Nationals fans looking for their first pregame drink this season will be in for a shock: Das Bullpen - picnic tables and imported brews in a lot across from the Navy Yard Metro -- is gone, and the Bullpen - beers, brats and music just steps from the center field gates - has evolved into something unrecognizable.
In an effort to pump up neighborhood business on non-game days, Bullpen creator Robert "Bo" Blair has retooled the parking lot into the Fairgrounds, an elaborate market built from recycled metal shipping containers. There will still be pregame happy hours, cornhole and live music, and on some game nights, ESPN is scheduled to broadcast from one of the shipping containers facing Half Street. But the Fairgrounds is also primed to draw visitors to the neighborhood when the Nats are far from home.
The corrugated metal boxes will be filled with merchants selling clothing, art, produce and flowers every day. The Bullpen bar opens daily at 11 a.m., and a few food trucks will be there on weeknights. "The more we get into [the summer], I think we'll also start to have music at happy hour on non-game nights," Blair says.
There will be a farmers market and dozens of vendors on Saturdays (organized by the people who run the flea market at Eastern Market) and a lunchtime concert series on Wednesdays from May through September. Truckeroo, the popular monthly food-truck festival, will return May 11.
Every Sunday starting May 6, a family day will feature carnival rides, games and kid-friendly music and entertainers.
(April 13, 2012)