- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

News yesterday that baseball is returning to the District has made residents living near Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Northeast happy, even those who recall parking and noise problems associated with Redskins and Senators games.

“I went to the last Senators game. My uncle took me. I was a little boy,” said Robert Walker, 38, who lives in the 200 block of 20th Street NE, within home-run distance of RFK.

“I’m definitely going to a couple games. I’ll just walk across the street.”

The last Senators game in the stadium was 33 years ago.

One lifetime baseball fan, who has been driving to Baltimore to see the Orioles play, said a new Major League Baseball team will be “putting a happier face on the city.”

The fan, who asked to not be identified, said, “I think Mr.[ Peter] Angelos was small-minded,” referring to the Orioles owner who has opposed relocation of the Montreal Expos to the District.

“It’ll be wonderful,” said Cheryll Wood. Her husband, Gerald Wood, agreed, saying, “I like baseball. We’re sure to go to some games.”

“They aren’t moving in. They’re just going to be playing a little baseball here,” Mrs. Wood said.

Years ago, baseball and football fans typically flooded the RFK parking lots and went to the nearest residential streets and alleys to park. Some residents rented their driveways or curb spots in front of their residences to sports fans. Some sold snacks, drinks or team signs.

“It was fine,” said Colette Davis, 56, who was born and raised in the area. But fans who parked in rented spaces in front of residences sometimes also were ticketed by police.

Today, there are signs of “No Parking, Special Stadium Armory events, except holders of special events parking permits” on neighboring streets.

“[Parking] hasn’t been so bad since the Redskins left,” Mr. Walker said. He explained that the professional soccer matches at RFK seldom had crowds that overflowed the parking lots.

Mr. Walker agreed with several other residents who said parking on Saturday may be an additional problem because of a flea market that has been operating recently on a corner lot within view of the stadium. Shoppers also have been parking in nearby residential areas because the lots nearest the flea market fill quickly.

“I still think it’s a good idea” to play baseball at RFK, said Kalombo Kalombo, 29, an immigrant from Central Africa who has lived in the United States for 25 years . He is a security officer at the parking lot at the end of 20th Street NE.

Two women who work on Capitol Hill and jog to the stadium during the noon hour said they approve of a new use of RFK. They have been going to Baltimore to watch the Orioles, but would prefer to watch RFK’s new tenants because the National League teams don’t have designated hitters for pitchers, as do American League teams.

“It seems all right,” said Ella Hopkins, 47, of the 2000 block of C Street NE.

“I remember the Redskins when they were there. But, I don’t go to many games.”

“But, I’ll go to it,” said her son, Ryan Younger, 11, who plays football. “I heard about the Senators.”

Neighbor Juanita Bradford, 70, said baseball in RFK will be “fine, fine. When they had the Redskins there, it was fine. I was here before the stadium went up.”

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