Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Parking Stuff

Being out of town on business--no, The African Queen and I have not received the parking information from Our Washington Nationals. But, from what Sohna and I have gathered from reading the various threads tonight online is--$35 Parking for New Nationals Park? Are you serious?

If true--No--I don't see value in that cost. Now--personally, we have not had the opportunity to review any of that material --and will not be able to until this coming Saturday, at the earliest. But, responding to what we have read, I just find it hard to believe that so many would be willing to pay that much for 81 Games. $2835 to park your car for 4 to 5 hours a day--just doesn't do it for me. Baseball is not Football, there is a big difference. Out of nowhere--that Free Shuttle from RFK--is looking better and better by the moment-- although most likely inconvenient.

Over the course of the past three seasons of baseball in The Nation's Capital--The African Queen and I have taken Metro and Driven to the ballpark on about a 50/50 ratio--depending on the our work schedules. For some time--we have wished to see a partial plan that is interchangeable for ANY OF THE HOME DATES. Whether that plan encompassed 10, 20 or 40 Games--of our choice--only then would such a higher fee to park near New Nationals Park be even considered worthwhile.

When we return home--we shall thoroughly review all the pertinent facts--but right now, on the surface--this parking stuff as reported, was not pleasant news.

Business is business--and my livelihood sometimes requires me to get home from any ball game as soon as possible--so I can get up the very next morning and perform my real job. And on occasion--there should be more accommodating plans by Our Washington Nationals to allow everyone to consider driving to New Nationals Park--without having to worry about the costs of parking their cars.


paul said...

Yes, you guys in Virginia are going to suffer the most, I'm afraid.

I don't need parking close by, so I have some (hopefully) unbiased reactions to the mailing.

One is that I learned a lot more a year ago at that meeting in SW than I did from the mailing. The two main chunks of information were: a map and propaganda sheet from Metro, and an order form from the Nats where you can spend many college credits to park your car.

Now, let's talk about Metro for a second. Rarely do I use the F word in public, but I was prompted to after the joyous Hoyas' game Saturday. But my joy was turned into being incredibly pissed off. There were too few employees, too few stairways in use, and they did not wait for the passengers to get to the end of the platform. And I have seen this scene before. Metro just cannot be trusted to move a lot of people quickly. It took FOREVER to get on a train. (And our train was to go out of service at Friendship Heights! God save those passengers on that platform.)

As for the Nats, they have a lot on their plate. They really have only sketchy ideas of where parking is going to be. Ditto with traffic patterns. They (or the city, whoever gets to decide) have not revealed where the parking boundaries are going to be for neighborhood parking. So the easy solution was to make the parking so highly priced that very few fans will opt in. You could see this coming like a Livan slider.

Anonymous said...

$35 !!!! Outrageous. $15 to park as far if not further than the Metro? Come on.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Is it $35 for season ticket holders or $35 for everybody?

Anonymous said...

You should have read the parking info before posting. $35 dollars is the highest price. The prices are tiered down to 15 with the furthest distance comparable to walking from the end of lot 8.

Anonymous said...

This is truly outrageous - and it's not an accident that the team waited until after people had paid their money for seasons tickets before disclosing this. Also, I'm not confident that the shuttle from RFK will be "Free"

An Briosca Mor said...

I wonder how many of the folks who opted not to get Diamond Seats in Nationals Park in favor of moving behind the dugouts are rethinking that decision now? With parking in the closest quadrant to the park set at $35, that establishes the value of a spot in one of the two garages next to the stadium at at least that same $35, if not more. Thus the cost of a $150 Diamond Seat no longer looks quite as high, does it? $150 minus $35 for parking and another $35 for the food credit brings you to $80 for the seat. Dugout Box seats are $60, but someone sitting there could easily end up paying the same $35 for parking and $35 for food. Twenty dollar difference isn't all that bad now, is it?

But I'm an Upper Infield Gallery and Metro guy myself, so all this is really no concern to me. I probably could have driven to RFK the last three seasons, and perhaps even saved some time doing so, but I chose not to because I knew the new park would not be car-friendly and I decided I would train myself not to be dependent on the car to get to games. (And you know what? I bet that $15 RFK parking that everyone complained about was the team's first step in trying to wean fans off the car. Imagine the outcry at $35/$25/$20/$15 parking prices if the RFK price had remained as it was in 2005.)

Metro is not perfect, but it is nowhere near the disaster that many panicking fans believe it to be. I know this from three years of experience taking Metro to games (22 of them last year) and virtually nowhere else. The key is to pay attention and work the Metro system to your advantage. Don't wed yourself to a fixed-in-stone Metro journey. Instead, consider Metro as your final approach vehicle to the park. By this I mean be flexible in where you decide to park and get on the Metro. Track maintenance and single-tracking situations are usually announced in advance on the Metro website (except for emergencies, of course) so if you see one scheduled on your regular route, drive to a Metro garage on another line or closer in so that you avoid the area where maintenance is slowing things down. If you live in Virginia and take the Blue, Yellow or Orange Lines, don't just assume you have to park at the furthest-out Metro garage like Huntington. There are large commercial garages at the Pentagon City station (Blue/Yellow Lines) and Ballston station (Orange Line) associated with the shopping malls there. Those garages are available to Metro parkers too, you know. There are probably other commercial garages that are near closer-in Metro stations too. Do your homework and find an option that works for you.

If you ride the Orange, Blue or Yellow Lines and are concerned about having to change trains to get on the Green Line, consider walking just a bit to the stadium and get off at Capitol South or L'Enfant Plaza. I've done the walk from Capitol South and it's not bad at all. L'Enfant I don't know about, though. But both of those stations are not all that much further from the stadium than the furthest out parking will be.

And I guess if you absolutely have to drive and don't want to pay the parking prices, the RFK shuttle sounds like a good option. Really, it probably won't take much longer to get to Nats Park via the shuttle than it will to walk there from some of those far-out parking places.

Eric said...

I took metro to 25+ games per season over the last 3 years to/from RFK. I never had much of a problem. Sure, there were crowds, but the reality is I was always on a train within 20 minutes of leaving RFK (except opening day 2005...they didn't have things well thought out yet). I know metro can be unreliable, but it really wasn't terrible. My understanding is that the Navy Yard stop will be designed to handle more people than Stadium/Armory, so that should help. The big difficulty will be the transfer stations, but I think that if you can handle crowds, it wont be as awful as some folks think.

Anonymous said...

There's now a more updated map at JDLand than the one you're displaying, showing the four zones and the prices expected for each zone, along with the lots that could or could not be planned for use by the ballpark:

Stadium Parking and Transportation

Anonymous said...

Jaysus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph! That's more than my seat costs! I'm going to a ballgame to get a really good parking spot.

Anonymous said...

These eye watering parking fees are likely a preview of future ticket prices. Plain and simple, the Lerners are in the baseball business to make money.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I hope Metro considers running shuttle buses to other Metro stations besides RFK. That would make it easier for fans to take public transit and help move the crowds faster...

Anonymous said...

There is no way I am going to get caught in the gridlock that I expect to occur down near the stadium this season. I will take Metro to the games this year (and/or use the park and ride shuttle from RFK), and then reassess driving and parking for 2009 as I see how things go this year.

Anonymous said...

Although RFK was just fine with me and I enjoyed dozens of games there over the past three years, we all know that in this current baseball world that the Expos would not have moved here if not for the free new stadium. And it is probably true that a new stadium will create a buzz that will bring in a lot more fans than RFK would have had.

RFK had ample parking and convenient Metro access.
Nationals Park will never have adequate parking and its Metro station is on the little used Green Line, forcing too many fans to transfer.

The District has justified paying for this stadium by banking on a revitalized business district being created around the ballpark. Could they have created RFK-size parking lots if they had wanted? Probably. After all, Nationals Park is not in the city center, just as RFK was not. But then we have acres of empty lots for 284 days a year, like at RFK.

So, I expected this. It happened in S.F. when the Giants moved out of Candlestick Park. At least here in DC, we have a Metro stop at the ballpark. In SF, the BART train is about as far away as our Capitol South station is to our new stadium.

It is interesting that the Lerners were so insistent on putting up those hideous garages in left field so they knew their Presidential Suite owners would have on-site parking. They know how important parking is. But, I do believe we will be cursing those ugly boxes for years to come as the only thing wrong wth our new stadium. Would it really have been so bad for a bit of a delay so we could have put them underground?

I know I will enjoy many aspects of the new ballpark. It will be beautiful. But I have always known that we will pay a price in higher ticket costs, worse seating locations, narrower seats, inconvenient transportation options, and a near requirement that season tickets be purchased. All these things happened in Baltimore and in San Francisco, to name two places with which I'm familiar.

I live in Maryland, so I'll be fine with Metro or maybe even RFK shuttle service. It won't be as easy as getting to games at RFK were, but it won't be too bad. I wish that were true for everyone else and I sympathize with those of you forced to buy full season ticket passes at these high prices.

Anonymous said...

I have read through the parking information and it seems completely reasonable that if you want to park practically in the stadium, you should pay the most. I would rather the big money guys pay for the convenience because the alternative would be (1) higher ticket and food prices that everybody pays or (2) a smaller team payroll. What is shcoking to me is the statement that "...there should be more accommodating plans by Our Washington Nationals to allow everyone to consider driving to New Nationals Park--without having to worry about the costs of parking their cars." Are you crazy? The stadium is in the capitol of the free world, the price of real estate is sky high and you want free parking (or very cheap)? So you can get home quickly after the game? I agree, the Nats stand to make a pretty penny out of this, but so is DC who built the stadium.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

"Would it really have been so bad for a bit of a delay so we could have put them underground?"

Absolutely, positively YES. The Nationals played three years at RFK Stadium and attendance has declined sharply as fair-weather fans have decided they would not put up with RFK. This stadium needed to be finished yesterday. If the construction of the stadium were to be delayed...as you suggest...to build underground garages just so somebody's view of the Capitol is unobstructed---we would be waiting until 2009 or 2010. The Dodgers could afford to stay in the Colisseum for four years. The Nats could not afford to spend another day.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

"Nationals Park will never have adequate parking and its Metro station is on the little used Green Line, forcing too many fans to transfer."

This is something I really don't understand. I have lived my entire life--up until now--in Silver Spring, MD. Now I'm living near Rockville. Whenever I went downtown to see the Mall, I would transfer trains. Whenever I went to the Archives, I would transfer trains. Every single time I went to a Nats or Redskins game at RFK Stadium, I would transfer trains.

So pardon me if I am not sympathetic to a Virginian who has always taken a direct route via the Blue and Orange lines to the Smithsonian or Stadium/Armory station. So now you will actually have to leave the train BEFORE your stop, go up or down an escalator and wait for another train? Boo hoo hoo! Transferring trains is not that big a deal. If somebody refuses to take Metro to games because they can't bear to transfer trains, they must not be very good baseball fans.

Anonymous said...

I live north of the ballpark by Penn Quarter and intend to walk there on game days. However, if I had to drive I would consider parking north of the freeway/railroad tracks. For example, the 200 block of C Street SW has free parking after 630P, excellent highway acess and is only a 15 minute walk to the ballpark via Washington Avenue and South Capital Street. Why pay $35 to be closer to the ballpark and be stuck in traffic to boot?