 2009. As with last year, it will feature four games showcasing high-school baseball talent--a game between the top two public schools, another between the top two private schools, followed by a title match between the two winners. There will also be an All-Star game. There's a fundraiser being held on April 19; more information on that at the official web site
One Year Ago Today....
Mar 30, 2009 3:04 PM
March 30, 2008, was cold, overcast, and damp. (I *still* haven't warmed up.) And, on schedule (which few people ever thought would happen), Nationals Park
saw its official debut, with the 2008 Nats season opener against the Atlanta Braves. President Bush threw out the first pitch, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer to win the game 3-2. And there were long long lines at the Ben's Chili Bowl window. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, here are my photos from that Opening Night
; for your added perusal, here's the batch from the exhibition
against the Orioles the night before (and here
). Somehow it seems a lot longer than a year....
Demolition Underway at Old Bus Garage
Mar 28, 2009 6:50 PM
Don't know if the work started on Friday or today, but a late-evening drive down M Street brought the surprise news that demolition is now underway on the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage
at Half and M. The demo is starting at its southeastern end (closer to N Street), and I can't imagine it'll take too long to dismantle the building. There's scaffolding now in place for a pedestrian walkway along the garage's M Street face. This is the first demolished building of 2009 in the neighborhood, and the 154th since I started photographing the neighborhood. (Browse the previous 153 via my Demolished Buildings gallery
.) The bus garage site, now owned by Akridge, is slated to be replaced with 700,000-sq-ft of office, residential, and retail offerings, with construction perhaps beginning in 2010.
When I was circling the block to check the extent of the demolition (made more difficult by Half Street currently being closed so that infrastructure work can be done), I drove past the Center Field Gate at the ballpark
and saw that the blank concrete wall that used to be the northern face of the Red Porch restaurant is now floor-to-ceiling windows, looking onto the plaza.
Player Statues, Other Art To Be Unveiled
Mar 23, 2009 3:19 PM
From a hot-off-the-presses Nats press release, an announcement that on April 8 the Nationals and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
will unveil two public artworks at Nationals Park
: bronze statues of Washington baseball legends Frank Howard, Josh Gibson, and Walter Johnson, which will be placed in the Center Field Plaza; and "The Ball Game," which has "four suspended mobiles with approximately 48 hand-painted figures hanging in action," which rotate to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and which will be hung on the concourse at the top of the grand staircase.
Peeking at Changes in Nats Parking Lots for 2009 (Updated)
Mar 23, 2009 9:54 AM
Sometime within the past few weeks the Nats updated their parking information pages for season ticket holders
and individual game parking
, which I've brought together in an update of my stadium parking map
. In comparing them to the last year's parking options
, you can see the following changes:
* There's no "official" parking at The Yards
anymore (the "blue zone" from 2008, lots E, Z, and Y). Perhaps they'll be available as cash lots, but I haven't heard. (See Update II below.)
* Lot "S" way up at Second and H has been dropped, too.
* New official lots have cropped up at the WMATA bus garage site
and underneath 55 M Street (lot O)
. The WMATA garage was offered as $50 valet parking starting about mid-season last year.
* Individual game-day parking prices have dropped by $5 for most of the lots that were same-day purchase lots last year (though the purchasing system doesn't seem to exactly match the map
when it comes to the red zone, which says $35 for the lots other than the official garages while the purchasing system says $40 for all red zone parking).
As for whether the Nats Express shuttle from RFK is going to run, there's been no announcement, and the page for it on the official web site
, looks like it hasn't been updated since last season. (It hasn't been updated to replace the N22 references
with news of the new Circulator route, either.) The "interactive trip planner
" also has not yet been updated to show the 2009 parking options.
I imagine more info will be coming soon.
UPDATE: The Nationals have passed along word that the Nats Express shuttle from RFK will be running again this year. Also, the lot under 55 M won't be an official lot after all.
The folks at the Yards
say that they will be offering both cash parking and "season subscription" parking in their lots that were formerly lots E, Y, and Z last year. (They'll just be doing it on their own and not as part of the lineup of "official" Nats lots.) More info to come soon.
UPDATE III: Reader J. rightly notices that Lot R (under 1100 New Jersey) is also gone from the 2009 lineup.