- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

The Washington Nationals yesterday said they have reduced the price of tickets on nearly one-third of the cheapest seats at RFK Stadium for 2007, and are now selling partial season-ticket plans of 20 and 41 games.

The team said that prices for about 86 percent of the seats have been reduced or will remain flat, with the price of some tickets slashed by more than half. The only sections to increase in price are those located in the high-end Diamond Club and Field MVP sections.

“We are committed to offering tickets and ticket plans at a wide variety of price points so that the baseball experience is affordable for all fans throughout the Washington, D.C. region,” Nationals president Stan Kasten said.

The biggest price cuts will be to seats in the upper deck, where many seats were cut from $8 to $5, or from $9 to $7. The Nationals will sell 8,500 seats a game for $5, there will be least 5,000 other seats priced at less than $10. Unlike last summer, however, there will be no tickets priced at $3.

The price cuts come after a season in which attendance fell to about 26,600 a game from 33,650 in 2005.

Deposits for season tickets are being accepted now. Season-ticket prices will range from $5 a ticket for seats in the outfield upper deck, to $120 a ticket for seats in the PNC Diamond Club. Single-game tickets will range in price from $5 to $130, except for 16 “premium” dates, where prices will range from $9 to $140.

The Nationals said they soon will announce special benefits to season-ticket holders, including the ability to lock in priority for season tickets at the team’s new ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2008.

In other news, Nationals outfielder Alfonso Soriano earned the fourth Silver Slugger award of his career yesterday after being named one of the National League’s top three offensive outfielders.

Soriano hit .277 with 46 homers and 95 RBI in his first season with Washington to earn the award, which is voted on by major league managers and coaches. The fourth player in baseball history to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a season, he’s joined on the NL team by fellow outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jose Reyes, third baseman Miguel Cabrera, catcher Brian McCann and pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

Soriano previously won three American League Silver Sluggers as a second baseman (in 2002 with the New York Yankees and in 2004 and 2005 with the Texas Rangers), and it’s likely he’ll be shooting for his next one in yet another uniform. The 30-year-old has declared for free agency and beginning tomorrow is free to negotiate with other teams.

The Nationals held some preliminary contract discussions with Soriano shortly after the season ended, but he made it clear he wanted to test the open market. As perhaps the premier free agent available, he could command a deal worth more than $17 million a season over five or more years, and Washington is unlikely to match that kind of offer.

The Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees and Mets are among those teams expected to show interest in Soriano.

Staff writer Mark Zuckerman contributed to this article.

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