Ahead of the season opener for the Washington Nationals this week, Post columnist Marc Fisher penned a good piece over the weekend on how the team’s arrival in D.C. in 2005 has changed the city, notably the area around the new stadium. Buried at the end of the long article, though, was an interesting tidbit that has been generating some discussion:
Nationals officials say fans coming to games are about 60 percent from Virginia, 25 percent from Maryland and 15 percent from the District. That means city residents are slightly overrepresented, Marylanders lag well behind, and Virginians make a strongly disproportionate contribution to city coffers.
The idea that the team may well be the NoVa Nats more than the Washington Nats has provoked some discussion (including by the Post’s own NoVa blogger) as to why our hometown team seems to appeal to Virginians more than District residents. One theory: It’s an easy trip to the stadium from Virginia (at least relative to parts of Maryland), and Virginians haven’t had a team to cheer for at all (while Maryland has had the Baltimore Orioles). That doesn’t really explain the low D.C. attendance, though. The trip to the stadium should be easiest for all of us, after all.
Generally speaking, every “Washington” team will have cross-jurisdictional appeal, and in some cases, multiples home bases. The Redskins plays in Maryland and train in Virginia, but D.C. lawmakers are constantly trying to get them back. The Caps and the Wizards are the only teams of their type in the tri-state area, so their fans likely cross over too. (The Caps train in Virginia.) D.C. United certainly has a fan base in D.C., but their legion of fanatics drive in from around the region to see them play.
As for the Nats, well, maybe D.C. residents had been denied baseball for such a long time that they just don’t really care that much. This is also a relatively transient town, so it can be tough to develop a committed fan base. (Wonder why the Phillies may well successfully occupy Nats Park in May?)
[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at DCist.com.]