Thursday night's game at Nationals Park
against the Tampa Rays was a relatively painless 5-2 win for the Nats, upping the team's record to 40-27 before they make the quick trip up to Baltimore for a weekend rematch against the Orioles.
Announced paid attendance was 29,551, which pushed the mark for the 2012 season just above 1 million (1,002,396 for you sticklers
). This is an average of 29,482 tickets sold per game through the first 34 of the season, compared to 22,948 at the same point last year. (The team didn't reach the 1 million mark in 2011's home attendance until July 9.)
According to Dan Steinberg
, seven of the 13 biggest crowds in Nats Park history have come this season, three of them just last weekend for the Yankees series. The average through these first 34 games is a smidge higher than for the same span in the ballpark's inaugural 2008 season, and is no doubt well outpacing the 2009-2011 doldrums.
So, there's an average of 6,500-plus more bodies traipsing through the streets around the ballpark for every game this year than last year, along with far more sellouts and near sellouts than the ballpark has seen in its previous four seasons--how is this working out for the neighborhood? I haven't heard much carping--is this because traffic and humanity are generally moving well (albeit with a bit more patience required during the big games), or is it more because most Near Southeast residents moved to the neighborhood after the stadium opened, and so have no "before" frame of reference and are also more accepting of the crowds since they knew what they were getting into? (The point of view might be a bit different across the way in the established residential areas of Southwest.) Or does a winning record and a first-place team magically lessen the pain and grumbling?