The Washington Nationals are in the playoffs, and there’s no hotter ticket in town. But it looks like you won’t be able to beseech your elected officials for free ducats, because under the city’s agreement with the team, they won’t be getting any.
The city’s control of a ballpark suite and 25 prime infield tickets has provided no shortage of political intrigue in the four years since the ballpark opened. But the city is guaranteed free seats only during regular season games. For playoff or All-Star games, the city has to pay to keep its usual seats.
It’s all laid out in the 2006 stadium lease, Article 8, Section 4:
In the case of any Post Season Game or All-Star Game, the Commission shall have the right to purchase (with no Seat License charge or cost) the Commission’s Suites Tickets and the 25 additional box seat Tickets and related parking, and in no event shall the Commission be treated less favorably with respect to the allocation of such Ticket purchase rights or the price of the Tickets than paid holders of Suite or box seat season Tickets in the Baseball Stadium.
“Commission” refers to the old D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission (now Events DC) which negotiated and signed the lease; the tickets belonging to the commission are passed on to the mayor and council, who in turn, when not using them themselves, pass some out as political chits and donate others to constituents and community groups.
So politicos could pony up to keep their tickets, but will they? No way, said the city’s top officials.
“The city has more important things to spend its money on,” said Pedro Ribeiro, spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “If people want to see a playoff game, they can go purchase a ticket.”
What about the D.C. Council, which shares the regular season tickets with the mayor?
Chairman Phil Mendelson said he’s of like mind with Hizzoner: “I don’t see the justification for the city expense,” he said. “I don’t see an argument for the mayor or council buying tickets.”
And if you think the Nationals should offer the city tickets anyway, think some more: “I’m told even the Lerners don’t control the tickets for the postseason,” Mendelson said. “It’s just a very different operation.”
Events DC, the quasi-independent body that handles stadium matters, probably isn’t going to pony up for tickets either, CEO Greg O’Dell said. “My sense is, they are probably too expensive, but I’d have to take a look at it,” he said. “I would be concerned about the costs and whether we could justify the use of them.”
That leaves politicians to either scrounge for tickets like Average Joes and Janes or seek a generous patron’s invitation. Mendelson has he’s had “vague conversations” about attending a game as a guest — something, he said, he’d be sure to report on his financial disclosure form.
”It certainly would be exciting,” he said.