Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nationals Opener Hardly Worth the Wait, Money

If you've read the blog for a while, you know that I am a pretty big baseball fan. Growing up in Richmond, I was a Braves fan as a child. But, ever since the Nationals came to DC in 2005 I have been a big supporter of our team, even buying multiple game ticket plans the last three years.

Not this year. The opening game was really sad. The 11-1 loss, I can take that. The team has lost over 200 games in the last two seasons, so losing is pretty much a way of life for the foreseeable future. Some teams' fans have endured decades of losing. Even President Obama showed us up wearing a White Sox hat while throwing the first pitch. OK, he is the President, so he gets a lot of latitude.

At 41,290 in paid attendance, the game was a sellout. But the stadium was filled with Philadelphia fans. I don't mean just Phila fans who live in DC. It's normal to have the other city's ex-pats at Nats games; that's how it is in DC. But, literally, thousands of fans came down from Philadelphia, possibly with help from Nats sales staff and policies.

The Phillies fans relentlessly booed the Nationals and cheered the Phils, naturally. Nationals fans a) hardly had anything to cheer for, and b) were literally outnumbered in some sections 2:1 by Phillies fans. What good is it spending my money to attend a game in which I can't even cheer for the hometown team. It is no good. Not worth the wait or dollar. I know a team wants to sell tickets and make a profit, but could the Nationals please be a better partner to the city?

I mean, really Nationals? Really? You were that hard up for ticket sales? I know DC residents who could not get tickets through the normal routes (buying online, day-of $5 seats). So there was still demand in DC. Even if there weren't even one more Nats fan who wanted to buy a ticket, the team couldn't give some tickets to local non profits to distribute to youth? Heck, not even the youth (it was a 1:00pm game!); just any DC fan interested in going. So sad. It can not be overstated: WE; yes, WE built a stadium for use of the team, a private entity. WE paid for the cost overruns, and WE, citizens of DC, put up with the team when they refused to pay rent in 2008.

I am biased because I love baseball so much, yes. And I support the team and think they will be good one day. A better team will make it easier to sell more seats in DC. But, opening day illustrated how bad a corporate citizen the team can be at times. Take the dollar, any dollar. Might as well be the Phila Nationals, or Boston, or New York. If they want to make it here, they'll have to try a lot harder, on the field and in the front office.