“A dump.” “A joke.” “Soulless.” “Regrettably Frigging Kaput.”
You name it and RFK Stadium has probably been called it this year. Shaped like an ash-tray and smelling like it in some spots, this multi-purpose, anachronism on the east side of the nation’s capital has been an easy target for its critics.
I’m not a ballpark expert by any means, but I attended eight Nationals games this year and can say with some confidence that the place is not quite as bad as some have portrayed it.
Here, then, are a few good things about RFK Stadium.
The new ballparks are great but one thing about them, from what I have experienced, is that the seats are cramped and the leg room tight.
Of course, it’s all relative to what you are used to. When my wife and me sat down at RFK for the exhibition opener back in April, I was impressed. The seats are wide and the leg room is great. And it doesn’t get bad in the high up seats either.
RFK’s concrete overhang is not much to look at but it does provide a lot of shade.
Closeness of seats to the action:
I can’t even spell cantilevering much less explain it. But it seems to me that most of the new ballparks don’t have it. That is, the upper deck is set back further. RFK’s upper deck is closer to the field than most that I’ve seen, at least in the area behind home plate.
As Andrew Clem notes, “RFK is the smallest stadium of this genre, which gives it a somewhat cozier feeling that greatly accentuated the noise level of Redskins games during their heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.” The acoustics are great and it really enhanced the cheering and sound from the speakers.
The seating in the lower bowl is portable. Fans sitting in them get the place rocking by stomping with their feet. A lot of the fans love this aspect, carried over from the Redskins days.
RFK Stadium has ample parking and costs 10 bucks. Tailgaters are out in the lots having loads of fun. The way it looks, the new ballpark won't have very much tailgating.
There are two lines of coverage (Blue and Orange) and the Stadium/Armory stop is a block away. It does get very crowded on the metro and after the game it’s a zoo. Note: DC Metro has some newer 6 car trains in use and plans to have some 8 car trains in service in 2006.
Every once in a while, I get a pang of nostalgia about Candlestick Park. By most accounts, it was one of the worst parks in the majors, if not the worse when it was cold and windy. But the thing about it was that those conditions created a certain kind of pride among Candlestickers. You went there for the baseball, not the park.
Once the new ballpark is built here in D.C., that is probably how the fans will look back at RFK. Not a beauty by any means, but not all that bad either.