- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

HITS AND MISSES

The best and worst things about Nationals Park:

THE GOOD: LOCATION

Sure, it looks like a big construction zone now. But the area soon will become a major destination, with shops, restaurants and other entertainment tied to the redevelopment of the Anacostia Riverfront.

THE GOOD: SEATS

Few ballparks in the country will have seats as close as those at Nationals Park. A seat in the first row of the infield upper deck is just 158 feet from home plate. Most seats are at least 16 feet closer than at RFK Stadium.

THE GOOD: SCOREBOARD

The stadium’s high-definition video screen measures more than 4,700 square feet, making it one of the largest in all of baseball.

THE GOOD: CHERRY TREES

The Nationals have planted 14 of the world-famous blossoming trees at the main entrance to the ballpark. The trees are expected to be in full bloom for Opening Night on Sunday.

THE GOOD: CONCOURSES

The stadium’s concourses are spacious and wide open, with views of the playing field all around.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: THE SKYLINE

Perhaps over time, development in the neighborhood will create a beautiful ballpark backdrop. But for now, the tall buildings obscure most views of the Capitol and Washington Monument, and a larger concrete plant obscures the view of the Anacostia River. Furthermore, the team and city were unable to reach an agreement on placing parking at the site underground, resulting in the construction of two large concrete garages beyond the outfield.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: BUDGET PRESSURE

Officials insist there was little cost-cutting associated with the project, but they do acknowledge they saved some money by replacing granite, stone and glass with pre-cast concrete. And that change in materials is noticeable when looking at the ballpark’s facades.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: PARKING

It will be years before there is enough parking to handle the thousands of fans who plan to drive to Nationals Park. If getting to and from the ballpark is a hassle, that’s bad news for the team.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: NO DEFINING FEATURE

Camden Yards has the warehouse. Fenway Park has the Green Monster. What will Nationals Park be best known for? It’s unclear.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: CHERRY TREES

Sure, they’re great when they’re in bloom. But that’s for the first week of the season, if fans are lucky. The rest of the year, they’re just trees.

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