Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Talk About Your Fair Weather Fans!

We spent more than 30 years without baseball in DC, and many people in our area found that to be an outrage. I was not one of them. Except for the Redskins, Washington has always been a lukewarm sports town - in part, because a lot of the people who came through our area are transients (actually, that's more myth than fact), and in part because DC has always been a roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-6 pm kind of town. The Senators left in 1971, but within a year or two, I became an Orioles fan and never looked back. Memorial Stadium was closer to my home in Montgomery County than RFK was anyway... Fast forward to 1992 - Orioles Park at Camden Yards opened to hugely successful reviews, and suddenly, the baseball world became enamored with the whole "Field Of Dreams" notion that "if you build it, they will come". New stadiums started popping up all over the place, and in most, but not ALL cities, they were also key to driving up attendance. So how about the new Nationals park? It opened to rave reviews, and a near-sellout (that's right - there were a few empty seats for the debut)... And for game two? Well, the announced paid attendance was 20,487 - less than half of the stadium's 43,000 seat capacity. Mind you, major league rules dictate that attendance be counted by number of tickets sold, NOT actual butts in seats... So it's VERY likely there were fewer than 20,000 people in the place last night. Now, I will grant you... It was a chilly night and the game was played against the NCAA basketball championship. But if the Nats, current owners of a five-game losing streak, are in the basement of the NL East by the all-star break, it's going to be a long, QUIET summer along the Anacostia... Hope DC got it's money's worth!

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