- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The Washington Nationals will begin sales of partial-season tickets tomorrow, a much-awaited move likely to push the club further up among Major League Baseball’s attendance leaders this season.

The Nationals have sold more than 18,000 full-season ticket plans but left some fans unhappy when demand for lower-bowl seating at RFK Stadium far outstripped supply. In part a response to that unrest, the Nationals will provide an exclusive four-day window starting at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow to buy 41-game and 20-game plans to the more than 23,000 fans who registered with the team for ticket information.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, the general public will be able to buy the partial plans.

Nationals executives expect sales of the partial plans, when combined with the full-season accounts already in place, will give Washington a guaranteed attendance of more than 1.75 million. Single-game and group sales during the season should add nearly a million more to the total.

“I fully expect that when this is done, we’ll be looking at about 22,000 full-season tickets equivalents in total as we approach Opening Day, and we’ll be in the top 10 across the major leagues in that category,” said Kevin Uhlich, Nationals chief operating officer.

The 41-game plans, which will include the April 14 home opener against Arizona, range in price from $205 to $738. The 20-game plans are priced from $140 to $400 and do not include the home opener but purchasers will have the option to buy that game as an add-on.

Single-game tickets are slated to go on sale in early March.

Meanwhile, industry sources said Infinity Broadcasting Corp. — more specifically the company’s WJFK-FM (106.7) station — has moved into lead status in the team’s ongoing hunt for a radio station to air its games.

The latest turn in the roller-coaster negotiations comes less than three weeks after Clear Channel Communications, long considered the front-runner to land the Nationals’ games, backed out of an impending deal with the club.

Team executives intend to announce a radio deal by the end of the week. Michael Hughes, Infinity senior vice president, confirmed he was still in talks with the Nationals but declined to elaborate.

If the Nationals sign a deal with Infinity and go onto WJFK, a late-summer conflict would arise because the station is also the flagship of the Washington Redskins. When both teams are playing, the Redskins would stay on WJFK and the Nationals would shift to classic rock station WARW (94.7 FM), also owned by Infinity.

The move would make the Nationals the only MLB team to have an FM station as its flagship radio home.

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