- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Washington Nationals and half of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Cabinet are ironing out plans to beef up security, vendor inspections and traffic control in and around Nationals Park next week when the city hosts its first baseball postseason game in almost 80 years, officials said Wednesday.

The Nats will begin their postseason run Sunday in either Atlanta or St. Louis before returning to South Capitol Street for their first home game on Wednesday after clinching the top playoff spot in the National League with a victory Wednesday over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Mr. Gray’s office said efforts to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment around Nationals Park will cost the city up to $75,500 per game this month, although the Nats are only guaranteed one playoff match in front of the home crowd if they drop the first two games as visitors in the best-of-five Divisional Series.

Despite the cost, Mr. Gray is confident the city will make up the money in game-related sales-tax revenue at the stadium and local businesses.

A spokesman for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi has said it is difficult to estimate the amount of revenue the city will garner from the playoffs. No real precedent exists, after years of losing seasons since the franchise moved from Montreal to the District for the 2005 season.

“I don’t know precise numbers. We’ll be working on that, obviously,” Mr. Gray said at his biweekly press briefing on Wednesday. “But I’m absolutely certain that it will be enough to cover the cost of this.”

Mr. Gray said the much-improved Nationals have attracted sell-out crowds on multiple occasions this year, but playoff baseball brings a degree of tension and a much larger media presence to the park. His administration, led by City Administrator Allen Lew, is looking at everything from the fan experience outside the stadium to staging areas for television satellite trucks.

“There’s a lot of logistical issues we’ve been focused on,” Mr. Lew said. “It’s not just some of the issues about who’s paying for what.”

The Metropolitan Police Department plans to send 55 officers on a 10-hour deployment for each postseason game at the stadium. Typically, the MPD dispatches 19 officers to each regular-season game.

But hundreds of officers from the MPD’s Civil Disturbance Units will be ready for deployment in case of spontaneous celebrations or unforeseen problems occur, said Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety.

“We will have the ability to pull other officers in, if needed,” Mr. Quander said. “There will be no disruption to normal police activities in the neighborhoods.”

The D.C. Department of Transportation will send about 60 employees — it would normally send 39 — to the stadium area for about eight hours for each playoff game, mostly to conduct traffic control.

The city’s Taxicab Commission will send eight hack inspectors.

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) will have eight staff members on hand around the stadium and “generally will be focused on enforcing vending licensing laws around the stadium, but particularly along Half Street,” agency spokesman Helder Gil said, referring to the busy pedestrian walkway from the Navy Yard Metro station to the stadium.

He said DCRA staff will work alongside MPD officers to make sure food and merchandise vendors hold valid licenses. Failure to comply with the licensing law is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.

The agency will also have an electrical inspector on hand to make sure temporary electrical work and connections are up to code, according to Mr. Gil.

The city’s presence at the stadium could enter the political realm, but in a more orderly fashion than the dispute between former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and the D.C. Council over the allotment of tickets to a luxury box at the stadium.

Mr. Gray’s chief of staff, Christopher Murphy, said the Nationals may offer postseason tickets to Mr. Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

“They put feelers out to see whether the mayor and chairman could attend, in their official capacities, as leaders of the city,” Mr. Murphy said Wednesday. “They are putting this through their own ethics counsel. We would do the same, to make sure it’s completely appropriate. We wouldn’t do so otherwise.”

Mr. Gray, a baseball fanatic, is already there in spirit.

“Wouldn’t it be something if we had a World Series between the Nationals and the [Baltimore] Orioles?” Mr. Gray told a crowd at his press event in Ward 7. “You talk about some trash-talking.”

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