Washington Nationals Get a New Stadium That Could Be as Bad as Minute Maid Park. Maybe.

The Washington Nationals are moving into a brand new D.C. pleasure palace – one the people of D.C. were blackmailed into paying for and building. But for once, I’m not going off on that. I’ve got another problem.

The Baltimore Sun architecture critic writes glowing things about the new place, saying, “It's close to downtown and open to the sky, and features sweeping views of the city beyond. There's an asymmetrical field with enough nooks and crannies to keep the game interesting - plus a state-of-the-art scoreboard, luxury skyboxes and all the creature comforts fans could want.”

It’s nice it’s got a state-of-the art scoreboard. I’m big on scoreboards – especially when they’re used for baseball stats and not stock tickers. (Boy, just think how depressing it might get around MMP this season. You can watch the team sink in the standings while the value of your 401K drops to depths heretofore uncharted.) And I’m glad the place has all of the creature comforts fans could want: Of course, the guy doesn’t define those comforts. I for one consider the proper creature comforts to be good seats with decent leg room, and well, that’s about it. I just want a decent seat with lots of leg room. I’m there to watch baseball.

I’m bothered by a few things. The luxury boxes, for instance, are grouped behind home plate. Why? The pricks who get luxury boxes don’t watch the games. They’re networking. Making deals. Getting drunk. Even though the seats immediately behind home plate at MMP aren’t luxury boxes, they’re really expensive, and half the time those seats are empty. When they’re not empty, the camera generally shows us Drayton chatting up some politician or some rich bastard. There’s never anybody there actually watching the game. So why are the best seats in the stands being wasted for luxury boxes? Why aren’t the luxury boxes shoved up high, and in the outfield? Why aren’t the real baseball fans offered the home plate seats? They actually want to watch the games. They’re the ones actually paying money to watch awful baseball teams play. In three years, if the Nationals aren’t winning, the boxes will be empty, but look in the outfield and the upper deck, there will be baseball fans. They deserve to be rewarded for once.

But I can live with that – the real fans are always going to be screwed. What really bugs me is the part about “enough nooks and crannies to keep the game interesting.” What do nooks and crannies have to do with keeping the game interesting? A ball getting bouncing around funny corners while outfielders try to get to it is not interesting. It’s pathetic. Does the left field wall at MMP really make the game more interesting? Think about it: At one point, Carlos Lee stands with his back to that stupid MMP scoreboard, but if he moves a foot to his left, there’s nothing but empty space. Does this really make the game more interesting? Does that moronic hill in center help with the enjoyment of the game? Or that flag pole?

One of my favorite ballparks is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Though opened in 1973, this facility is far superior to many of the new ones. It’s a graceful stadium with great sight lines and very nice seats. The outfield doesn’t have any odd angles or jutting corners. Sure, there are the fountains over the outfield walls, but they don’t interfere with the game. That stadium exists to serve the game; it doesn’t exist to be part of the game.

If you need hills and jutting corners and flagpoles and odd angles and nooks and crannies and stock tickers and 30 kinds of food and wireless connections and funny videos, then do me a favor: Stay the fuck home. I’m sick of morons like you ruining my game experience. I want to watch guys play baseball. I want to see the score on the scoreboard. I want to see player stats. I want to see a replay on the DiamondVision, not the Kiss-Cam sponsored by match.com.

Maybe the Nationals’ new stadium will be really nice. Maybe it will be like Kauffman Stadium. Or Coors Field which I love. Or Dodger Stadium. But reading about it, I fear another MMP-type monstrosity. Then again, as long as the Nationals stadium doesn’t have any choo-choo trains in left field, it’s already a huge improvement over MMP.

But then again, what isn’t? – John Royal


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