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.