It’s nice seeing how the other half lives.
We had a great opportunity last week to get a behind-the-scenes tour of Nationals Park after an event hosted by Destination DC, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau. We saw the enclaves there that most of us with our nose-bleeder tickets never glimpse. So if you don’t have $5,000 for a suite, $300 for a field-level seat, or $150 for seats where waiters serve you your food, here’s a peek.
(First — a small tangent: the coolness of an utterly empty baseball stadium.) We arrived on a cloudy morning to a deserted park — architecture is so much a reflection of who uses it that when all those people are not there, the impact is so dramatically different:
The park yawns open in lonely splendor when you step inside beyond these gates:
Then we were directed through a small hallway, down an elevator, and into the Lexus Club for a catered breakfast buffet and networking session. But I was really looking forward to the tour that followed. Here is where you can stand with a Lexus ticket (which is now my new Facebook profile picture!):
And from there, you can peek right around the corner into the dugout:
While inside the President’s Club, you can look through these windows to see players warming up in the batting cages:
This area has a replica of the pitching mound:
And of home plate:
With a $150 ticket, you can get into the PNC Diamond Club just above the Lexus level. Not bad, for half the price:
A couple years ago, a friend gave us tickets to this section. There are menus at each seat and waiters bring your food. The ticket includes value to purchase the food, so you don’t need cash or a credit card. Here’s what Diamond Club members see from their seats:
Keep going up in the stadium, and you reach the private suites, which rent out for $5,000 per game. We were shown into Channel 7′s suite here:
You can take your cocktail and sit at this bar:
And see out to here:
There’s plenty of history to be learned in the park’s hallways and mezzanine, from the last time DC played in the World Series:
To an explanation of why baseball has hand signals, to aid hearing-impaired players, the first one of whom played for DC:
Still moving up, we were taken into the press box, named after baseball reporting legend Shirley Povich:
Here are all the pins he got from covering World Series:
Reporters can use these old-time lockers for their belongings:
Here is where they sit while covering the game:
Each news organization is assigned a specific seat. I found the Washington Post spot, smack dab in the middle, right over home plate:
Our guide saved the best for last on this tour — after we left the media box, we were led into the visiting team’s locker room, off a long tunnel big enough to drive the team bus into:
We clearly like to impress our visiting teams, as the first thing they see on entering are the signed jerseys from our most recent presidents:
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to turn all the lights on, so it was very dim, but easy to see the clublike interior with plush seats in the middle of a carpeted room:
Even better was the showers, which displayed clear evidence of regular use:
Here are the shelves with the Gatorade dispensers. I wonder which ones have been used to shower a coach’s head after a big win?
Rounding it off is the spiffy weight rooms for our guests, which is decorated by jerseys signed by our more popular visiting players:
We’re planning to see a game this Sunday, where once again we will be regular fans in regular nose-bleeder seats. But it’s cool to say I’ve been to the more glam sections of this park, even when empty! Here’s to a great summer, everyone.