Lerner: It’s only the beginning
As the 2006 season and the second year of baseball’s return to the District comes to a close this weekend at RFK Stadium, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner answered some questions from columnist Thom Loverro of The Washington Times about his experiences since taking over the team in July and what fans might expect in the future:
Q: After the initial takeover and the big reopening weekend, was there any emotional letdown for you?
A: Are you kidding? No. This is an opportunity my dad (Theodore Lerner) has dreamed of since he was a little boy. It’s a dream that has always been with my sisters (Marla Tanenbaum, Debra Cohen) and me as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine ever having an emotional letdown from owning the hometown major league baseball club — the national pastime team — in the nation’s capital. No. There has been absolutely no emotional letdown. Besides, we still have a lot to do to make this franchise what we want it to be for the fans of the Washington, D.C., region.
Q: After nearly three months of ownership, has there been anything that has surprised you that you may not have been prepared for?
A: Only that there is so much to be done and, it seems, so little time to do it. There are quite a lot of moving parts to bringing the Nationals to where we want them — on the field and off. My dad, my brothers-in-law (Ed Cohen and Bob Tanenbaum), Stan Kasten (president and partner) and all our partners and staff find there are never enough hours in the day to do what we’d like.
Q: What has been the most satisfying parts of ownership so far in this short time? What have been the most frustrating?
A: It’s hard for us to imagine being really satisfied until the team is more competitive on the field and until we are in the new ballpark and can offer the fan experience we’ve always imagined. The most satisfying part of ownership is meeting the fans and seeing how enthusiastic they are about the possibilities for this team. The hardest part is being patient while we try to get it where we and the fans want it.
Q: Will there be any more changes in service or other issues at RFK Stadium for the final season?
A: Absolutely. There’s hardly a day that goes by when the organization — or a fan — doesn’t come up with a really good idea for making the ballpark experience better at RFK. We’re all looking forward to the opportunity to make some adjustments to the stadium in anticipation of this ownership’s first full season at RFK.
Q: Will there be any ticket deals offered next season that are tied to fans getting first crack at seats in the new ballpark?