Located in the Navy Yard on the Anacostia River, Nationals Park is the home of the MLB franchise Washington Nationals. Built in 2008, it is a spectacular baseball stadium at the heart of Washington D.C. and the first LEED-certified green ballpark in the United States. The ballpark has won accolades for its unique infrastructure, fascinating view of the city skyline, and vast playing field. Nationals Park is one of eight ballparks without a corporate name. It is also the fifth to have the name of the MLB franchise after Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Oriole Park in Baltimore, and Yankee Stadium in NYC.
The Nationals moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005. Originally, the franchise located in Montreal was called the Montreal Expos. In 2004, the national capital announced the plan to build a new baseball stadium to lure the Expos looking for a suitable ballpark to relocate. The announcement had the desired effect and the Expos moved to Washington D.C. and became the Nationals. They played at RFK Stadium until the opening of Nationals Park.
A site near the Anacostia waterfront was selected and the new stadium’s design went public in March 2006. Following the resolution of funding issues, the construction started in May that year. A design-build approach was employed ensuring a close collaboration of architects and builders. It took less than two years to complete Nationals Park, tat witnessed the inaugural game on March 22, 2008.
Design and Features
Nationals Park has many outstanding features that attract baseball fans from all over the world. The ballpark is quite spacious and is the eighth-largest in the American League with a seating capacity of 41,339 people. It has 79 luxurious suites each exuding an elegant design that allow a fantastic place to stay and watch the action in the field. The seating arrangements are spread across four physical zones and 12 pricing zones. The two-story, 33,000-square-feet Norfolk Southern Club has an indoor lounge overlooking the Anacostia River. At the field level, there is another luxury seating club The PNC Diamond. The super-luxurious Delta Sky360 Club boasts the costliest seats at Nationals Park. A section of the upper deck of the ballpark is named after the former wooden baseball arena Griffith Stadium.
In January 2022, Nationals Park became the first MLB ballpark to have a sportsbook – BetMGM Sportsbook – in MLB. It has 40 big-screens showing games with live odds. There are also six betting windows.
The concession area includes a large assortment of food and beverage stands. Budweiser Brew House is a fan favorite for its tastiest hotdogs and burgers served along with the salad. This restaurant has retractable glass windows and three rows of tables that provide a great view of the game.
Nationals Park’s upper deck offers a glimpse of the Washington Monument and Capitol building. The 103-feet scoreboard is among the largest in the US ballparks. The scoreboard is positioned on the right-field wall. The park also has LED boards for displaying messages, information, and instruction for visitors. A grove of cherry blossoms planted near the left-field adds to the beauty of the park and reminds the cultural association with Washington, D.C.
Since 2010, Nationals Park has had a monument called The Ring of Honor – a circular space on the façade above the field-level stand behind the home plate. It bears the name of the greatest players and managers associated with the home team Washington Nationals, their previous incarnation the Montreal Expos, and Washington Senators that were based at the national capital until 1971. The Ring also pays tribute to greats of the Negro Leagues’ Pittsburgh-based franchise Homestead Grays, who adopted D.C.’s Griffith Stadium as their “home away from home” between 1938 and 1950.
A submarine-dive horn is another very unique feature at Nationals Park. With every home run or win by the home team, the baseball stadium celebrates it with the submarine-dive horn. W-Fi, guided tours, and private tours are available for fans. The PenFed Kids Fun Zone is the place for children below 11 years to enjoy a day of play. The ballpark also has a 15,000-square-feet Strike Zone offering a vista of entertainment, such as a restaurant, karaoke station, children workshop, baseball cages, and a plethora of facilities for families.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- Nationals Park was the venue for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game and the 2019 World Series.
- The 2018 All-Star Game came to Washington, D.C., was the first in the last 50 years while the 2019 World Series was the first in 95 years. The national capital hosted the 1969 All Star Game and the 1933 World Series.
- In the 2019 World Series, the Washington Nationals lost all three home games played at Nationals Park. However, they won all four away games against the Houston Astros to win the series.
- About $85 million was spent on transportation, decoration, and infrastructure in the ballpark. The first two seasons at the baseball stadium saw Nats Express” free-shuttle services for fans.
- Nationals Park not only has the LEED certification but also offers free valet bicycle parking for cyclists to encourage eco-friendly fans.
- On March 22, 2008, the inaugural game saw the George Washington University beating the Saint Joseph’s University 9-4,
- The Washington Nationals played the first game at their new home ground on March 29, 2008, winning 3-0 against the Baltimore Orioles.
- The first MLB game at National Park played on March 30, 2008, witnessed a tough competition and the Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-2.
- In the season opener, the honor to throw the ceremonial pitch went to then US President George W. Bush.
- The Nationals won the first MLB game with Ryan Zimmerman stealing a home run. This was MLB’s third-ever walk-off home run in an inaugural game.
- The opening game on March 30, 2008, broke all ESPN viewership records for the first game in a stadium.
- Despite a rousing start, the Washington Nationals finished 2008 season 59–102 registering the worst performance in their history.
- In 2009, the ballpark got statues of “Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson, star for the expansion Senators Frank Howard, and Josh Gibson, who played for Homestead Grays.”
- The Philadelphia Phillies’ announcer Harry Kalas died in the press box just before the 2009 season opener game.
- Anthony Rendon scored three home runs and 10 RBIs during a 23-5 slaying of the New York Mets on April 30, 2017. He was the third among the Nationals and 13th in the MLB to make three homers in a single game. The feat of 10 RBIs in one game was also first in the last 10 years. Walker Cooper of the Cincinnati Reds was the only other player to score three homers and 10 RBIs in one game.
- Randy Johnson of the Nationals pitched his 300th win on June 4, 2009, in a rain-delayed loss to the San Francisco Giants 5-1.
- Adam Dunn hit his 300th career home run on July 4, 2009. The Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3.
- Pitcher Stephen Strasburg achieved a rare strikeout record against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 8, 2010. He took out 14 batters for just two runs in seven innings.
- In 2011, the ballpark opened the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame and four more concession areas.
- The baseball stadium was renamed “Natitude Park” when it hosted the Philadelphia Phillies for a series on May 4, 2012. The word was an expression of the Nationals’ grit and attitude exhibited in 2011. The 2011 season in 80-81 record in putting a break on continued 99 loses in each of three preceding seasons. It immediately caught the attention of fans and the media turning to become an instant hit. According to the New York Times, “The Nationals are playing with a new swagger that inspired their new slogan, Ignite Your Natitude, a call to fans to fill the stands and drown out the sizable groups who root for the visiting team.”
- In 2016, “One Pursuit” took the place of “Natitude.” However, the popular promotional slogan made a comeback in 2019.
- In the 2012 National League Division playoffs, the Nationals narrowly lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2. In the 2014 NL playoff series against the San Francisco Giants, the home team lost 3-1. The Nationals again lost the 20016 playoffs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the 2017 playoffs, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals.
- There was a $300-million proposal in 2013 to convert Nationals Park into a baseball stadium with a retractable roof. But it didn’t materialize.
- The Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series, 2019 NL pennant, and East Division titles in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
- After each Sunday afternoon home game, the Nationals Park hosts a base-running for kids aged less than 12 years.
- Only two players, Jordan Zimmermann and Max Scherzer, both from the home team ever threw out no-hitters at Nationals Park.