Saturday, December 23, 2006

Give 'Em Credit Now

After six months of constant debate about the leadership quality of The Lerners as owners of The Washington Nationals--both in the media and, especially, among Nat Bloggers--The Washington Post Reports today that Management has stepped up BIG TIME to contribute cash improvements to the New Stadium being built on South Capitol Street.

Tom Boswell reports that Managing Principal Owner, Ted Lerner, will authorize "at least $30 Million" in improvements to the currently under construction stadium. And, after the ballpark opens, in 2008--Ted's son, Principal Owner, Mark Lerner, tells Boz that the family expects to spend "millions more each season to develop the park's personality."

Is this not, exactly, what so many have been complaining about the new owners for so many months? That the Lerners were tightwads, cheap and unwilling to spend one extra dollar toward making the city financed park the "Crown Jewel" we all want it to be. You have to, finally, give them credit. Its clear, The Lerners DO HAVE a business plan--just not yours, or mine.

Many complained about "THE PLAN", which essentially has gutted the team of major league caliber players, and focused on building the Washington Nationals from the ground up, first with young developing talent, was a bad idea. Critiques complained that the cost savings for dumping payroll was not being put back into the franchise, but pocketed by ownership. Since day one, I have backed the plan, as this franchise needs a total overhaul, badly.

Then, others bitched, that as a gesture of goodwill, The Lerners should willingly pay for all cost overruns and improvements to the stadium--this all before, they even had the opportunity to, as businessman, look thoroughly at ALL THE PLANS. Building Plans worked out, well before they even knew ownership of The Washington Nationals was coming in their direction. Would you jump in blindly?

Now--six months into their reign, its CRYSTAL CLEAR that Our Washington Nationals are going to be what I have believed for some time--A GLAMOUR FRANCHISE--and The Lerner Group, along with Team President, Stan Kasten are leading the charge. Over the past few weeks, everything seems to be finally coming together, at the Holidays (Oh Yeah, I am still pissed, though, about the $15 Parking Fee at RFK for 2007).

Included in the Stadium upgrades by the Lerners will be an HDTV quality scoreboard, larger restaurant in centerfield with a special LED Sign for Advertising, greater amenities for the Club Level Suites. And, those red seats that I was very interested in that showed up in the latest stadium renditions in left centerfield--THEY WILL BE TABLES that you can buy food from the restaurant, while still watching the game. I love that concept.

The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission estimates these improvement may be greater than $35 million. And, Mark Lerner stated that this will not be all for improvements. Once the stadium opens, Management will constantly look at opportunities to enhance the total baseball experience.

We, as fans, are seeing our child, Our Washington Nationals, slowly grow up. Before you know it, The Nats will be out of adolescents and into adulthood. Believe it or not, you are going to miss some of these growing pains. Its a GREAT TIME to be a Washington Nationals Fan.

The Lerners have, publicly, stepped it up, and hopefully quelled some of the angst that has existed out there for some time. For me, Christmas has come two days earlier this year.

Again--Happy Holidays to ALL OF YOU!!


Anonymous said...

BTW, while I was going to White Flint to buy some Xmas gifts (we decided to open up our presents this year on Christmas Eve Eve or Festivus), this other guy went to the Navy Yards to take pictures of the stadium construction site.

I think you will want to take a look!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie: Yes, I saw them. I was going to do the same thing. Have a Happy Holiday.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm finally a season ticket holder. Two gripes, though. I was hoping that I could get LOWER outfield reserve tickets since they are also priced at $5.00 each and nothing on the Nats website implies they aren't available for sale. However, when I ordered, only the UPPER outfied reserve tickets were offered.

Secondly, what's up with a $30.00 service charge???

Screech's Best Friend said...

$30.00 Service Charge!! For me and every other season ticket holder its $20.00. Its basically so they can FED EX your ticket book to you. They aren't making any money on it. But, that $30 is not in line with every other person that I know.

Whats the price of those Upper Outfield Yellow $5 seats? If they are other than $5, you should call 675-nats and talk to someone this week, as they are offering those for $5. The ones in the pink seats, are slightly more. Let me know. Nice to see that you are joining the fun. Take care,

Farid Rushdi said...

It might be fun to take a look at some of the "artists renderings" of PNC Park and some of the other new parks and compare them to the actual finished product. They are pretty close, but with several obvious differences.

Makes me wonder just how much D.C.'s "real deal" will look like that rendering you have in your story.

Can't tell you how much fun it was to do the interview with Vermont's C.J. Knudsen. He is a very interesting person and really thought the "If you call the Nationals and ask for Jimbo, will he answer?" question very funny.

One question I didn't put in the article was how the fans' felt about the team moving from Montreal to D.C. (I suggested that the people from Vermont had more in common with Montreal than D.C.) He kind of side-stepped the issue, but then told me about this year's "Montreal appreciation day" with Dennis Martinez. Oh. Still doing the "Montreal" thing two years after the move, are we?

Thought that best left out of the story.

Happy Holidays.


Anonymous said...

Well, if the $30.00 is for using FedEx, why does my e-mail say they are going to mail my tickets to me? And the tickets themselves do only cost $5.00. It's just that on the web site it lists that the lower outfield seats are also listed at $5.00 but they weren't offered as season tickets. Maybe they are reserved for day-of-game or advanced purchases? Anyway, I get the impression that season ticket holders can buy those at a discount.

I'll let you know once I get something in the mail!

Anonymous said...

This is the exact wording from my e-mail:

"Thank you for purchasing Washington Nationals Season Packages!

Season tickets ordered more than 10 days before a homestand will be mailed via USPS. Season tickets purchased within less than 10 days before a homestand will be left at the Will Call box office for pick up. Patron must present a valid photo ID and the credit card on which the tickets were charged."

Whatever reason that the Nationals have for charging me an extra $30.00, it isn't for using FedEx overnight delivery...

Anonymous said...

One more thing. I went to RFK Stadium today and talked to one of the store clerks. I told him that I was wondering where the equivalent of the Uppper Outfield Reserve tickets which cost only $5.00 will be available in the new ballpark. He didn't think there would be any and that the cheapest ticket available for season ticket holders will be $10 or $12. If that's the case, I'll be priced out because I can't afford to spend over $200 on season tickets.

He also said something else which I think is (unfortunately) wishful thinking. He said that the park will be sold out the first two years because it's new and compared it to when Camden Yards opened. I agree that it should draw better than RFK, but I don't think it is going to be sold out.

When Camden Yards opened, it was more than just a new ballpark, it was a new TYPE of ballpark. There weren't any other ballparks around like it...certainly not near Baltimore! Also, the Orioles were drawing from a larger fan base and the team was only two years removed from almost winning the AL East title.

Now there are still many baseball fans in the Washington area who consider the Orioles their "home team" and refuse to switch allegiances. Furthermore, on the MLB Nats board, there are a number of fans who have said they won't go to any Nats games because the Lerners are not going to emulate the Marlins and D'Backs by spending a ton of money to try to win a pennant NOW. Others are just fair-weather fans disallusioned by the stadium fight and the long stewardship of this team by MLB.

In other words, the Lerners dare not take this fanbase for granted, or it is going to shrink further rather than growing. And $30 service charges for new fans buying season tickets is not going to help.

Anonymous said...

On the bright spot, I heard that the Nationals have extended the deadline for people who are getting season tickets to make their payment to January 4th. What does this mean? It means I should be getting a new MP3 player courtesty of the Nats! (I made my payment on Christmas Day.)