Wednesday, October 24, 2007

OK--Let's Go Over This Parking Thing Again

Whether Our Washington Nationals jumped the gun on announcing the "Free" Shuttle from RFK Stadium to New Nationals Park is not the point. What matters is that David Nakamura's Story in The Washington Post has journalistic value. If the announcement is Not True--Fans need to be informed. But, the work of Nakamura's colleague--Marc Fisher is quite to the contrary.

In his "Raw Fisher" column today--Marc rightly points out that The Federal Government is refusing use of the nearby Department Of Transportation Building as a parking venue for New Nationals Park--due to their bogus "SECURITY" issues. At the same time--The Navy Yard Metro Expansion Project is still seven weeks behind schedule. An issue that revolves around Metro and another developer having a spat. Both of which, hinder the parking and transportation needs for New Nationals Park.

Yet, that's where Fisher's commentary goes off on a tangent. The last time I checked--The District of Columbia, along with Major League Baseball, determined the deal for building the new ballpark in its current location on South Capitol Street. Nobody else. From day one--many watching, understood the challenged parking and transportation needs for this new environment.

Despite all that, and then some--everyone surely remembers the political wrangling over the stadium--The District of Columbia along with its partner--MLB--signed off on the deal. From there--Major League Baseball sold IT'S TEAM--The Former Montreal Expos, now Our Washington Nationals to The Lerner Group. Never--during any of those discussions or final agreement reached to build New Nationals Park--were The Lerner's or ANY OTHER POTENTIAL SUITOR for Our Franchise consulted on the final deal.

When The Lerner Group forked over $450 Million to purchase Our Washington Nationals--that price tag came with all the warts, problems and deficiencies of that Original Ballpark Agreement. EVERYONE KNEW Parking and Transportation were BIG ISSUES-beforehand. The DC Government ignored all that--just wanting the deal. And, through all the subsequent worry, griping, concern and, in some cases--fear--over whether each and every ballgame on South Capitol Street will be a Traffic FIASCO--progress is being made--Clearly.

But, Marc Fisher takes exception to the fact that--Charged Parking will be offered to all Season Ticket Packages, and Free Parking for ANYONE ELSE that so desires. How can it be foolish for The Nationals to offer a "FREE" Service from RFK Stadium? Personally, I have stated before the shuttle doesn't work for me. But, FREE is FREE!! And, despite the worries of Security at The RFK Lot and getting stuck in traffic (those details have not been released)? Why is it--that whenever The Team seemingly comes up with temporary solutions--the media immediately starts jumping down their throat. Honestly, I don't get that. And, this has nothing to do with whether yesterday's announcement was premature.

The Facts:

The District is building 1225 Parking Spaces in two garages on site, and a smaller lot in The Team's Office Building.

Our Washington Nationals have temporary permission from The City to build up to 3775 surface parking spaces in and around New Nationals Park, until the year 2012.

Even if The Navy Yard Entrance being renovated is not completed by Opening Day, 2008--due to the ongoing issues with Metro and a Developer--The West Entrance to Navy Yard Station will still be open. Reminder--The Navy Yard Metro has been open since the re-construction first began.

The City had promised to deliver additional parking around New Nationals Park. At the same time--The Owners of Our Washington Nationals have been working to find parking of their own. But, make no mistake about it--the original deal said The District of Columbia was responsible for finding additional parking. It sure seems to me--The Team is looking for solutions. The City may not be.

The Team claims it now has a temporary solution for patrons with a FREE Parking and Shuttle Service--potentially a few thousand more spaces. What we don't know is whether The City has officially signed off on that deal.

And, we all know--from the very first game at New Nationals Park--and continuing for probably a year or two--parking and transportation is going to be an ever evolving project on South Capitol Street.

Those are all the facts.

Yet, according to Fisher's Article--it's Ownership's problem that vacant lots around South Capitol Street have not been gobbled up by Our Team for use. Has it ever occurred to Marc Fisher that these other land owners might have realized they are Land Barons--and are not going to give up their lots for a short term gain. Land that might provide far greater riches later?

And, if Our Washington Nationals should be buying up, or renting, these spots--for temporary use--why is not The District Government assisting in the matter? You would think The District of Columbia has alot at stake in this issue. Maybe they just don't care.

No doubt--a ton of behind the scenes maneuvering is going on when it comes to the parking and transportation issues for New Nationals Park. Politicking that is totally an unknown to you or I. But, for Marc Fisher to state "The Nats need to pay whatever it takes to create temporary parking facilities to get fans through the first couple of seasons, before the new development near the park is ready with large, underground garages."--is absurd. And, shows a total mis-reading of the situation.

Sure, Baseball is a BIG BUSINESS. But, NO ONE (in any business) IS GOING TO, WILLINGLY, PAY A KINGS RANSOM just to please The Washington Posts' political desires. Solutions are clearly in the works. The world has yet to come to an end over Parking and Transportation Issues for New Nationals Park. Granted, they are all important issues. But, why can't some just let it all play out. In the past few weeks, alot of new fresh information has come forward--Useful Knowledge.

Metro's working out their kinks. The South Capitol Street Bridge has been lowered to street level on the north side of The Anacostia River to ease Game Day Traffic Concerns. 5,000 Parking Spaces are GUARANTEED around the ballpark at an unknown cost (RFK has 10,000 by comparison). A few thousand "FREE" Park and Shuttle Spaces are conceivably available at RFK (considering the worry of $30 Parking around the new ballpark--$0 looks pretty good, doesn't it).

And, you can bet--some unknown entrepreneurs will be opening up shop on their own--making space available parking on their lots--outside of dealing directly with Our Washington Nationals. This is America--its going to happen-at a price to be determined by flow.

That all doesn't seem too awful to me--5 months before The Very First Game to EVER BE PLAYED AT NEW NATIONALS PARK.

Which all makes we Wonder?

What's with "The Fear Factor" of The Washington Post? Honestly--the television news media which I work in every day, is not as pessimistic. Really, not even close.


Edward J. Cunningham said...

There are a number of Nats fans who believe that despite the lip service The Washington Post has paid to supporting the return of baseball in Washington, that the Post in general does not care for the Nationals and wouldn't mind if the Orioles were the only team in town again. I've waited too d*** long for the Nats, and I refuse to go along with this attitude. Next year I intend to attend between 10-20 games at the new park just like I did this past season and if the Post doesn't want to come, that's their problem and not mine.

I'll be taking Metro so I won't have to worry about parking.

Jim H said...


Well said...though the non-print media is pretty dang scary as well. ;)

An Briosca Mor said...

Whether Stan Kasten jumped the gun in announcing it or not, the city is going to have to go along with the shuttle plan from RFK. Why? Because the city loses revenue if attendance is not up to projections, due to lost concessions revenue that they get a cut out of. Also, although I'm not sure about it, they may be getting a cut out of each ticket sold too. If the Nationals want to increase attendance by parking cars at RFK - another facility owned by the same entity that owns Nationals Park, namely the city itself - the DC government would immediately be labeled the fools in the deal if they denied this shuttle plan, thereby losing money for themselves. Their stated areas that need more study before they can approve this plan are totally bogus. Concern on the part of RFK neighbors over traffic in the area and cars parked there for 81 home games? Hey, hasn't there been 81 games worth of parking and traffic there the last three years with no problem? Worried about shuttle buses adding to traffic congestion? Hey, try replacing those buses with many more cars if people drive themselves to the new park. They can't turn this proposal down, and Stan may have wisely forced their hand by announcing it as he did, to prevent them from dithering over it as we all know they would do.

Marc Fisher is an idiot. What business is not going to give preference in access and parking to its regular customer base over the casual one-day-at-a-time customer? That's not elitist, it's just good business. Is it elitist that the Post gives a price break to its regular subscribers that it doesn't to Joe Sixpack who buys the paper at 7-11? By Marc's logic, it would be.

And don't get me started on the Post. They were supportive in the beginning (while remaining fair and balanced) but sometime in the last year or so they changed their tune. I think they just don't like the Lerners and Kasten for some reason and are taking it out on them. Look at all the Post did the first year the team was here: saturation coverage, huge panoramic photos of the first game, Boswell weekly e-mail columns in addition to more columns than now in the print edition, hell even those handout "Homestand" scorecards/programs they used to pass out outside the stadium before games. (Remember them?) Now, none of that. They claim to still be fair and balanced in their coverage, but it's clear that the more negative a story is about the team, the bigger play it's gonna get in the Post. Their bias is obvious. They may not want the Nats to fail - or maybe they do - but they're sure not going to lift a finger to help them succeed.

mike edgar said...

An Briosca Mor,

You make a great point about the city's financial interest in helping to provide greater ease of parking in order to increase attendance and therefore the city's take of game/stadium related profit. I hadn't thought about that aspect of it, but it sure makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I know the Post has huge influence and certainly it's own agenda, but I'd really look at coverage in terms of mirroring public perception rather than shaping it. We're all huge fans. But how much of the city is? How much does the city sacrifice for our enjoyment? The Post is out to sell papers, so they give readers the stories that interest them.

With a superb journalist like Svrluga covering the team for three years (and pretty much the AP covering the O's since Jorge left) I don't think you can make the case that the Post doesn't cover the team. The audience is small, that's all. That's why the online coverage is so much deeper.

The Nats as an entity are making a far greater impact on the city right now then they're making on the playing field. Which is more newsworthy?

We're in the sausage-making phase, folks: it ain't pretty to look at. And the Post is covering every grizzly detail--which a daily paper is supposed to do. Doesn't mean the finished product isn't going to be first-rate.


An Briosca Mor said...


I've never said that the Post doesn't cover the team, nor have I questioned the level of effort they put into it. Their emphasis, the arc of the story they're telling to their readers, is my complaint. Their story arc with regard to the Nats is a negative one. Leaving aside their coverage of on-field events, which has plenty of examples of highlighting the bad news and burying the good news (especially in the print edition), just look at how they are covering the current parking issue. Back in August or so, Boswell writes a column all about how parking around the stadium will be a make-or-break issue for the Nats. Two months later, the club announces a solution to the problem of parking season ticket holders at the stadium, as well as the FREE RFK shuttle parking plan. What does the Post do? No props to the Nats for resolving any issue related to parking, but instead a pure slam piece by Marc Fisher and a story that basically says the Nats are lying about the RFK shuttle plan since the city hasn't signed off on it yet. Do they talk to anyone from the team to ask about the discrepancy and get the team's view on that? No, they just go with one side of the story - the one that reflects negatively on the Nationals. They are not mirroring public perception here, they are shaping it. They are promulgating the perception that the Nats are painting a rosy scenario when that's not the case. But what is the truth? We don't know, because they only give us one side of the story.

This pattern holds throughout everything the Post prints about the Nationals. Stan Kasten has a stated policy of not discussing the details of personnel matters until a decision point is reached. The Post knows that. The team and its radio broadcasters are in negotiations right now for contracts for next year. No one is talking about the on-going negotiations per the team's policy, but there are absolutely no indications that Charlie and Dave will not return next year, from anyone - except the Post, that is. They raise the issue and report that the team has not signed its broadcasters for next year, creating doubt and raising cries of team mis-treatment of Charlie and Dave, when in the absence of the Post's comments the general public would cruise along in blissful ignorance until the club announces that negotiations have concluded and this is the result, whatever it might be. By bringing up the issue now and casting negative light on it, the Post is not mirroring public perception of the Nats, they are shaping it.

I could go on and on about this, but I won't. Hopefully you see my point by now. The Post is doing everything it can, within the bounds of "good journalistic standards" of course, to cast a negative perception of the Nationals among its readership.

John Ramsey said...


Your blog is essential reading for Nationals fans. While the newspapers, radio and TV do have their place, your analysis is the only one that looks at news from a fan's perspective.

I got the e-mail about the parking solution the other night and I said, "hooray." I was surprised to see the Post's take on it the next morning. It seemed they went out of their way to find conflict. The found a city official who said that it wasn't a done deal. So what? Do they think Kasten just made up this plan with zero city consultation? That would be absurd.

While I fear the price of parking will be excessive, and I hate the idea of having to commit to a parking pass, I do appreciate giving all of us the opportunity. At RFK, I had either a 15 minute Metro ride or a 15 minute car drive. Sometimes I drove, sometimes I took Metro. It was awesome!

Navy Yard's Metro won't be ready for the crowds and will require transfers for me, so Metro isn't as appealing. The RFK shuttle is a practical temporary solution. And it's free! How it works in practice, of course, remains to be seen.

The naysayers about RFK parking claim that it would be dangerous to leave your cars in the parking lot without a game being played at RFK. But we leave our cars at Metro lots for hours and hours and really this should be no different. (And yes, I know that break-ins are a problem in Metro lots. But we still use them, don't we?) I'm confident that security will be in place at the lots and our cars will be fine.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that Nats320 is a goto blog for me now... I read it almost everyday. The Frank Howard interview was great and Stan Katsen too! Thanks SBF for excellent coverage!!! Say hello to the African Queen for me (and Screech too)... ;p


SenatorNat said...

Marc Fisher intends to go public tomorrow with the lack of planning by the Lerners for the wildfires in Southern California to consume the stadium before even one game is played, leaving the City with a burned down wreck - symbolic of the disaster that is MLB in D.C. (Thankfully, Fisher will undoubtedly point out: "we still shall have three teams left in closeby Maryland: the Orioles; Ravens; and the Redskins!!!)

Gee - gorgeous new iconic stadium standing in a longstanding defunct part of town one mile due south of the U.S. Capitol, on time and budget; team which was supposed to be the very worst in all baseball having played .460 overall for three years, with attendance averaging about 2.25 million per year over the antiquated RFK span; owners which have only been in charge for 18 months, who are among the most saavy folks in town on major malls and accomodating traffic having put this as their number one priority since they took the reins; and recent developments and announcements that, as said, are incrementally positive. Popping out of that subway, and the walk over to the Park may be the rage, anyway...

The Post feels that it can play the D.C. v. the rich, predominantly white suburbans who refuse to pay a commuter tax card in this one, and it is playing it to the hilt, which is its right. Also its right to root for their home team, the Boston Red Sox!!

The probable scenario that it will be proven wrong, across the board, provides an incentive to all involved (D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, Lerners & Kasten, and supporter of baseball on the City Council) to indeed make that the reality.

Trust in Kasten. All good.

Screech's Best Friend said...

It is true that The City gets a Set Fee for 30 Years on the Rent/Usage of New Nationals Park. Then, the city also gets a certain amount of bonus dollars paid to them by the team based on Ticket Sales & Concession/Memorabilia Sales. But, I don't know the exact numbers that must be reached to trigger the clause. Clearly, this IS AN INCENTIVE for The City to make the traffic, parking, etc into and out of the ballpark as easy as possible. The more who show up for baseball and spend money--more dollars in the city's coffers.

And, Fabulous Commentary by An Briosca Mor. Good Stuff. Thanks.

paul said...

The Post's Metro coverage has always been weak. Very few of the writers are from here. Metro is considered the rookie's beat until you get something better. There are a few exceptions, but not many.