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Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 11:05AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 12:29PM
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Washington Nationals
RFK Stadium
Washington, D.C. :: Opened: 1961 :: Capacity: 56,000
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Average Ticket Price: $20.88
Average Cost of Concessions and Souvenirs: $86.00
How expensive is stadium parking?
• FREE: 6%
• $5-$10: 18%
• $10-$15: 43%
• $15-$20: 5%
• More than $20: 1%

Is public transportation a viable option?
• Never: 1%
• Worth it if you have a lot of time and patience: 9%
• A good option to avoid rush hour: 13%
• Pretty easy if you know the system well: 22%
• The only way to go: 27%

How would you rate traffic getting to and from the game?
To the game:
• A slow-moving parking lot: 5%
• Slow, but usually steady: 18%
• Moves well outside of rush hour: 31%
• Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 27%
• A smooth ride at all times: 9%

From the game:
• A slow-moving parking lot: 6%
• Slow, but usually steady: 29%
• Moves well outside of rush hour: 19%
• Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 28%
• A smooth ride at all times: 8%

How would you rate the number of restrooms for men and women?
• Bring a map: 4%
• It depends on your section: 24%
• Never more than a short walk away: 32%
• A satisfactory amount: 17%
• Plenty: 8%

How long is the wait to use a bathroom?
• Always available: 52%
• 1-5 minutes: 44%
• 5-10 minutes: 2%
• More than 10 minutes: 1%

How would you rate the variety of food/beer concession options?
• Limp hot dogs, bland peanuts, even blander beer: 29%
• Nothing fancy, but the staple foods are tasty: 24%
• A little variety of food and drinks available at specific locations: 30%
• A nice variety but locations are spread out: 13%
• You name it, they have it around almost every corner: 3%

How much will a meal at the ballpark cost you?
• $5-$10: 12%
• $10-$20: 70%
• $20-$30: 11%
• $30-$40: 4%
• More than $40: 2%

How would you rate the entertainment options aside from the game?
• Nonexistent: 26%
• So many games/promotions and scoreboard highlights that the game is lost in the background: 3%
• Typical mascot antics/scoreboard quizzes and fun music: 52%
• Some unique promotions/antics, but it sometimes distracts from the game: 4%
• A nice balance that draws your attention when the game is stopped but doesn't distract from the action on the field: 13%
The point of this place was to provide a venue for Major League Baseball's return to Washington, and in that task RFK has been successful. Charming? "It's one of the last of the great concrete behemoths," writes one fan. Intimate? "The ballpark is way too big," writes another. "Most seats do not face the pitchers' mound/home plate." Fun? "The stands in left field shake when the crowd gets excited and you can feel it all the way in the upper deck." One out of three isn't bad, right? Despite inheriting a park that is "old, large and spread out," team management receives good marks from Nats fans for "trying hard to make the experience a good one." Food service was upgraded this season ("worst dog in the majors"), adding crab cakes and chili from a local restaurant. Tailgating is in vogue in the parking lot, and upper-deck seats are kept at a very reasonable price. And because RFK was built before luxury boxes sent upper decks skyward, those cheap seats offer a pretty good view of the game. Still, the Nats have a lot of work to do in converting baseball fans into Washington fans. "Fans are slowly developing some character and our own cheers, but visiting teams still often draw large numbers of 'expatriate' fans who cheer for the team of their former cities," laments a Nats fan. "In the cases of Philadelphia and New York, the visiting fans tend to overwhelm the stadium." But the crowds like what they are seeing -- to an extent. "The new owners get that the game should not be the only piece of the entertainment dollar. That being said, RFK has to be the worst venue in MLB."
Have we mentioned that the Nats have new ownership, which is sure to build a gleaming new edifice in the very near future? Oh, you want to know about the current digs? RFK? Uh, "RFK neighbors include a closed-down hospital, a run-down neighborhood of row houses and a river." Maybe that doesn't paint the entire picture. "Do not walk out of the stadium into the neighborhood at night. Ever." That seems pretty definitive. Better you hop on the Metro and take it two stops to Eastern Market, which "has a plethora of bars/restaurants that cater to the stadium crowd, and even has some shuttles that will take you to the stadium."
2006 record: 61-82 (all statistics through Sept. 10)
Players worth the price of admission: Alfonso Soriano (.293 Avg., 45 HRs, 91 RBIs, 39 SBs), Nick Johnson (.295 Avg., 71 RBIs, 92 runs)
It could be worse; D.C. could be without a team. For all of RFK's problems -- bad neighborhood, little atmosphere, bland food, bad team -- it was a suitable enough venue to get baseball back to Washington. There aren't many cities with a spare 56,000-seat stadium around, and for that Washingtonians seem thankful. But the honeymoon won't last much longer. The bouncing stands that seem so quaint now won't be thought of so fondly if the team continually underperforms on the field and in the stands. It appears the club's new owners understand that, revamping the food service at the All-Star break as a gesture of goodwill. Now if they can just re-sign Alfonso Soriano, they'll be on to something.