- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

Nationals fans likely will be able to park near RFK Stadium and take a shuttle to the team’s new ballpark next year, but it’s still unclear how much they will be charged.

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which has oversight of the RFK lots, revealed yesterday that it will allow fans to park near RFK but has asked the team to pay as much as $5 a spot for the rights on game days.

The sports commission has offered to provide 1,000 spaces for free, while charging the team $5 a space for 2,500 additional spaces. The team, however, has argued against the $5 a space charge because it likely already will incur costs by operating the shuttle service.

The Nationals and the city have been scrambling to identify thousands of parking spaces in anticipation of Opening Day. They were dealt a blow when the U.S. Department of Transportation, located near the new ballpark, refused to allow the use of its parking garages, citing security concerns. Delays in upgrading the capacity of the Navy Yard Metro station also have complicated matters.

Last month, the Nationals distributed an online survey relating to parking at the new stadium and asked fans whether they would be willing to park at RFK and use a shuttle if it were free.

Meanwhile yesterday, sports commission officials said they have been asked by the Nationals to ensure the new ballpark is ready in time for a possible season opener on Sunday, March 30. Officials had hoped the team would start the season on the road, thus allowing an extra week to 10 days to make finishing touches on the stadium. But the March 30 date would allow the team’s debut in the new ballpark to be shown to a national audience on ESPN. Commission officials said an early opener would not pose a problem for the ballpark construction team.

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