Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ballpark review: New Nationals' Stadium

I know the trendy topic in the metsblogsphere at the moment is to discuss why it's not yet time to push the panic button on the poopy start of the season, but I'm still too hyped from the Giants Superbowl win to honestly get worked about about April baseball records (neener neener, Jets fans). Besides, I'd rather save my outrage for if and when the shit really collides with the ventilator.

In other news that I'd rather write about, I visited the new Nationals' ballpark (appropriately named Nationals Park) on Monday for the second regular season game ever played at the venue. The whole event was reasonably enjoyable, if for no other reason then that it complimented my trip to the second to last regular season game ever played at the old stadium with a pleasing symmetry.

The game itself was a complete turd. Both starting pitchers were gone by the 4th inning, though the presidents race was exciting. It was also colder than a witch's teton and the NCAA championship was on. But still, they were giving away free t-shirts in between innings, and I ALMOST got one!

Here are a couple of pictures from my shitty camera phone.

Not quite the same crowd as Opening Day (which some Nats fans seem to be really stressing about. Personally, I don't see the big deal, but that's probably because I don't give a shit about the Nats).

The most impressive feature about the place is the enormous HD center field screen, which is quite good at showing off Dmitri Young's enormous dome piece. Other than, it's your pretty standard $620 million stadium. I give it a B/B-.

The most obvious features about the place are it's overt mallparkification. The grass is neat and pretty and the outfield wall is angular and of varied heights, but with a different coat of paint the place could be any team's new stadium. The closest the place comes to identifying with Washington is a singular food stand named the Dupont Deli. Whatever the hell Dupont Circle has to do with a sandwich shop in a ballpark by the Anacostia is beyond me, but at least its something.

Hopefully CitiField will have a few more identifiable features besides a Playstation demo space, but I fear most of negative mallpark affects are unavoidable. Once you buy a ticket, you are a captive audience, and MLB will stop at nothing until all your monies are belong to them. If Mr. Fenway or Mr. Wrigley were able to conceive of and build such ruthlessly efficient money extracting contraptions I'm sure they would have too. It's not like baseball teams in the 1910's were charities.

It will also be interesting to see how the neighborhood around the stadium develops. Let's be clear though, that stadium will not HELP the area gentrify. If anything, the Navy Yard (or whatever they end up calling the place) is going to be developed DESPITE of the stadium. I'm too lazy to look up the economics (but here is a good place to start), but its just common sense that tells you baseball stadiums are horribly inefficient uses of space. And comparing this situation to Camden Yards is a horrible analogy. The Inner Harbour was already the central business district of Baltimore before they built Camden (or the Ravens Stadium for that matter). Furthermore, Federal Hill and the rest of the area was already getting redeveloped. Camden affected zero change to the neighborhood, except possibly boost some restaurant sales during some of the home games.

Anyway, point is, the area around Nats Park consists of cranes, new empty office buildings, and total shit. It be great if it become a hip place to be, but there's a lot working against it. The surrounding area is hemmed in by rivers, the actual Navy Yard and I-395. There's a reason the place was garbage dump before the Washington Nationals were even a glimmer in either Bud Selig and Anthony's Williams' equally beady eyes.

I think I've now sufficiently digressed to the point where I'm too bored with the topic to proof read for typos. Sorry so sloppy. To sum up, HOLY SHIT IS THAT FUCKING FRUIT PARFAIT?

1 comment:

rockyourface said...

I hope you scouted for good seats from which to heckle Churchey.