Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Kastles Stadium at Union Market
1309 5th Street NE Washington, DC 20002
Year Opened: 2019
Kastle In The Sky
The Washington Kastles are a team in World TeamTennis (WTT), a tennis circuit that runs for approximately three weeks every summer. WTT employs some different rules from the tennis you’d see on the ATP or WTA Tour. Each match consists of five sets which are five different types of play – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. All sets are to five games with a best-of-nine point tiebreak at 4-4. The winner is whichever team wins the most games over the five sets. Lets are playable (and may be played by either partner in doubles) and all calls except foot faults are made electronically by the Hawk-Eye system.
As for the Kastles, they previously played at the Charles E. Smith Center, which is also the home of George Washington University basketball, as well as a couple temporary facilities around the city. However, in 2019, the team moved to a brand-new stadium on the roof of Union Market. The team sold out every game this 2019 season in the new, more intimate environment, and it has been a huge success.
Food & Beverage 5
The concession situation is a bit unusual here. The stadium is on the roof of Union Market, and your best bet is to head there to grab something to eat before heading upstairs to your seat. There are too many options to list in this article, but they include everything from arepas to pizza to Korean tacos to Ethiopian food to an old-fashioned New York-style soda shop. All food and beverage except alcohol may be taken into the stadium, and many fans will opt to do this.
If you must buy something after you get upstairs, there is one stand behind the grandstand that offers select items from Union Market. However, the selection is much more limited and more expensive than it is downstairs. Beer is available for $8, wine for $9, and cocktails for $12, and these must be purchased upstairs if you want alcohol. Water and lemonade are available for $4 each.
As the emcee put it, this isn’t Wimbledon, it’s World TeamTennis. While traditional tennis tournaments are quiet, subdued affairs with polite clapping, the atmosphere at a WTT match is more comparable to other professional sports in the United States. The team encourages fans to be as loud as possible in between points, with music and cheers played over the PA system as well.
The stadium itself is quite small, only 700 seats, and most of the seats consist of folding chairs arranged in rows. There is one small scoreboard behind one of the baselines, but fans sitting on that side have no way of knowing the score except for keeping track of it in their heads and listening for the occasional announcement.
Union Market is located in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, D.C., which stands for “North of Massachusetts. ” Although this wasn’t always the nicest neighborhood, it has improved a lot in the last few years and is perfectly safe. The main attraction is Union Market, located right underneath the stadium.
There are also many other attractions throughout D.C., including many monuments, memorials, and museums. All of the government-run attractions are free, though some of the private ones are not. Just keep in mind if you want to tour the White House or Capitol, you will need to book in advance.
Every Kastles game has been a sellout this year, and these fans aren’t the kind of crowd you’d get at a typical tennis match. They are raucous, rowdy, and always ready to cheer on their Kastles throughout the match. They stay until the end, and seem knowledgeable about the team, the sport, the league, and all its quirks. If you’re expecting typical tennis fans, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise, but if you’re looking for a crowd like other professional sports, you’ll find it here.
Union Market is located only a few blocks from the NoMa-Gallaudet station on the Red Line of the Washington Metro. While this may seem convenient, keep in mind Metro is constantly doing construction and track work so expect delays if you choose to go this way. Check the WMATA website to make sure no stations you use will be closed. If coming from the suburbs, you can park at a Metro station in Maryland or Northern Virginia. Parking ranges from $3 to $6 depending on the station and is free on weekends. There is also a lot right next to the stadium, but this serves all of Union Market and parking can be a challenge.
Once you arrive at the stadium, use the entrance at 6th and Penn Streets. Once you scan your ticket and go through security, you will be able to take an elevator or stairs up to the roof to access the stadium. Restrooms are located on the second floor, and are also accessible in the same way.
Return on Investment 1
The cheapest tickets range from $60 to $90 depending on the night and go up to over $150. This is by far the most expensive ticket in WTT. Tickets also sell out very quickly due to the small size of the venue, so don’t expect to wait until the last minute. While it is understandable that tickets are in high demand due to the small size of the venue, these prices are a bit ridiculous.
There are free programs available at the entrance. Children 16 and under can get autographs from the Kastles and their opponents after every home game, and children 12 and under can get a free tennis racket at the entrance once per season. Two more stars for the unusual rooftop setting and the wide range of amenities at Union Market.
Kastles Stadium at Union Market is certainly unique, on many levels. First, there’s the uniqueness of World TeamTennis itself, and then there’s the idea of having a tennis stadium on the rooftop of a market. It’s certainly an unusual place. It is unfortunate that the ticket prices are so high, but other than that, Kastles Stadium at Union Market is a top experience not to be missed.