Nationals Park: 60% of attendance from NoVa


Stephen Strasburg pitching in his major league debut, June 2010. Sixty percent of those in attendance are typically from Virginia, Nats officials say. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“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.”

Wow. Made me think back to NoVa’s serious push to get the team a few years ago, and surprised that D.C. has shown so little support for the Nats. Four times more people from across the river, where there is no direct Metro line and weeknight traffic into the city is thick?

I asked Fisher for more info, which he promptly provided. But I’d also be interested in hearing your theories on why Northern Virginians buy a huge majority of Nationals tickets.


Nationals Park, August 25, 2011. Virginians are largely the ones buying the $8 beers and paying $25 to park, the Nats say. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Feffer also said that the Orioles created some lasting loyalty during the 34 seasons that D.C. was baseball-free. And so even though the Orioles are now one of the most poorly run, utterly hopeless franchises in Major League Baseball, it’s still an easier run to Camden Yards for Marylanders.

Fisher points out that getting from Virginia to Camden Yards on a weeknight eventually became a logistical nightmare, and the trip back got us home too late. He wonders if Virginians go to bed earlier than District or Maryland folks, and so prefer the 7 p.m. starts at Nats Park to staggering back home from Baltimore after 11:00.

I think it’s a combination of all of the above. A much closer ball park for Virginia residents than Marylanders. An earlier return home. A franchise that didn’t go out of its way to alienate fans and destroy the tradition of Brooks, Boog, Eddie and Cal.

But I’m not sure how that explains D.C. fans checking in at 15 percent. Fisher says that D.C. attendance is “overrepresented,”given the relative populations of the District and Northern Virginia. I would argue that given the stadium’s location inside city limits, the number of D.C. residents coming to games should be higher.

Is the attendance breakdown simply a factor of population? Is baseball’s appeal to city folk on the permanent decline?

I’m tired of walking through a wasteland without a single bar or restaurant near the ball park for five years now. If the Nats don’t become pennant contenders and the city doesn’t step up development, Virginia’s presence at the park will probably decline.


Opening day at Nationals Park last season. Other than a tent behind the left field gate, there remain no entertainment options outside the park. (Bill O'Leary/WASHINGTON POST)

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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