Thursday, October 04, 2007

Its Gotta Be Convenient


No matter what your opinion of RFK Stadium's Amenities as a Ballpark--you could never say The Old Ballyard was not convenient to get to. Whether by Car or Metro Train; whether you live in Maryland, Virginia or The District; whether you came early or late--there's nothing more convenient than heading into or out of 2400 East Capitol Street.

Convenience, that is currently not in the vocabulary when discussing The Parking and Transportation Situation currently being worked out for New Nationals Park.

What We Do Know:

1,225 Permanent Garage Parking Spots on Site--assured. Few of which will, most likely, be used by you or I. Club Officials, Players, Presidents Club, Diamond Club and other High Rollers have first dibs on those spots.

The District of Columbia, along with The Nationals have received temporary approval for 3,775 Temporary Surface Spots at locations to be determined or negotiated. All of which have not been completed, assured, or in one case--(The Department of Transportation's Building with a 800 spot garage) denied.

The Upgrade to The Navy Yard Metro Stop--which will allow 15,000 patrons per hour to move through the station--so fans can go to and from New Nationals Park--is Seven Weeks Behind Schedule.

Restricted Parking, and in some cases--completely Closed Streets around The Ballpark District on Game Days--Due to concerns of Home Owners in the area--not willing to put up with the constant battling for parking spots on their own streets when Our Washington Nationals are playing. A legitimate concern.

In a Questionnaire sent to Season Ticket Holders of Our Washington Nationals--questions concerning whether "FREE" Parking & Shuttle from RFK Stadium would work. The Team claiming The Shuttle would take only 7 Minutes from RFK to New Nationals Park or From The New Stadium back to RFK after any game.

And, The DC Sports & Entertainment Commission and Our Washington Nationals are deliberating over The DCSEC wanting to charge $5 for any car parked at RFK Stadium Lots--over 1,000 in number. A Surcharge, The Nationals do not wish to have ANYONE PAY.

So, in simple terms--its sort of a mess right now.


Because--everyone involved seems to deny the fact that most Weekday Home Games for Our Washington Nationals will begin as Rush Hour Winds Down. Afternoon Weekday Getaway Games--will end AT THE HEIGHT OF RUSH HOUR. Considering many fans start heading for the ballpark much sooner than any 7:05PM start--its seems pretty optomistic to believe The Crush of Cars on the SE/SW Freeway and South Capitol Street--heading to The Douglas Bridge, as well as the many area cross streets, will not hinder each other--even if patrons HAVE A Parking Spot near New Nationals Park. And, will not the "Free Shuttle" get caught up in that mess? Especially--leaving the ballpark for RFK after any game?

Because--you have The Federal Government, The District of Columbia Government and Our Washington Nationals all looking to protect their own interests. Reminds me of Metro and 8 different jurisdictions controlling each others fate. Its one of the major reasons--Metro can be such a disheartening commuter experience. Everyone is out for themselves--without looking at the Big Picture for EVERYONE.

Because RFK Stadium has 10,000 Parking Spaces. And, Only 5,000 Potential Parking spots are even realized at this point around The South Capitol Street location--less than six months before The First Scheduled Ballgame at New Nationals Park.


Because--The Navy Yard Metro Renovation--so crucial to the success of moving fans in and out of the ballpark--may not be ready for Prime Time come March 30, 2008.

And, finally because--Come Opening Day or Night--EVERY SINGLE FAN is going to be going out for Themselves to find out what works for them. The Transportation and Parking Needs, whether everything is ready or not--will be a work in progress until each and every Fan of Our Washington Nationals becomes comfortable with their own commute. Not everybody elses.

Only then--will everything settle down.

For the past three seasons of baseball in The Nation's Capital--The African Queen and I have used a combination of Driving to Lot 8 or taking The Metro. On days we work--its always Metro. All other times--Our Car. We have always preferred driving--as its far quicker than Metro--especially after any game. Officials at Metro did a decent job of moving fans out of The Stadium Armory Station upon completion of each and every Home Game at RFK. The problem we continually had with commuting on rail--was transferring. We live in Alexandria, from the Stadium Armory Stop--we needed to transfer at L'Enfant Plaza Station. Many times--the wait for a Yellow Line Train to Huntington was more than 16 to 20 Minutes. Far too long. Time that could have been saved, if and only if--A Blue Line Train was first boarded by us at Stadium-Armory. A longer commute home, but slightly shorter by a few minutes--in the long run. A situation we had no control over. A Guessing Game--which was always at hand--and not appreciated. Its why--if driving was an option--we drove to RFK.


For New Nationals Park--GETTING to ANY GAME should not be a Major Problem on Metro. The Load of Fans arriving is usually spread out enough to make any such effort workable--even during a Rush Hour. But, going home from South Capitol Street is fixing to be a real problem. If both Our Washington Nationals and District Officials are expecting 50% of ANY CROWD at New Nationals Park to take Metro--how is everybody possibly handled for a Sell Out Crowd? Half of 41,000 is 20,500. The New Navy Yard Station being rebuilt can ONLY handle a capacity of 15,000 per hour. That's a mighty long wait--to potentially even GET ON A TRAIN at New Nationals Park.

Some fans currently leave after the 7th inning during most Home Games. Are we now going to see fans show up in 4th and leave in the 6th--just to get home at a timely hour? Makes The Home Field Advantage of playing before your own fans--less of an edge.

Then, once you board--L'Enfant Plaza Station will be equally JAMMED. Metro MUST RUN EXTRA CARS on the Blue, Yellow & Orange Lines, as well as--The Green Line which passes through Navy Yard Station. 2,000 folks standing on the platform at L'Enfant Plaza waiting to transfer--is a HUGE ACCIDENT waiting to happen. The Pushing and Shoving could be BRUTAL. A Situation that may cause many to look for the only alternative--DRIVING--thus jamming up the roads, even more.

As far as The Shuttle from RFK Stadium is concerned, Sohna and I are not interested. Many times that option will find us fighting traffic on the SE/SW Freeway just to get to RFK Stadium. Then, wait for anyone's guess, for so many minutes just to catch the shuttle and possibly fight traffic--again--just to reach New Nationals Park. The Return after any game's conclusion--most likely a dreaded event. You just want to go home, especially after a long game. Another 15-20 Minutes to reach your car--not something to look forward to, late at night.

Really, Its a NO WIN Situation--unless EVERYBODY starts seeing the light. And, no--I don't blame Our Washington Nationals for the possible frustration at hand for Our Fans. They were not involved in the Original Deal, The District Of Columbia Government was--with Major League Baseball. Its DC's responsibility to make it work. Something, I am sure--many fans out there--have no faith in seeing accomplished.

Eventually--over a period of time--the Parking and Transportation needs for New Nationals Park will settle down. But, that will only occur--when traveling to and from South Capitol Street is convenient--for The Masses.

Makes me already long for Tailgating, Lot 8 and sitting in Section 320 at RFK Stadium. Honestly, I would have been comfortable sitting there watching Our Washington Nationals--Forever. But, that's just me.

22 comments:

Edward J. Cunningham said...

There are many articles about the parking situation with the Nationals. Yours is one of the best, and although I wish things could be better, thank you very much for writing this.

One of the reasons why the Metro renovation is behind schedule is that the developer in charge of expanding the station expected Metro to sell them their bus garage which is in the area. Metro sold it to another bidder, and in retaliation Monument Realty (I think that is their name) has retaliated by saying they were deliberately slowing down their work at the Navy Yards Metro Station. Have you heard anything more about this?

Fav61 said...

I hear you SBF. It is a big concern, but like you said - everyone will figure out what works for them. Maybe some will choose to walk from other nearby Metro stops or those who work downtown could walk to weekday games from locales that weren't too far a walk, etc. - something that couldn't be done from downtown to RFK. Have they announced how they would plan to get traffic from the RFK lots to S. Capitol Street in only 7 minutes? If truly 7 minutes that wouldn't be too bad, but I definitely agree that weekday afternoon games would cut out that option. We shall see how the 3775 temporary spot deal works as well, i.e., where will they be located, how convenient to get in and out of, etc. Should be an interesting first few weeks at the new ballyard!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie Cunningham: Yes, Monument has reportedly suggested they would "Slow Down" the Navy Yard Construction for not getting The Bus Garage. JDland.com has a complete rundown of everything. She does a FABULOUS JOB on covering all aspect of New Nationals Park. You can link from The Nats320 sidebar or--

At this link: http://www.jdland.com/dc/stadium-parking.cfm?tab=news

fav61--on the shuttle, the only word is that it will run on BACK ROADS. Other than that--no further details.

Anonymous said...

I keep on hearing about the bus to RFK parking lots, but it would be great to having buses to other spots too...

I would also love to see a Circulator bus or some other public transporation option that goes to Eastern Market and the restaurants/bars on 8th street. One of the advantages of the New Nationals Park is its proximity to Capitol Hill and the businesses that are already open.

Has anyone heard of buses to the Market or Chinatown?

Brandon said...

Yes, this is going to be a debacle. It's great that the city wanted the stadium to turn around a "blighted" area, but part of the reason that it was blighted to begin with is its location.

The stadium is off the major arteries of the city. It's not exactly right off 395. The Navy Yard station is not a transfer point and, let's face it, most Nats fans come from the Yellow, Blue or Orange lines, not the Green. Get ready for long, sweaty nights waiting for 20 minutes at L'Enfant.

The RFK parking/bus thing just isn't viable and is really kind of a ridiculous suggestion if you think about it.

We can't discount the power of the capitalist system here. Local business owners will be more than willing to rent out their parking spots for $20 per car on game nights. There may not be a giant, cohesive parking lot, but you can bet that there will be pockets of parking all over the place. It will cost you an arm and a leg, but that's a different story.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

One more thing I should point out. When the Senators moved to Dallas/Fort Worth, they became the first team in the history of major league baseball to draw FEWER fans in its first year in a new city than the previous city before they moved.

At another time, I would use this to say that Rangers fans did not deserve to steal our team. However, one of the reason why the 1972 Rangers drew so few fans was that the freeway between Dallas and Fort Worth which fans had to take to get to Arlington Stadium was being renovated, so it was real difficult to get to Rangers games that first year.

Eventually, things worked themselves out for the Rangers, and I'm sure the will for the Nats. I don't think most people blame Rangers fans for Washington's baseball loss. To tell the truth, I was impressed with how Rangers fans did NOT troll our MLB message boards after we lost the series to them in Arlington our inauguaral year in Washington.

paul said...

Ah, $20 for parking will be a BARGAIN, my friend.

On another subject, it is past midnight, and the Cubs game is in the 5th inning. Time for bed. (Is George Will still awake?)

janet said...

I guess I'm among those starting to think about what may work for me. I know the N22 bus goes from my office to Navy Yard every 15 minutes or so until about 6:30pm, so that should get me to the park from work.

Since I live off the orange line, I'll probably consider walking to Capitol South to catch the subway after the games. It's probably no farther for me than walking to Capitol South to get to RFK, which has gone pretty smoothly. I know the capacity at Capitol South won't match Navy Yard, but it may take some of the burden off of it.

I'm sure there will be things I miss about RFK as we move to the new ballpark, and my routine for getting to the ballpark will definitely change. But after three years of trying to put my drink somewhere I won't kick it or lose it while I'm juggling a camera and scorebook, having to squint to read the scoreboard without binoculars, moving my bag out of the way of spilled pepsi and beer and moving my skirt out of the way of the person in the next seat, I'm *really* looking forward to dealing with different problems at the new ballpark.

An Briosca Mor said...

I think the key to the whole "use Metro" option not being a debacle until the ballpark district and all the associated parking is built out and fully in place (which probably won't happen during the 2008 season) is to lessen the crunch at transfer points such as L'Enfant Plaza. Being on a packed train is not a lot of fun, but at least it's moving and you are getting home. Having to stand on a packed platform waiting forever for a train is what will turn people off to using Metro. I live right near Dunn Loring near the end of the Orange Line and am already planning to avoid the transfer at L'Enfant by walking to Capitol South to catch the Orangle Line directly. It's about a 15 minute walk, but if it saves me having to wait around for that long at L'Enfant to change trains, it's worth it. I know this walk might be a bit far for some people, but on the other hand there might be many others who would consider doing it, but aren't aware that the option even exists because they're basically unfamiliar with the Metro system.

My point, I guess, is that the Nationals could (and should) be doing more than just continuing to stress that fans will need to use Metro to get to the new park. They need to publicize ways that people living in various areas can "game" the Metro system to avoid the choke points at places like L'Enfant Plaza. The walk to Capitol South is one such way to "game" the system (perhaps the Nats might even consider running shuttles there, and also to Union Station so fans can get directly on the Red Line), and I'm sure that for other areas there are other ways to do the same type of thing. For instance, it occurs to me that fans living in DC or Maryland who might look at a Metro map and think they have to take the Red Line and transfer to Green to get to the park could instead utilize the parking options around the Verizon Center and then get on the Green Line directly at Gallery Place or Mt. Vernon Square and take that straight to the park.

The Nationals really should be taking the lead in researching and publicizing these and other transportation options involving Metro, because if they did it might ease a lot of people's minds and help avert a transportation debacle next April. They really shouldn't have to be doing this, because Metro ought to be doing it (but they won't) and so should the Washington Post (but they won't either - although maybe Dr. Gridlock might consider it). SBF, you have connections with top Nats brass. I know they are working like crazy to uncover parking and let STHers know about the options for driving, but are they also working to uncover all the possible ways to take Metro at least part of the way to the game, and let STHers and casual fans as well know what those options are? If they are, great. But if not, maybe you could suggest to them that they really need to be doing this.

6th and D said...

I've said this often in the Nationals Journal and sent several E-mails to the Mayor and to the Nats. It is approximately 600meters from Poplar Point along Anacostia Drive, SE to the O Street, SE entrance to Nats Park. Poplar point is bordered on one side by I-295 (look at Google Maps). This is the location where the soccer team had hoped the city would build them a soccer only facility. That still may be true, but I see exponential parking potential (again, look at google maps). We are talking easy access, easy exit - just like at RFK.

Here's the caviat. The city would need to build a pedestrian bridge over the Anacostia River. It could parallel the Douglas Bridge. Park at Poplar Point and walk to the stadium over the bridge. These types of bridges are popular in Europe and are often called foot bridges, pedways, skyways, and pedestrian overpasses. Construction is historically much faster than the construction of a bridge carrying automobiles or trains. They are much much much cheaper to build.

I may be out of my mind, but this seems like the perfect solution.

Anonymous said...

Love the ped bridge idea. And let me add to the potential "out of my mind" options. Some articles in the Post etc have mentioned ferries. I live in Alexandria too and man that would be ideal. It's something I'd gladly pay for too—a pleasant half-hour ride on a summer day/evening. In theory, you could run a series of boats from Old Town, Dangerfield Island, National Harbor, Georgetown, etc.

Tim Bilbro said...

Years ago my wife and I went to Atlanta Fulton Co. stadium for a Braves game. We were tourists and actually walked to the park. Afterwards, we were told to take a bus outside the stadium to the MARTA. We were skeptical. But, after the game, there were dozens of charter buses lined up just outside the gate. We loaded in and a soon as the bus was full, we shot off to the MARTA. It was totally free. So, a shuttle service can work if it is properly organized. Kasten may have been part of the Braves org back then, too.

Anyway, just a thought. I think the idea of buses is best. If they have buses that run frequently enough it can work. A series of buses lined up at Metro stations throughout the system is a nice work around. I think it will work itself out over time. Everyone will have to be patient.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

6th and D's suggestion is excellent. The only problem is that I don't know if the same people who killed off the soccer stadium proposal will want a parking lot there. If there is a pedestrian bridge, it could be named after Josh Gibson and/or Walter Johnson...

fav61 said...

Having lived in Pittsburgh, the pedestrian traffic over the bridges from downtown to PNC Park and Heinz Field is a very common and convenient way to get to the stadiums. But of course, those bridges are already built!

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I have some bad news which I hope is not true. Remember how everyone celebrated when it was announced that the Orioles baseball store at Farragut Square was closing? Apparently it never got around to closing and somebody posted on the Nats MLB board that the people there say the store is just being remodeled.

Meanwhile the Nats store at White Flint Mall has closed, and the Nats team store at RFK Stadium will be supposedly replaced by a general purpose Modell's at Nationals Park.

Pardon me while I throw up...

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Oh, and here is technically some bad news from the team's standpoint but good news from mine. The Nats are having a bit of trouble selling the naming rights to the new stadium, so it is likely to remain "Nationals Park" for th 2008 season.

*sigh* Is it too much for me to hope that the Lerners would follow the example of not only the Yankees, the Angels, but the former Senators (the Rangers) and NOT sell the naming rights at all? I would really prefer "Nationals Park" to "GEICO Park".

P.S. I'm not a Ravens fan, but if it were up to me, "M&T Bank Stadium" would be renamed "John Unitas Stadium at Camden Yards".

paul said...

Do the suits at all these institutions of usury realize that NO ONE (except STH's) knows what the stadiums' official names are? Glad to hear the Geico gecko won't be slithering around the new stadium. Would he be challenging Screetch to a duel or vying for our moderator's affections?

I liked the Indians' home field advantage tonight, sort of a prequel to Seinfeld's bee movie.

janet said...

I'm with ABM on the making the suggestion to the Nats FO and brass to take the lead on exploring and publicizing specific options for making use of Metro. If shuttles or other alternatives are expected to be part of the routine next season, we'll need specific details on that as well, or at least we'll need to know that the details *will* be out before we need to use them.

FWIW, I've had good experiences with shuttle buses in Quebec City attending a fireworks festival about 5 miles out. The message is "don't even think about driving", and the alternatives are described in all publicity for the event. The buses stops and buses from various points around the city to Montmorency Falls are clearly marked. They go to the staging area at Montmorency Falls, and the spot for each route is marked, a lot like slug line destinations work here.

Obviously, there was a lot of ground work involved in establishing the alternatives and publicizing them, but I was very impressed with how smoothly the transportation worked. Even tourists with no knowledge of the city at all were able to see the line for the shuttle and join in --the questions about tickets, rest rooms, concessions and so forth were anticipated, and staff were prepared to handle them.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I notice that on Opening Day and other games where large crowds were expected, the city ran special buses that took fans to Metro Center. Similar buses could take fans to nearby Metro Stations on the Red, Blue, and Orange lines to lessen the strain at Navy Yards and L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station.

mike edgar said...

My nephew and I took the Metro today down to the Capitol South station to see what the walk would be like to Nationals Park. I am happy to report that it was a very easy and pleasant 15-minute walk. For folks like me who live along the Orange line, this seems to be a much better alternative to changing trains at L'Enfant Plaza to the Green line heading to the Navy Yard station. And, in particular, it will be a better option than fighting the large crowd after a game trying to get on at Navy Yard.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Mike Edgar--That's good info that many will be interested in knowing. Thanks for the effort and passing your thoughts along. I would imagine that a few hundred might well be walking with you after games. I have also wondered if others might park at Anacostia Station Metro Lot and make the quick trip over to Navy Yard.

rickhodgens said...

Thanks to all for alot of good information and good ideas. I had the pleasure of attending my first Nat's game at the new stadium a week ago. As suggested my girl friend and I used Metro.

The amount of time that the trip took was not bad however the crush of humanity was far worse than anything I've experienced at rush hour. A little too close for comfort for me. I know about the RFK option and will try it. Does anyone know if charter bus service is available in the Vienna VA area?