Posted at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2008
by David Zingler
It's about 2:30 pm on Sunday, July 13 and I have just arrived in Washington, DC. After checking into my hotel, I quickly jump on the Metro and arrive at Nationals Park. The game is now in the 6th inning and the home team is down 5-0. Fans flood out of the ballpark.
Since this is the last game before the All Star break and my only chance to check out the new stadium, I attempt to purchase a cheap ticket. Unfortunately, there are none for sale - anywhere. I notice the team store is open however and enter. After browsing the merchandise for awhile - including a Cristan Guzman All Star jersey t-shirt (must be a contract year) - I notice security at the entrance into the stadium from the pro shop is lax. Fans are filing in and the ushers seem to be indifferent.
So, I casually make my break. Just as I am about two steps from my goal - thinking I am in, home free - a smug smile begins to appear on my face. At that moment however, I hear a voice, "Sir, can I see your ticket?"
I turn around to see a middle-aged, African-American man staring at me. "I tried to buy a ticket, but they aren't for sale anymore," I explain. The usher is friendly, but firm. After a little back-and-forth, I finally plead, "Can't you just let me in?"
He smiled and said, "Sorry young man, but there are cameras watching us right now." At that, I gave up.
I then decide to walk around the structure just to check things out; it is a nice place but nothing really impresses you. The adjoining parking lot obscures much of the stadium from the street and is not aesthetically pleasing:
The home plate entrance, is solid, but lacks the grandeur of many of the new parks:
After a few minutes, I am back right where I began - the centerfield entrance:
Just as I decide to head back to the Metro and get on with my day, I notice a ticket stub near the gate. I rush over, pick it up and head toward the pro shop stadium entrance. I see that same usher and, grinning like Joe Mauer holding a glass of cold milk, display my stub and exclaim, "I have a ticket!"
The usher chuckles and says, "Oh, you got one - go on in."
With a bounce in my step, I walk into the park - here is what I saw: