The Washington Nationals moved to Washington DC for the 2005 season. The team had previously called Montreal, Quebec, Canada home since 1969.
DC has had teams in the past as two sets of teams called the Senators called the nation's capital their home. The original Washington Senators started in 1901 but in 1960 moved to Minnesota to become the Twins. Major League Baseball decided to expand in 1961 and a new Senators were born. By 1972 they also moved away to Arlington, Texas to become the Texas Rangers.
The new Nationals team, now a National League based franchise, spent their first three seasons calling RFK Stadium home. Besides the second Washington Senators, the Washington Redskins used to call the stadium home. Currently the main tenant of that crumbling edifice is DC United of Major League Soccer.
Nationals Park opened in 2008. The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the first Washington Senators, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium. Nationals Park is owned by the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.
The area around the stadium is called the Navy Yard area. The Washington Navy Yard is the closest major neighbor to the stadium.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are numerous options for food at Nationals Park.
Hard Times Cafe is always a personal favorite of mine, offering various chili choices. Try the Cincinnati style as it is the most unique. Ben's Chili Bowl has a very good "Half Smoke" $7.50, and is a DC based favorite.
Shake Shack has a location in center field. The shakes are the best options here, although their food is no slouch either.
Hot dogs ($5), soda ($4) and the usual food items can be found around the park at stands such as Taste of the Majors and Change Up Chicken. There is also some unique offerings at Blue Smoke, Chesapeake Crab Cake Company, Field of Greens, G Sandwich Shop by Mike Isabell, Enzos Pizza, Intentional Wok and Virginia Country Kitchen.
Gluten Free Grill and Kosher Grill also make good options depending on dietary and other restrictions.
Craft beer choices also abound, although they will be a few dollars more expensive than standard beer offerings. DC Brau, 3 Stars, Mad Fox and Atlas are all local offerings that can be found all over the park.
Nationals Park separates itself from many of the other parks built between the mid 1990s onward. It uses an abundance of steel and concrete instead of traditional brick. It makes for an interesting view although lacks the warmth of the brick laden stadiums. Another unique part of the stadium is that the main entrance is in the center field area. The majority of fans come to the stadium from the north. The Anacostia River sits to the south of the stadium. That main entranceway has a wide outfield plaza that is a perfect meeting spot for fans.
The Red Porch, an indoor/outdoor restaurant is the main focal spot in center field. The Red Loft bar sits above the restaurant.
The stadium has wide concourses and feels very airy. The seating bowl is in three levels. There are also 79 suites on those three levels.
The stadium still offers no real view as of yet beyond the stadium. There is much new construction in the area as it seems that a new building is in view almost every day. The Anacostia River is essentially hidden from view as it sits behind the home plate stands.
As a fan, the favorite attraction at the park, besides the game, is in the middle of the 4th inning. The Presidents Race where a large Tom Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Taft and George Washington race around the park is held at that time.
In 2010, the stadium added the Ring of Honor, celebrating players from the Washington Senators (Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Goose Goslin, Clark Griffith, Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Harmon Killebrew, Heinie Manush, Sam Rice, and Early Wynn), Negro League Homestead Grays (Cool Papa Bell, Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cumberland Posey, and Jud Wilson), and tthe Montreal Expos (Gary Carter and Andre Dawson) who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Navy Yards area in Southeast DC can simply be called "up and coming." Once pretty beat down, the area is showing dramatic growth, mainly because of the stadium.
Half St SE is a small road that runs from M Street and into the main entrance of the stadium. This road is a major gathering area for fans as it is the main way to get from the Metro to the stadium. The Bullpen is a makeshift, temporary outdoor bar using shipping containers and food trucks that makes a nice pre-game stop.
Barracks Row and the Waterfront are other great neighborhoods not far from Navy Yards that may make a good stopping spot before and after a game.
Gordon Biersch is located near the park and is just one of the many restaurants that are starting to come to the area. I also like Z Burger at the Waterfront as a food option as it is a short walk away and near a quieter Metro stop.
Georgetown is a great area to visit. The options there will astound you, but Billy Martin's Tavern and Georgetown Cupcake will also treat one right. A few of my other DC favorites are Smith Commons, Doi Moi and Bar Charley. A good suggestion is to stop by Bar Charley for some great craft cocktails and walk the few blocks over to Doi Moi to finish up with some great Asian small plates.
And did I mention you are right in the middle of Washington, DC? The amount of attractions, museums, restaurants and other sights are astounding. Spend some time pre or postgame seeing the many things around this great city.
The fan base is getting better. Originally known for being pretty quiet and tame, the team's supporters are starting to get into their own rhythm. They are still not the loudest but may grow over time.
There still is often many fans of other teams. That is understandable in a transient type city as DC is.
This is DC, so parking is never the best idea. There are many lots around in the area and at various prices. But the best option is to try and not drive in this madness and instead take the subway system, known as the Metro.
If you do insist on driving and parking, expect the area to be expensive and tough to navigate. There are a total of 14 Nationals Park-sanctioned parking lots or garages, with a small number of third-party lots also in the vicinity of the stadium. Parking towards the Washington Navy Yards seems to be the best option.
Although it is the best option, the Metro is frustratingly overpriced compared to similar subway systems in other cities, but it really does get you to nearly all parts of the city. Just be careful on weekends when trains run less often, as you may encounter some extended wait times. Also look out for closing hours, although usually game nights will have some extended hours.
The Navy Yard stop is about a block or so away from the main entrance. The Waterfront stop is also close by down M Street. If coming from Maryland, the best option may be to park at the Greenbelt Station, as the Green Line is a direct, no transfer, trip from there to Nationals Park.
If driving, look for the 6th St SE exit off of I-395 as a good route in. Signage is pretty good.
You will also spend quite a bit of time walking around DC. It is large and spread out, so bring some good walking shoes. The National Mall and all its attractions are just a few blocks north so try and stop by pre or postgame.
Check out Parking Panda for some of the best parking options for the game. Use the promo code STADIUMJOURNEY10 for 10% off your first transaction.
Obviously the parking is pricey, and the Metro is pretty expensive as well. Luckily tickets are available at decent prices. Technically the tickets can be expensive at face value, but on the secondary market things get cheaper. Expect the prices even there to go up if the team continues their winning ways.
Being in Washington DC is a pretty major extra on its own. The dizzying options for food and tourist stops in the area make the Nationals Park a must stop for any baseball fan's road trip.
The President race is fun to watch and gives the park a great fan experience as well.
You will see that the press box at Nationals Park is named the Shirley Povich Media Center. Shirley Povich was a longtime sports columnist and reporter for The Washington Post. He was recipient of the Baseball Writers Association of America's J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1975. That award is essentially the Baseball Hall of Fame honor for sportswriters.
Another extra goes to the parking lots just in view beyond center field. Not often are we going to honor a parking structure, but the two lots serve to frame that impressive main entrance in the outfield, and it certainly is a different kind of view.
Nationals Park is less heralded than many other new stadiums, but its great design, up and coming neighborhood and fan offerings make it a winner for all.
On approach, Nationals Park looks like a large, round office building. There is a real feel of the old 70's multipurpose stadiums like Veterans, Three Rivers and Riverfront Stadiums. But once inside, it is clear that this is every bit the modern stadium, complete with great food, drinks and activities. Oh, yeah, they play baseball here, too. The best way to describe it would be to imagine that Three Rivers and Camden Yards got together and had an ugly baby with a great personality and disposition. It never cries, is always happy and laughing, but, man, is it hard to look at.
This could be a great place for baseball. The food is fantastic and if/when the team puts something competitive out there the city could be a wonderful town. For now, this is a great park to work in during a visit to the nation's capital.
The Nationals have seriously upgraded their digs since the days of RFK. I had the opportunity to see a game there a number of years back, and if the baseball team wasn't bad enough, the aesthetics made it a less then pleasurable experience. However, their new park has all the beautiful views and amenities that all of today's parks do, a fact that makes it a bit cookie-cutterish, but the game viewing-experience is nice enough you forget about that. There are not many bad vantage points I could see (though the friends I went with said that the back of the upper deck does not make for a good view at all), and bargains can be had quite easilyâ?¦we sat along the first base side in the 200 level ($32 a ticket face value) for well below that via StubHub. I would imagine that until the team becomes relevant for a while that these bargains will continue to abound. Getting to the ballpark is very easy from all areas of D.C. The Metro drops you off right outside the park, and extra trains run the day of game. The view of the Potomac was quite nice, though if you are looking for a bar after the game, good luck. Foodwise, I had the best thing I ever eaten at any park here, at a place I believe was called Jammin' BBQ, though don't quote me on the nameâ?¦just know it's located behind the left field side of the main scoreboard. I had the jerk ribs, which came with some potato wedges and fried plantains, and a dish of cole slaw. The cost was high at $16 (especially as there were only 6 ribs) but they were meaty, and absolutely mouth-watering, with a great dry rub combined with an amazing sauce. The hot dogs were good; Washingtonites must love their dogs, as the lines for them were huge park-wide, while lines for BBQ pulled pork and brats were walk up and order. There are many decent beer selections, especially if you are like me, a beer snob who would rather go without then lower myself to cheap Bud or Miller swill. They had Leinie's, Sam Adams, Newcastle, Guinness, Bass, and many others, as well as the choice I went with, a house Home Run Ale, which the vendor said was "sort of like Bass"â?¦it was good. No matter the beer, they cost $8, so you might as well get the good stuff. Beyond the game, you have the D.C. equivalent of the Milwaukee Sausage race, the Presidents Race. I wondered why all the souvenir stands sold the Teddy Roosevelt stuff for $2 more then Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson, and found out that Teddy is everyone's favorite, because in the year's since the park has opened, he has never won a race, making him infinitely popular as a lovable loser. (as a Cubs fan, I could appreciate this) Walking in the main gate is a great view, with cherry trees and player sculptures in the foreground, and the full view of the park in the background. Nats fans are starting to come aroundâ?¦they seem to like the manager and the fact the team spent some money in the off-season. It's easy to see the fans start really coming if the team stays over .500 for any length of time. All in all, the experience is a bit over-priced, but if you are smart, you can get in cheap and add quality baseball to your D.C. trip.
Nats Park is nice, but does not stand up to Camden Yards which is just up I-95. It is difficult to get to by car, the METRO is OK but a zoo after games if there is any crowd. While I enjoyed my visit, I still prefer Camden Yards to catch a game.
With a winning team I might be more willing to make the journey, it might just make the difference.
I gave up on MLB after the strike (believe it or not, I generally don't hold grudges, but that's a different story.) So, despite living an 8 minute walk from the stadium, I've only been there twice--for the annual Congressional baseball game.
Don't go for the baseball--go for a cheap chance to wander around the park, contribute to a good cause, and witness a truly decent aspect of American politics. Despite "politics as usual," this annual event has been running strong for decades, and it symbolizes pure decency and bipartisanship, reaching across the aisle, sportsmanship, and setting differences aside.
Sadly, the event isn't widely publicized outside of Congressional circles. But do a little googling and you'll find the date. Then just show up. You won't need a ticket in advance. There will be maybe 5000 other people there cheering for democracy. Considering that, in any given year, there are usually a few former athletes in Congress, you'll get to see a couple of people who understand the game at least. And it's always fun to see what local team's uniform your Congressman has chosen to wear.
The stadium itself is a nice, new, modern stadium. It's everything you'd expect from a 21st Century stadium, but nothing that will wow you. The Stadium site was chosen to revitalize a bad neighborhood. It's definitely doing that, but much more slowly than many would have hoped. The Metro is a convenient option, but parking at Nationals Stadium has proven to be much less of a hassle than many originally feared.
Beatiful park but the crowd seemed to be more interested in talking about business rather than cheering on the team. Ben's half smoke chilli dog is a sign from god. It's messy and georgious. The president's race is truily unique and the field and sightlines are perfect. Neighbourhood is lifeless.
The stadium is very nice and the fans are excited now that the team wins. Even with the team's success, you can get cheap tickets on StubHub a few days before the game. DO NOT buy from the Nationals, especially since they raised prices in 2013.
Strasburg. Harper. Zimmerman - the young studs of the Washington Nationals, who play their home games in Nationals Park, one of the youngest stadiums in the majors. Opening in time for the 2008 season, the home of the ‘Nats’ is a tremendous upgrade over their previous residence, RFK Stadium. At a cost of $700 million, the Nationals home is a first class facility located in the Southeast waterfront area of the Anacostia River.
The Nationals have found recent success by building through the draft and some key free agent acquisitions. 2012’s playoff run has pushed attendance at Nationals Park to an all-time high, drawing over 32,000 fans a game in 2013, up from 24,000 two seasons prior. Overall capacity is a little over 41,000, so there is still some work to do to fill up the stadium on a nightly basis.
As a fan, this is one of my favorite stadiums. Overall, it delivers a great experience and with a few tweaks, it could be best in class.
If visiting from out of town, stay at the Marriott Courtyard. It is only a few blocks from Nationals Park (walking distance) and just one block from the subway station. The neighborhood is safe. Washington DC does have one of the better subway systems so getting in and around the area is pretty easy and affordable.
I would recommend visiting Gordon Biersch for a pre or post game drink or meal. There’s a Red Porch Food & Spirits just inside the center field entrance gate at Nationals Park that is worthy of a visit for a beer and bite to eat.
There is a lot of construction around the ballpark (2014). They are knocking down a building and I’ve heard they will be constructing a retail outlet including a hotel, movie theater, and shops. I heard three different stories on what will be constructed in the area so we’ll see what finally gets built.
The fans (at least in the 300 section) are knowledgeable and very welcoming. Just near section 309 is a cart (Distinct Brews) offering craft beers and is worth visiting if local brews are your preference.
It’s hard to believe that 2014 marked the 10th season of Nationals baseball, and that four new ballparks have opened since their stadium in Southeast Washington became home to the Nats. Built as a complete opposite to their rivals in Birdland 45 minutes away, Nationals Park is a modern facility designed to mimic some of DC’s architecture. A proper home for America’s pastime in the nation’s capital certainly had close calls on whether it would materialize.
For much of the 1900s, baseball included a team in the District, and those squads certainly struggled. Referred to as both the Nationals and Senators, Washington only won a single World Series title and just three pennants over 70 years of play. The musical “Damn Yankees” embodies those times. The son of longtime owner Clark Griffith moved the club to Minnesota in 1960, while Washington received an expansion franchise. The new Senators did not last long, as they moved to Texas in 1972.
After a long period of time trying to figure out what to do with the Montreal franchise, Major League Baseball finally came to a decision and moved the team to Washington. The Nationals spent a few years in RFK Stadium (a horrible place for baseball) until relocating into their new home in 2008. The surrounding neighborhood seems to get better by the day and with a good team now in place, Nationals Park is underrated as a decent ballpark.
Moving a franchise and starting from scratch can't be easy. I went during the 2013 season and was disappointed. Everything in the stadium felt forced. The statues in centerfield, the speakers that stick out of the third deck, etc. Even the in between inning activities felt stuck somewhere painful between major league and minor league. The whole deal is just awkward
Nationals Park is one of the more recent ballparks to be built, and as a result has a sleek modern design. This actually fits very nicely, as the Nationals are a newer team without a lot of history yet. The open concourse around the park is a huge plus. From several areas of the upper deck, the capital building is visible. The fans are not bad, but the atmosphere can feel stale simply because such a young team does not have generations of fans like the Dodgers or Yankees do. Nationals Park has its moments when you might not be on the edge of your seat from feeling the tension in the place, but at the end of the day is a beautiful park to see a baseball game.
Nationals Park is still my favorite of any ballpark. Great food options, easy access from the Metro, and overall friendly fans and staff bring this park to the next level. Fans can get a bit heated if the Mets or Phillies are in town. Only con is that there isn't much around.
As the neighbourhood around Nationals Park continues to evolve, this will become a premier destination. Both tickets and food are overpriced (a souvenir soda for $9?) which is a shame because there are some great offerings here. Smart fans can find deals like the designated driver (small soda) and free food outside the centerfield gate. The Navy Yard station can be extremely crowded after the game, but a mile north is Capitol South on the Blue Line, a nice walk if you attend an afternoon game. Lots of history on display, the Presidents on the concourse before the game, several good standing spots especially on the 300 level behind the plate, and friendly staff make this a good place to watch a game.
A very good park with few downsides.
1500 South Capitol St SE
Washington, DC 20003
300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20003
300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20074
1299 Half St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
100 M St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
1000 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20001