Nationals Park

Located in Washington, D.C., Nationals Park opened during the 2008 season with a seating capacity of 41,222.  A construction marvel, the new stadium revolutionized ballpark design in many ways.  Unlike RFK Stadium, the previous home of the Washington Nationals, Nationals Park was designed in an asymmetrical manner, with a configuration intended to create more exciting plays in the field.  The ballpark also incorporates the city's identity, since fans in attendance are offered an excellent view of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and Washington, D.C.  Concessions and restrooms are located along the outer walls of the venue, allowing greater transparency so fans can see the game from virtually any area in the stadium.  Nationals Park also has a sunken field, allowing fans easier access to field-level seating.

With dimensions of 337 feet to left field, 377 feet to left-center, 402 feet to center field, 370 feet to right-center, and 335 feet to right field, one might assume that Nationals Park is a hitter-friendly park.  However, the stadium has failed to score higher than 1.000 in park factor (a park factor of 1.000 or higher causes the park to be deemed as hitter-friendly).  Nevertheless, since the stadium consistently draws a park factor rating close to 1.000, it is generally viewed as being somewhat favorable for hitters.


In 2009, Nationals Park installed three statues honoring Walter Johnson of the original Washington Senators, Frank Howard of the expansion Senators, and Josh Gibson of the Negro League Homestead Greys, who played many of their games in Washington.


On March 30, 2008, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park.  The first game provided the fans in attendance some memorable moments.  Washington Nationals hitter Cristian Guzman recorded the first hit in the history of the new ballpark (a leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning), and the Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones hit the stadium's first home run.  Nationals’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.


Nationals Park has served as host to several other milestones as well.  On April 17, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI held mass before 46,000 people in the stadium.  Nationals Park witnessed future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson's 300th career win (6-4-09) and Adam Dunn's 300th career home run (7-4-09).  Unfortunately, Nationals Park also witnessed a tragedy.  During the 2009 home opener, longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas was found unconscious in the press box at 12:20 PM.  Kalas was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and pronounced dead one hour later, at 1:20 PM.  The Nationals held a moment of silence before the game to honor Kalas.


Great transparency, easier access to field-level seating, and a breathtaking view of the city and its historical landmarks lead to an incredible viewing experience for fans at Nationals Park.  Mascots dressed up as former U.S. Presidents run races between innings and keep children entertained throughout the contest.  Nationals Park is a wonderful family environment for baseball fans to enjoy the sights of the city and the game as well.  The viewing experience will be all the more enjoyable once the home team's young talent develops into solid veterans and the team eventually becomes a contender.

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