Thursday, August 23, 2007
New Nationals Park Update
Just over seven months and counting. Time is of the essence, if Our Washington Nationals are going to start the 2008 Baseball Season at New Nationals Park. With that in mind--it was time for a construction update on the New Ballyard being built on South Capitol Street. So, reaching out to the Construction Firms of Clark/Smoot/Hunt--The New Stadium Contractors--Smoot's Director Of Community Affairs & Business Development--Chrystal Stowe, willingly agreed to give The African Queen and I a tour. We met at The Construction Entrance--24 Potomac Avenue, SW. Handed Safety Helmets and Reflective Vests, we were off on our jaunt.
No doubt, more and more--This Giant Erector Set is looking like a Baseball Stadium. In fact, construction has advanced so far--the grading for the baseball diamond is currently being worked on the playing field. Much has been completed since my original tour last March and subsequent visits. Although, so much more needs to be accomplished.
The Main and Upper Level Concourses are basically complete. The Concourses are WIDE!!! From anywhere walking along the concourse--you could see the playing field. The Openness is such a drastic contrast to the narrow dinginess of RFK Stadium's Concourses. The Built in Food/Vendor Stands are being completed on the outer walls of the concourses--leaving the inner concourse ring open for viewing.
The Locker Rooms are taking shape. A Circular Design, with multiple offices and training rooms attached. Nothing was funnier than seeing these two beat up cheap press board lockers carrying the names of Ryan Zimmerman and Brian Schneider. Apparently, on a recent visit to the ballpark by the players--Schneider told the Construction Crews he would pay extra (JOKINGLY) for a larger locker. The Workers decided to have a good time with that comment--as you can see in the photos--Brian's locker is twice the size of Ryan's. Its funny.
The Gigantic HDTV Scoreboard Frame in Right Field is nearly finished.
The Centerfield Restaurant is taking shape. And, you can view where Our Washington Nationals are going to plant grass with a Curly "W" Design in centerfield. The Restaurant Outside Seating is the only seating in the ballpark which will be red in color.
And, of course--the main seats, blue seats, are being put in place--at a rate of 2,000 per week--along with the walk railings for the stairways to the seats. At the bottom of each aisle--the railing contains a plexiglass retainer wall to prevent anyone who might trip coming down the stairs--from falling over to the level below. But, just to be clear--that plexiglass panel is only in the front row of the walk aisle. It does not crossover to the first row seats of every deck. No one's seat is behind that clear 40" High Retainer Wall.
Enjoyable it was to view each and every blue seat having a Navy Curly "W" caste on its side frame. When you sit at New Nationals Park--you know who the Home Team is--Our Washington Nationals. Additionally, each seat is numbered with a Silver Baseball Plate that stands out against the Blue Seats. Very Nice actually, little touches that fans can appreciate.
Sohna and I found the seats comfortable. And, it was important to see how high the front row railing stood in relation to the seats. At RFK Stadium, the upper deck railings partially block your view in the first two rows. Being only 5' tall, Sohna found it no problem to see above the new railings. A Good Sign.
On the Main Concourse, we came across this Painting of Washington Senators Great--Walter Johnson--on a column. Chrystal informed us that this piece of art is a test. Apparently, throughout New Nationals Park--Columns will be dedicated to Former Washington Baseball Greats and DC's History in the Game. Honestly, this looked good. If every single column around the Main Concourse depicted this theme--it would LOOK TERRIFIC. I have NO DOUBT--many fans would enjoy these works. The Walter Johnson Artwork STOOD OUT--from a distance. The BEST SURPRISE OF THE ENTIRE TOUR.
Standing on The Club Level--the first row was slightly further back than the Mezzanine Level at RFK Stadium. Maybe 10 feet tops. Not much of a difference. Each subsequent Higher Deck was slightly set a few rows back of the level below. The Two Tiered Suite Level that surrounds the infield--places the Infield Terrace Deck Higher, but not necessarily farther away from the action on the field. That's a good thing. Standing on Club Level--back row--the overhang slightly blocks high popups from the last couple of rows. The HIGH DOLLAR Suites are also starting to shape.
At 1PM--The Sun was hanging up and behind the first base side of the stadium. The 3rd Base side was in the sun. We were not there long enough to get a sense of how The Sun will track during day games. Too bad--as its an important aspect to consider for any seating assignment during a typical Hot, Humid and Sunday Washington, DC Summer Day.
The Double Deck Stars & Stripes Club was very inviting. Glass Panels opened up the area out toward The Anacostia River. Nothing claustrophobic about this place. If the amenities are finished as planned--this Club, along with the promised Presidents Club are going to be FABULOUS. A Glass Enclosed Front for The Presidents Club looks out over the field. Construction was going on inside that part while we were there--so we could not view inside.
But, this Opportunity to tour The New Ballyard gave us the very first chance to walk up to each and every level of stadium. First Thought--and its a BIG ONE--THAT UPPER DECK IS STEEP!!! This Ballpark may well be smaller than RFK Stadium, and more compact--with the seats closer to the field, overlapping each other, But--when we stood on the UPPER DECK--Right Field--last row--looking toward Home Plate--it looked A MILE AWAY!! Maybe it was the OPENNESS that made the distance look vast. Wow!! I am going to have to walk up to The Yellow Seats at RFK in Right Field next home game to compare. As I haven't been up there much in 2007. Maybe it was a illusion--from sitting so close to the field in Section 320 at RFK Stadium. Really, I am not sure--but, nothing was more noiticeable in contrast--than that view. Being afraid of heights, Sohna was holding the railing tightly--walking up and down the aisles.
What I know will not be liked--is The Press Box by the Working Media. Easily, it sits at the highest point in the New Ballpark. Charlie & Dave, along with Bob and Don--are going to be looking straight down--overlooking the field. The Media is nowhere near as close to enjoying their placement, as well as, the friendly confines enjoyed at RFK Stadium. Being in The Media--I just know it--they are not going to like their view. The Entire Time The African Queen and I were up there--I could only think of that Bob Uecker Commercial with him sitting in the cheap seats. A Two Level Press Box with Camera Set Ups on top. The Camera angle could not be the best.
One thing good about that Press Box--Its Views of The Capitol Building, The Washington Monument and some of Our Nation's Capital's Finest places--could clearly be seen. Washington National Airport and The Washington National Cathedral--clean lines of sight. Just Terrific to see from that spot. A HIGHLIGHT OF THE TOUR.
The Home Dugout for Our Washington Nationals does not have the largest roof. It looked short--in comparison to others at newer ballparks--Interesting. It did not look wide enough, front to back, to handle The Nat Pack or Screech during Dugout Entertainment.
Other Pictures of Note:
The Right Field Wall where an HDTV Scoreboard is to be placed.
Our Washington Nationals Hot Tub Therapy Room. That Locker Room WAS HUGE!! Sohna and I LOVED THAT LOCKER ROOM!!
Service Walkway under the first base stands.
Computer Light Grids--Said Already To Be Set to Shine in the Exact Right Spot, the moment they are initially turned on.
The Faux Limestone. Looks Good.
And, The On Site Parking Decks, under construction.
I hope you enjoyed the PHOTO Tour. Chrystal Stowe, who was a nice lady and a fine hostess, has promised to invite us back, at a later date, to Update the Continuing Construction of New Nationals Park. Sure, I understand that not everyone will be pleased with the layout of the New Ballpark. Some will not like their seating assignments. Some will miss the convenience of RFK. But, I honestly got to tell you--New Nationals Park is shaping up nicely. This Ballpark will provide more entertainment than just the ballgame itself--far different than provided currently at RFK Stadium. As much as I LOVE THE OLD BALLYARD on East Capitol Street--I am looking forward to that very first game in April, 2008--on South Capitol Street.