- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Washington Nationals are now airing commercials that urge their fans to travel to the new ballpark by helicopter and parachute onto the diamond in response to the dearth of parking spaces.

As you know, the city built a 41,000-seat ballpark on Half Street in Southeast but allocated only six parking spaces within a five-mile radius of the facility. This has led to a series of creative solutions, one of which is: Drive from your home to RFK Stadium and then kill a half-hour on the shuttle bus that will transport you to the Navy Yard.

Or you can walk from your home in the suburbs and play “chicken” with the rush-hour traffic on the 14th Street Bridge. Or you can travel by yacht and dock on the pristine shores of the Anacostia River. Or you can take a taxi to the ballpark, assuming the hacks are not on strike because of the grossly unfair switch to meters.

You possibly can take a chance to find parking in the neighborhoods abutting the ballpark. But consider the following a warning: The city has very complex rules and regulations that aid the parking process, plus an enforcement brigade that is the best in the world. For instance, it is against the law to park for more than 30 minutes in a neighborhood if there is a full moon.

If the city is under a snow-emergency alert, it is against the law to park anywhere, including in your home’s private garage. If your automobile has Virginia or Maryland license plates, the fines are doubled in the spirit of the commuter tax.



The city’s parking laws come with so many footnotes, exceptions and asterisks that the 13 members of the D.C. Council are allowed to park anywhere, any time, no questions asked, so long as they are on city business, which is all the time.

The city and the Nationals certainly are planning to test the well-worn line from “Field of Dreams,” which is: “If you build it, he will come.” He may try to come to the game. He may even get three-quarters of the way there. And then he just may give up at that point and return home in frustration.

Going to the ballpark is supposed to be a stress-relieving experience. Fans are not supposed to be handed a manual stuffed with dire instructions on how to get to the ballpark. It kind of defeats the tranquility of it all, of recording6-4-3 on your scorecard and the number of times the ballplayers spit, chew and scratch themselves in public.

And another thing: What is RFK Stadium still doing in the baseball discussion? Just when the Washington region thought RFK Stadium was gradually moving to the dustbin of history, it somehow finds a way to remain relevant. The old stadium is like Hillary Rodham Clinton in that regard. People can say what they want about RFK Stadium, and it has been called everything from a white elephant to a bladder-challenging venue in its long history — but it has parking galore.

Initial reports suggest that the new ballpark is a wonderful addition to the urban landscape, even if it has only six parking spaces, two of which have been sold to the Zipcar company. Just wondering, but did the planners remember to build more than one restroom?

The Nationals could become the first team to hold Survival Kit Day. The first 5,000 fans to show up to the ballpark would receive a can of Spam, a map of the Metrorail system and a $10 hotel voucher that can be used in the event of travel-induced exhaustion.

That is assuming the first 5,000 fans will not be stranded in a bunch of shuttle buses slowly inching their way to the new ballpark while the final out is being recorded.

Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd in a shuttle bus.

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