Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29
Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy 3675 Ely Pl SE Washington, DC 20019
Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 250
Located in Southeast Washington, DC, the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy opened in 2014 and is a complex consisting of three fields. The main, larger baseball field plays host to several areas high school and college teams as well as the summer-collegiate DC Grays of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.
There is also a softball field, used by high school, college, and youth teams, and a youth baseball field. The complex was built to serve DC’s underprivileged neighborhoods and provide a place for area children to study and play baseball after school. One of the college teams that call the softball field home is the Georgetown Hoyas. Although the Georgetown campus is across town, the Hoyas play their home games here. Hoya softball has not enjoyed much success over the years – they are one of just two current Big East members never to win the conference tournament.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a concession stand at the Nationals Youth Academy, located behind the softball field in between it and the main baseball field. The only real meal options are hot dogs and nachos, but you can also get hot pretzels and many assorted snacks, plus various sodas, Gatorade, and bottled water. Prices are affordable, with nothing costing more than a few dollars. Fans can also bring in their food.
Although the main baseball field is much more elaborate, the softball field at the Nationals Youth Academy has a very basic setup. There are two small sets of metal bleachers similar to what you’d see at a little league field. They’re exactly like what you’d see at a little league field because this field is also used by youth players so that’s exactly what it is other than slight variations in the dimensions of the playing field at the college level.
The bleachers are separated from the action by a thick backstop that makes it hard to see what is going on. Fans can also stand behind home plate or bring their chairs. There is a scoreboard in the right-centerfield that shows the linescore. An overhang is just up a flight of steps from the concourse and some fans like to hang out here before the game, but you can also watch the game from here if you prefer. Music is played between batters and innings but this is a very basic experience.
Although many parts of D.C. are great, the Nationals Youth Academy is not located in the best neighborhood. This choice of location makes some sense, as the complex was intended to help inner-city children play baseball. The area directly around the stadium is safe enough, but as always in an urban environment, be aware of what is going on around you. You probably don’t want to venture too far away from the stadium though. Many more options are available downtown, but unless you want to drive down there and try to find parking, you’re probably going to have to take an Uber or Lyft.
The vast majority of the fans in attendance at Hoyas games are friends or family members of the players, or the opposing team. Occasionally, they will run buses to bring students from campus which does help some, but when students can’t really just walk right to the stadium, that significantly hurts their attendance. Occasionally you’ll get someone bored of watching their brother’s little League game wander over from the neighboring field, but that’s about it.
Georgetown Hoyas Softball Player Banners, Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
The Nationals Youth Academy is conveniently located a short drive off either I-395 or DC Route 295 (which is the only “state” highway in the District of Columbia.) Parking is available for free in the complex lot. Unfortunately, the Academy is not easily accessible by any D.C. Metro line, but free parking is a rarity in this city so take it where you can get it. The concourses are more than wide enough to accommodate the crowds. The restrooms are of sufficient size as well.
Return on Investment 4
Admission is free to Hoyas softball games and concessions are affordable, but there isn’t enough here to earn the top score.
There are batting cages located down by the main baseball field where fans can watch the Hoyas and their opponents (plus whoever else happens to be using the complex that day) take some swings before the game.
College softball is just not that big in the northeast. Lacrosse is the only spring sport that matters here. Georgetown does not even have its softball stadium and is forced to play its home games in a youth complex at what is essentially a Little League field with the dimensions rearranged slightly. Even by regional standards, they probably deserve better than that. Still, the Washington Nationals Youth Academy is a nice complex, even if it doesn’t seem like the best place for a Division I softball program to be playing, and a trip to a Hoyas game here can be a nice way to spend an afternoon.