Friday, October 12, 2007

The Final Words With Stan Kasten

With great interest--I have read the many comments here on The Nats320 Blog concerning Team President Stan Kasten's comments regarding The Policy for bringing Foodstuffs and Water into New Nationals Park. Many are concerned that the policy in place at RFK Stadium for the past three seasons will not carryover to 2008.

Knowing how this particular issue is of major concern to fans--I reached out to Mr. Kasten to see if he might be able to clarify the situation. As always, he was agreeable and kindly updated me--on not only this issue but, two others as well. So, before the final installment of My Conversation with Stan Kasten begins--here are his answers to my followup questions.

Here we go:

You mentioned the policy most likely had not been changed concerning fans being allowed to bring foodstuffs and water into New Nationals Park. The same policy in effect at RFK for the past three seasons. Although, off the top of your head, you were not positive. If you can confirm no policy change--please let me know. Many are interested in this answer. MANY. It was chatted about all over yesterday. (SBF)

"Our current plan is to keep the food policy the same. Everything's subject to change. But that's the current thinking."

[SBF--I also want to add that earlier today it was mentioned by someone on another thread that the final policy decision on this issue "MAY" be the responsibility of The DC Government and the DC Sports & Entertainment Commission. It has been clearly stated to me, that The District Government, along with the DCSEC, is responsible for building New Nationals Park. Once it's completed and the "KEYS" are handed over to Our Washington Nationals--all control of the facility will also be handed over to The Team. That is why The Ushers for next season WILL NOT be DCSEC Employees. No longer will you see those Ushers wearing those Green Shirts with both The Nationals and DC United Logos on them. They will be Nationals Employees or Subcontractors. It's why Centerplate is the Concessionaire and Memorabilia Contractor. And, why CSC will continue to be the Security Force. All of whom, will answer to Our Washington Nationals. Not in any way--The District of Columbia Government.]

When Mr. Lerner was quoted as saying that New Nationals Park might not have a Sponsorship Name for 2008--does that potential short term loss of revenue--hurt your Big Picture Plans? Obviously, you would love to have it in place--but does it affect The Nationals overall work in developing? (SBF)

"The more revenue the better, obviously. But this is just one more area of uncertainty in the first year of a new ballpark. Both revenues and expenses are guesses, for now, and will be until we have a season under our belt. Having said all that, getting the right naming partner and the right deal is much more important than getting it done quickly. I think you'll agree our development plan has been progressing nicely, and I'm confident this will continue."

Two commenters mentioned something that I am not aware of--but it has drawn some serious interest. Is it true that The Nationals CAN NOT have a Radio Affiliate in Baltimore or near its surrounding environs? And, does the same hold true for any possible Nationals Minor League Affiliates in Maryland? These fans are under the impression The Orioles can have a DC Area Radio Station (WTEM) and have Virginia Affiliates (Norfolk). But, The Nationals are banned from doing the same in Maryland (ironically The Free State). Not sure if this is true, never really thought about it--but I am curious enough to ask. (SBF)

"We can have both a radio and minor league team in Maryland. You'll recall that in the past year, the O's moved a minor league affiliation into Virginia (Norfolk), and we moved a minor league affiliation into Maryland (Hagerstown). For the last few years, we've had a radio signal strong enough to reach well into Maryland, so it wasn't a big issue as a practical matter."

Hopefully, those remarks will help fill in the blanks for many fans who have read the comments over the past few days.

With that now out of the way, its time to finish My Conversation With Stan Kasten. There were a handful of issues that he and I chatted about that--just didn't really fit into the first two installments. Odds and Ends, that needed to be asked and Mr. Kasten was kind enough to answer.

Once again--here we go with The Conclusion:

There are a few friends of mine—whose kids come to the ballgames with them. They are hoping the new ballpark has kids oriented themes for diversions. Centerplate has told me they talked with The Nationals about these issues. Do you have any information about that? (SBF)

“We will have kids areas, and adult entertainment areas, as well, in the new park. That is something that is very important to me. Always has been and was a really important element in the other two venues I built (Turner Field, Phillips Arena). I don’t know when we are going to unveil those details. But, sometime this winter, we are going to be holding a Media Event—walking people through the many surprising new additions that are going to be taking place here (New Nationals Park).”

Any chance of Real Organ Music at the Ballpark—instead of canned music? (SBF)

“I have not talked about that issue with anyone in some time. It came up a couple of months ago, we kicked it around. Its not as simple as you think. Its finding out what works, then finding out what the program mix will be at the ballpark. I think at the moment, it’s not in the game plan. But, that could change.”

Near the end of the season, some folks were walking around RFK asking customers about their preferences for entertainment at the ballpark--marketing people with PDA's. Some mentioned that a FIFTH RACING PRESIDENT is going to be added for 2008. Can you confirm that? If so--any idea what President will be included? (SBF)

"Nothing to report on game entertainment for next year."

You mentioned earlier this season to me, there might be some slight uniform changes. Can you be specific what they are now? (SBF)

“There are NO uniform changes for next year—except for a special commemorative patch (for the new ballpark) and things like that for the new season. We are going to have changes in the BP (Batting Practice) Jersey. Or, maybe the Team Jacket—but they are very slight—things like that.”

Yeah, you mentioned BP Jersey and The Game Jacket before. I think that was it. (SBF)

“Yeah, I think that is correct. The uniform is going to stay the same.”

When I went to the New Ballpark last time, there was this very nice artist rendition of Walter Johnson on one of the columns there. Is that something that will be done throughout the new stadium? (SBF)

“Yes, we are going to have a series of those on all those poles (columns). It’s going to be quite interesting. Mark Lerner himself has spent hours and hours and hours on the artwork, the display and the look of the ballpark. He has a lot of expertise in that area from being involved in commercial spacing for his whole adult life. He has done a great job of really dressing the place up.”

How about your Cherry Trees idea—is that going to happen? (SBF)

“IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN (I could tell he was excited about the prospect). We are going to have them both, behind those left field seats and in the Entry Plaza. They have already been picked out and are growing in an orchard somewhere. We will bring them here sometime this winter.”

To bad they will not bloom during the season though? (SBF)

“No, actually, we think they will bloom for Opening Week. That is what our hope is. That is when they bloom in the rest of the town (DC). So, that would be good enough for us.” (SBF--hopefully that will also mean Our Washington Nationals will ALWAYS open the season at home)

Well, that would look nice—No Doubt. (SBF)

Finally, when do you think you will move into your new offices? (SBF)

“That might happen at the same time The New Stadium Opens (laughing—both of us). But, it really doesn’t matter. The last time I did this in Atlanta—we didn’t move in until Mid-Season. It couldn’t matter less. It’s a little tricky here because RFK is not next-door. But, that’s OK. Honestly, that’s the last thing that needs to get done, as far as I am concerned.”

With that, My Conversation With Stan Kasten comes to its Official Conclusion. Its important to understand his willingness to speak with me on the many issues the Mainstream Media usually has little interest in covering. Transportation, Parking, Seat Selection, Concessions, Uniforms, Schedule, In Game Entertainment --issues that can make or break whether ANY FAN will continue to support OUR TEAM. Concerns that are only written about in the paper, or shown on TV--if the world appears to be coming to an end--something being wrong. Believe me, I know--The Professional Media is MY PROFESSION. To his great credit, Mr. Kasten GETS IT. He understands that The NEEDS of The Media may well be far different than The Needs of Our Fans. Its a distinction that can not go unnoticed, or unappreciated.

As I mentioned to Mr. Kasten this morning: "This Forum that you have been kind enough to participate in, really helps many become more comfortable with the ever changing situation at hand. People don't feel lost, or left outside looking in. Never, can that be a bad thing."


mike edgar said...


I don't know whether you realize what a great service you provide to the rest of us fans who don't have the same access to the team that you've been able to cultivate. I truly appreciate the efforts you have made to get the information that many of us really want, but can't find in the "mainstream" media here in town. I look forward to reading your blog every day. Thanks!

An Briosca Mor said...

Since I think it was me who was speculating that it may be that the DC govt has the final call on the outside food issue, I'm glad to learn that I was wrong on that one. You know, I think there's a lot of speculation out there every time Stan Kasten is quoted on something - some of it malicious, some just confused. But like my speculation here, it usually ends up being wrong. Always good to get the word straight from the horse's mouth as you do, SBF. Thanks for that, and also for pursuing clarifications when necessary.

fav61 said...

Kudos go to you, SBF. Thanks to you and Stan for keeping us in the know!

Chris Needham said...

Thanks for checking into the food thing. His answer still doesn't fill me with confidence, but at least he said it more directly this time.

Anonymous said...

This is just wonderful. As a long-time reader (during the season, reading your site is part of my daily routine) but first time commentator, I did want to echo what Mike Edgar said. Both you (SBF) and Kasten get lots of credit and thanks for this. You for your always insightful commentary on the team from the fan perspective, and Kasten for using this new medium for reaching out directly to the fans. Thanks to both of you.

VCUKyle said...

Thanks so much SBF and Mr. Kasten for keeping us Fans in the loop so we know whats going on!!!!

Im excited and Cant Wait till SPRING TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!


Edward J. Cunningham said...

Since the ushers at Nationals Park will be working directly for the Nationals, I hope that many of them will be the same ones I have seen at RFK Stadium, because overall I have been impressed with their work in general, and there are few in particular I am VERY impressed with. I'm sure Stan knows who the good apples are...

Anonymous said...

SBF, Thanks for the great service you're providing to the fans. How about asking Stan if you can do this monthly. We're not getting info from other sources. I think you hit it dead on by noting how you provide a fan's perspective.

The Nats need to do a better job exciting the fan base. For example, when will we see a link on the Nationals web site for Spring Training? Why don't they publish a monthly update for fans wanting to know where we stand with relocations, the stadium/parking, cool things to expect at the new stadium, etc? Why not give us some hints on events scheduled during the winter like a Fanfest? This is all stuff you bring up but the Nats don't seem to have a clue that they should be telling us. Again, thanks for the service you're providing to Nats Nation!

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Speaking of spring training, maybe it's too early for this since the Nationals franchise is so new to Washington, but maybe the Nats could plan a Nats Fantasy Camp? I know they probably cannot get Frank Howard, but I think even ex-Expos or other MLBers with ties to the DC area could work. What do you guys think?

paul said...

"adult entertainment" areas? Now that will put fannies in the stadium!

6th and D said...

Stan still did not fully answer your question about radio stations. My family and I vacation each year near Cape Hatteras. Some nights we were able to pick up WWWT (3WT) to hear the Nats broadcasts. Other nights, the radio gods shifted wave propigation so that 3WT could not be heard. Guess what we did hear - Loud and Clear from Norfolk? Orioles broadcasts - that's what! Another note, my wife and I spent a weekend in Ocean City toward the end of the summer, and guess what? No Nats broadcast. This is crazy. I remember fondly that when I was a kid vacationing at OC one could hear Senator's, Orioles, and Phillies broadcasts at the beach. I don't want to wish anyone ill, but I wish that toad up in Charm City would go sit on another lilly-pad.

SenatorNat said...

Great series, per usual, SBF, albeit your day job is beginning to interfere with this work, which is more spiritual indeed for us Nats-fanatics!!

Kasten is just a superb communicator, and you ask ALL the right questions, and he seems to intellectually enjoy the discourse - the mark of a great interviewer.

A few random comments:

He prefers the trade route to buying over-priced free agents: sensible, but it leaves the Nats with the predicament of trading a lot of mediocre players for a lot of new mediocre players. The break-out and up moves come from the farm and from select free agents - the latter even when they do not constitute the Final Pieces.

I hope that our three statutes, which, as you know, I have pressed for since 2005 with some powers that be, are life-sized, or slightly larger: the Larger than Life are too exagerated, in my view, even scary for kids.

The 15,000 base season ticket holders from 2007 should not be that difficult to map over, it would seem, to a new park with essentially the equivalent or greater number of quality seats.

I suggest that you recommend to Stan that the Nationals set-up an Exchange for those assigned, whereby individuals can go on line, offer to swap, and lock in with the Nationals the exchange. Cuts out the middle man, and a sense of useless frustration.

It would appear that they shall be lucky to break 20,000 plateau for full season ticket plans for 2008 - unspoken, but that would be a 33% increase over the 15,000 from 2007...Everyone is freaked over parking, and I bet it turns out O.K. or even better than O.K. Hope so.

"Picture yourself on a boat on the river...(and no toads from Crabtown nearby on lilly pads, either!)"

Trust in Kasten. And his pal, SBF.