Getting to Nationals Park for the 2013 baseball season


Nationals Park in Washington. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

As Nationals Park enters its sixth season, many stadium travel issues have resolved themselves, or have been resolved by baseball fans figuring out their best routes. But each spring brings something new — or at least some early-season confusion.

Fans will get their first crack at sorting it all out when the Nationals play an exhibition game with the Yankees at 2:05 p.m. Friday. The Nats open the regular season April 1 at 1:05 p.m. against the Marlins.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region. View Archive

In the meantime, here’s the annual study guide, with tips on getting to and from the park, whatever your method of travel.

Taking Metrorail

The Green Line’s Navy Yard station is the closest to the ballpark. The train platform can be jammed right before and after games. The Half Street exit is the nearest to the park and has the most escalator capacity. If the Half Street side is backed up after the games, consider walking east and across M Street to the station entrance at New Jersey Avenue.

Many fans switch train lines at Fort Totten, L’Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place. The latter two can be very crowded before and after games. Gallery Place can be especially difficult for fans switching to the Red Line toward Shady Grove.

After games, fans transferring to the Blue or Orange lines probably will be best off doing so at L’Enfant Plaza.

Fans heading for a Red Line destination on the eastern side of the line might be better off skipping the transfer at Gallery Place and instead continuing north on the Green Line to Fort Totten, even if that means traveling one or two stations back toward downtown on the Red Line.

Fans heading toward Alexandria or Springfield after games can change to the Yellow Line at L’Enfant Plaza. But they might be better off staying on the Green Line for one more stop and making their switch at Archives. Archives probably will be less crowded, and it has a center platform, so transferring riders can just walk across to their Yellow Line trains.

Using buses

These Metrobus routes serve Nationals Park: 74, A42, A46, A48, P6, V7, V8 and V9. Also, the District operates a Circulator bus route linking the Navy Yard station, the Eastern Market station and Union Station. The Circulator service hours are extended when the Nationals play.

Driving

Before and after games, traffic is particularly slow in the blocks around South Capitol and M streets, on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and on the 14th Street, Douglass and 11th Street bridges.

Street parking for nonresidents near Nationals Park is banned or very expensive all the way north to Capitol Hill.

Off-street parking options, both in the official Nationals lots and in unofficial cash lots, are plentiful.

The lots and garages are north and east of the stadium. Parking prices at the official lots range from $10 to $45 for single games, depending on the distance from the stadium. Fans can buy single-game parking in the Nats’ official lots in advance by going to the team’s Web site at ­washington.nationals.mlb.com and clicking on the “Nationals Park” menu.

The economy lot under the Southwest Freeway (I-395) at South Capitol Street is no longer part of the official Nationals parking system, though it will still be available for game parking.

The official economy lot, the one you can buy a space for online, is the W lot, at Seventh and M streets SE, about three quarters of a mile from the center field gates.

Taxi

After the game, cabs will be at the taxi stand on the north side of M Street SE between South Capitol and Half streets SE. Taxis can pick up riders there beginning about two hours after the first pitch and continuing till a half-hour after the game ends.

Access for people with disabilities

Passengers can be dropped off along First Street SE or along South Capitol Street near the stadium’s two accessible elevator entrances. After games, passengers may be picked up at the South Capitol Street location.

Some accessible parking is available for single games in garages B and C. Fans must have valid disabled parking placards or license plates, as well as their single-game parking pass purchased from the Nationals.

Biking

There are more than 250 bike racks around Nationals Park. In addition, the park has a free bike valet in Garage C at First and N streets SE. The valet takes bikes two hours before the game starts and closes an hour after the last inning.

Capital Bikeshare has three stations very close to the stadium: The racks at First and K streets SE, M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE and First and N streets SE. There are also other stations, such as those at Fourth and M streets SW and at Third and G streets SE, just a short walk away.

Walking

There are several easy walks from Metro stations and spots near the Mall and Capitol Hill. Here are a few possibilities:

From L’Enfant Plaza, head south on Seventh Street, turn left on I (Eye) Street and continue south on Sixth Street to M Street SW. Turn left and walk to South Capitol Street.

From the Federal Center SW station, head west on D Street, turn left to go south on Fourth Street, make a left on I (Eye) Street, a right on Third Street and a left on M Street SW.

If you’re near the Capitol or the Capitol South station, you can just mosey on down South Capitol Street. But it would be better to take New Jersey Avenue down to M Street SE and make a right.

From Eastern Market, head south on Eighth Street and turn right onto M Street SE.

Ferry

The Potomac Riverboat Co. operates a boat from Old Town Alexandria to select games. If you travel from Alexandria and buy your ticket online, there’s free parking near the waterfront. You can also grab a boat from National Harbor to Alexandria before hopping on the baseball boat. For schedules and pricing, check the company’s Web site at www.potomacriverboatco.com.

American River Taxi plans to operate a water taxi between Georgetown, the Southwest Waterfront and Nationals Park. For more information, check the company’s Web site, at www.americanrivertaxi.com .

Other resources

For all sorts of detailed information about the ballpark neighborhood and the transportation network, check www.jdland.com.

The site was a valuable resource in preparing this page. It’s operated by Jacqueline Dupree, who works at The Post but produces the neighborhood Web site as a labor of love.

Another helpful resource for getting around the neighborhood is the Web site of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District at ­www.capitolriverfront.org.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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