Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Fresher Look & Feel

A fresher look and feel of attending any baseball game at Nationals Park was the key point to the promotional media tour conducted today by Our Washington Nationals. Yes, the PNC Diamond Club has been completely renovated. Dozens of new food items will be offered. And quite a few new faces donning the Red Curly "W" on the field of play will suit up come Monday, April 5th for Opening Day.

Apparently, that's still wasn't enough because even more additions have been added to the South Capitol Street Ballpark--now entering it's third season of hosting Major League Baseball. Today's Media Tour touched on everything.

"We would like to make Nationals Park a destination stop. We want people to consider Nationals Park as a place to bring their families and to have a good time," believes Andrew Feffer, Chief Operating Officer for Our Washington Nationals. "And to do that, we need to make the ballpark even more attractive than ever."

Like adding two special Red Carpet Entrances for Season Ticket Holders Only at Center Field Gate. Season Ticket Holders must present their season ticket or their Nationals MVP Card to enter these gates. Those Season Ticket Holder Only Gates will not operate on Opening Day--due to the extra layer of security in place for the appearance by The President Of The United States.

Drink rails have replaced three rows of seats at The Red Loft.
Two additional rows of seats have been replaced with dining tables & chairs in the Red Porch.
A lounge is now located outside The Red Porch--Center Field Gate Side.
For 2010, beer offerings in the Red Porch have increased from four to eight including Blue Moon, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA and Harpoon UFO Jefeweizen.

The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk has been upgraded and now includes outdoor lounge furniture, high top tables, umbrellas and the opportunity for fans to take advantage of Miller Lite Party Nites for every Thursday, Friday & Saturday home games. $20 ($22 for prime games) purchases a Scoreboard Pavilion Seat and a Drink Voucher for one beer, soda or water for all three of those days throughout the entire season.

There is also shuffle board, ring toss, bag ball and corn hole games available to play. Live DJ's on Thursdays & Saturdays, Live Bands on Fridays.

Also new for 2010, Cool Down Misting for warm days and Portable Space Heaters for cold days. As always, there will be a PreGame Show at The Scoreboard Walk with games and prizes. And--as reported the other day--for 2 and 1/2 hours before every first pitch--$5 beers at the Miller Scoreboard Walk.

Economy parking replaces the free Nats Express Shuttle Service option. The Park & Ride from RFK Stadium has ended. Fans can park in Lot HH (under the SE/SW Freeway) for $5 and walk to Nationals Park (10-15 minutes) or use Lot W across from The Navy Yard and park for $10. Metro, Biking, Water Taxi and other parking options are available. Click here for complete information.

Finally, here is a video presentation to be played at Nationals Park on Opening Day.

Tomorrow morning the final post of today's media tour--A Complete Story On Our Washington Nationals "Bring A Smile To Haiti" Program.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

The Levy Difference

"Levy Restaurants could not be more excited to be partnered up with The Nationals again this year to provide what we refer to as The Levy Difference." stated Executive Chef Terrance Louzon. "At Levy Restaurants, we want to give the fan the total experience. If a fan wants ballpark food, we can give them that. But we can also give them healthy choices and high end choices. That's The Levy Difference."

The ball game being played on the field is the number one attraction at Nationals Park. Food & drink availability has to come a close second. This afternoon at Nationals Park during an extensive media tour promoting the atmosphere surrounding the 2010 Season for Our Washington Nationals, the concessionaire at the South Capitol Street Ballpark--Levy Restaurants--rolled out their new menu offerings.

They were extensive.

Interested in a Chicken & Waffle sandwich? Yeah, that's right--Chicken & Waffle with cayenne pepper in a maple syrup.

How about a Florida Marlins' Sea Dog?

Cajun Chicken Wrap?

Shrimp Po Boy?

Bottomless Popcorn? All you can eat for $7.

Can you handle the two pound Victory Knot Pretzel topped with gourmet sea salt and served with three dipping sauces--chipotle honey mustard, sweet cinnamon creme and beer cheese--IN A PIZZA BOX!! Yeah, it's that big and only available in The Red Loft!!

Beer and a humongous pretzel--what more do your want?

"This idea was invented in our Innovations Kitchen up in our home office of Chicago," continued Chef Louzon. "We started producing it this year in some of our football stadiums (served by Levy) and it went over really, really well. The Victory Knot is one of the things we recommend sharing!! (laughter--but he was serious).

Whether you are interested in a large food item or small food item--fans choices for 2010 are better than ever.

Chef Louzon: "Our Healthy Cart is a very unique option. We have an alternative menu for the healthy conscious people too. Right here at the healthy cart we will have three different types of sandwiches. All very low in fat, and very high in fiber. One of the newer items this year is going to be a Cajun Chicken Wrap. We have a chopped vegetable salad. We also have gluten free snacks for those needing that diet option. We have a yogurt parfait—a very popular item with granola. The healthy conscious fans really get a kick out of this cart and it does well (in sales)."

When Nationals Park opened in 2008, then concessionaire--Centerplate--attempted a Taste Of The Majors Stand that offered ballpark foods available from those visiting Major League Teams' ballpark menus. It never took off, because Centerplate never followed through on the idea. For 2010, Levy has customized five sandwiches from The National League East.

Five different foot long hot dog/sea food variations will be available for every single home game at the Taste Of The Majors stands behind Sections 117 & 313. Here are the sandwiches:

The DC Dog—with chili, mustard and onions
The Phillies Dog—with cheese, peppers and onions
The Marlins Sea Dog—Fried Cod
The Braves Dog—Cole Slaw & Chili
The Mets Dog—Sauerkraut and Mustard

Below, please find the complete new concession options and the locations where they will be available at Nationals Park:

Triple Play Grill (Behind Sections 107 & 210)
Crab Cake Sandwich
Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich
Florida Footlong SeaDog

Flippin Pizza (Sections 115/214/311)
New York Style Pizza

Bruster's Ice Cream (Sections 117/313)
New Ice Cream Partner that provides traditional scooped ice cream

Change Up Chicken (Section 130)
Chicken & Waffle Sandwich: A fried chicken breast fillet served open-face on a crispy waffle with cayenne maple syrup
Buffalo Chicken Tenders
BBQ Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Waffle Fries

Dupont Deli (Section 227)
Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Texas Toast--a triple decker sandwich made with cheddar and muenster cheeses
Grilled Italian Sandwich
Grilled Turkey Sandwich

Stars & Stripes Club (Sections 223-235)
Grilled Portobello and Vegetables Sandwich--peppers, onions, and zucchini on whole wheat bun
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Healthy Plate Cart (Section 110)
Chopped Vegetable Salad
Cajun Chicken Wrap
Returning Items include Hummus & Pita Chips, Grilled Vegetable Wrap, Turkey Wrap & Yogurt Parfait

Steak Of The Union (Section 119)
Philly Cheesesteaks


Levy Restaurants now offering Niman Ranch premium sausages, franks and meats in the PNC Diamond Club, Stars & Stripes Club and on the menu in the suites. Niman Ranch is a supplier for independent family ranchers--not through corporations.

That two pound Victory Knot--only available at The Red Loft

Bottomless Popcorn--any Nats Dog Stand

Gluten Free Red Bridge Beer and Foods available at the Healthy Plate Cart (Section 110) & other locations--to be determined.

Finally--only in The Red Porch--a Southwestern Steak Salad. And it is huge!! Enough for two--easily.
Grilled Caribbean Wings
Chicken Club Sandwich
Chicken Tender Basket
Turkey Cobb Salad
Onion Rings
Chocolate Banana Stack Cake
And Red Porch Velvet Cupcakes

Only a dozen or so new items were available during the food tasting today, The African Queen and I tried smaller portions of The Victory Knot, Parmesan Chicken Sandwich, Shrimp Po Boy, Grilled Portebello, Cajun Chicken Wrap and Red Porch Velvet Cupcakes. Really liked the Parmesan Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Portebello & Chicken Wrap. The Shrimp Po Boy had a nice tangy sauce and the shrimp was good--just too much bread surrounding it to complete the sandwich. Velvet Cupcakes--AWESOME!!

Here is a short video we shot with Levy Executive Chef Terrance Louzon explaining the offerings sampled by the media today. it was very windy--so the sound quality is not optimal from our small digital pocket camera.

Bottomline, if Levy Restaurants is truly trying to make a difference at Nationals Park, today's samplings went a long way toward improving the fan experience on South Capitol Street. No question, there are some Interesting new foods available for 2010.

Final Note: Except for the bottomless popcorn for $7--no prices were released today by Our Washington Nationals.

All Photos & Video Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

The New & Improved PNC Diamond Club At Nationals Park

Yeah, there were a dozen or so new food offerings tasted today by the media at Nationals Park. There was also a tremendous amount of information to digest: Low cost parking options, New Season Ticket Holder Only Entry Gates, a renovated Red Porch & Red Loft Restaurant & Bar, expanded Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk and a special effort to raise toothbrushes for Haiti Earthquake Victims. But nothing was more interesting to see in person than the $2 Million Dollar refurbishing of The PNC Diamond Club. So, that is where Nats320 will begin our extensive coverage from today's events.

“I would argue we have the two nicest clubs in any sports venue," stated Chris Gargani, Vice-President & Managing Director for Sales & Client Services for Our Washington Nationals. "Now, I am biased, but I’ve been in a lot of venues and worked in a lot of them myself. These two clubs we now have at Nationals Park (Lexus Presidents Club & PNC Diamond Club) may rival just about anything I have ever worked in or been in. Just a fantastic job renovating this Diamond Club.”

And Mr. Gargani was right!! What a renovation from the very moment you head to the front entrance behind home plate on the main concourse at Nationals Park--to walking inside.

Fabulous, Really!!

Exterior Concourse Pennants featuring Negro League Greats Buck Leonard & Josh Gibson, Senators Greats Walter Johnson & My Favorite Player Of All-Time!! Frank Howard--along with Our Washington Nationals Ryan Zimmerman.

Real Brick Interior Walls.

A Backlit Glass Mosaic Beer & Wine Bar with granite countertops featuring six beers on tap. The Game Seven Of The 1924 World Series Scoreboard now gone.

Leather Lounge Chairs, 17 Sony HDTV's, Enlarged Foyer with Hostess Stand.

And a Levy's Restuarants Farm To Fork Chef's Table: "This is where we get ingredients as local as we can and as fresh as we can while focusing on what the local farmers have to offer," said Levy Restaurant Executive Chef--Terrance Louzon. "There will be Four Chef Tables set up in Diamond Club for each game. One will be full of desserts. The other three themed differently every day and none will have the same menu twice during the same homestand." Additionally, Diamond Club will have two 'Action Stations' or carving stations where a Chef will be on the main floor preparing ‘to order’ items or carving items to order.

The Diamond Club Chef's Table Buffet costs $25. Some PNC Diamond Club tickets are loaded with $35 in added value and that can be used to defray the cost of the sitdown meal inside this now very exclusive club.

You are going to have to check the renovations out for yourself because The New & Improved PNC Diamond Club is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!! The African Queen says it "looks like a setting for an exclusive nightclub." A total transformation from what existed in the exact same spot during the first two seasons of Nationals Park. Sohna and I really enjoyed this part of today's media tour the most.

And here is a video presentation shown on the HDTV Scoreboard today narrated by Clint Khoury--Stadium Host:

Much more coming later on the new food choices, Red Porch & Red loft expansion, Season Ticket Holder Entry Gates, The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk and that toothbrush drive for Haiti.

Sohna and I just had to lead with The PNC Diamond Club Renovations.

All Photos & Video Copyrighted Nats320--All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Presidential Visit To Space Coast Stadium

With a Washington Presidential Opener on many minds today, did you know that back in October of 2004, when the hotly contested Presidential Election featuring then President George W. Bush and Massachusetts' Senator John Kerry was in full swing--The 43rd President Of The United States visited Space Coast Stadium for a rally in Central Florida? President Bush's visit came less than four months before Our Washington Nationals began their very first training camp ever in Viera, Florida.

Of course, five months later, President Bush would also throw out The First Presidential Pitch in Washington, D.C. in over 33 years on April 14, 2005.

But on October 23rd, 2004, The President Of The United States was in Viera, Florida. What's interesting to observe in the campaign pictures is how barren the landscape was surrounding Space Coast Stadium nearly five and one half years ago. The vacant lot on the horizon in the pictures of Marine One landing in centerfield is now a rather large housing development with a golf course. In fact, a new Viera Hospital is about to open near there as well.

And notice how the ballpark is mostly teal in trim color--thanks to the fact Space Coast Stadium was originally the spring training home for The Florida Marlins.

Here a link to the video on C-SPAN from October 23rd, 2004.

Our Washington Nationals and The Houston Astros have to be on the short list of Major League Teams whose complete facilities have been visited by a President Of The United States. President Bush's Father--George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41) has taken in games at The Astrodome & Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas & Oscela County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida for his beloved Houston Astros. Interestingly, President George W. Bush has been to all of Washington's homes: RFK Stadium, Nationals Park and Space Coast Stadium.

President Obama makes his first official appearance ever at any Nationals Game or Ballpark on Monday, April 5th, 2010.

Many thanks to Nationals Fan Aaron for providing the link and the campaign pictures for this post.

President Bush 2005 First Pitch at RFK Stadium--Reuters