The announcement, made at the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro station near Nationals Park, ends weeks of uncertainty over how fans would make it home if playoff games run past Metrorail’s normal closing time.
Even as the Nationals clinched a playoff spot and fought for a division title, the standoff over who should pay for extended service dragged on, with little sign that the District, the Nationals or Metro was willing to budge.
But LivingSocial contacted Metro this week to see whether the company could pick up the bill for extra service. A deal was finalized in the hours before Thursday’s late-afternoon news conference.
“People won’t have to worry about how they’re getting home,” LivingSocial’s founder and chief executive, Tim O’Shaughnessy, told reporters.
Under the agreement, which is like those for other events that begin early or run late, LivingSocial will put down the $29,500 deposit required by Metro to keep the trains running for an extra hour.
In announcing the deal, O’Shaughnessy was joined by representatives from Metro and the Nationals.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles praised LivingSocial as a great local company and thanked it for reaching out to the transit agency. Gregory McCarthy, vice president of the Nationals, called the agreement “win-win-win” for the fans, the city and the organizations involved. “We want you to stay as late as you like,” he said of fans.
LivingSocial is part of a wave of technology companies that have set up shop in the District in recent years, and this summer the D.C. government agreed to nearly $33 million in tax incentives to keep LivingSocial in the city. (O’Shaughnessy is a son-in-law of Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham’s.)
The Capitals and the Redskins, along with the Nationals and numerous other event organizers, have paid for the late-night service in the past.
When asked why the Nationals didn’t put up the money like other sports teams and organizations have, McCarthy said the team wanted more partners involved.
Joe Drugan, managing editor of the Nats Blog, called the decision great for LivingSocial as well as for the team. LivingSocial gets goodwill and positive press, and the Nationals found someone to foot the bill without letting this debate last any longer, he said.
“As long as they came up with a solution, it doesn’t matter what the solution is,” Drugan said.
The deal covers up to two hours of extra service for rides beginning at Navy Yard after weeknight games in October and November.
The first hour is technically from 11:20 p.m. to 12:20 a.m. because the last train connecting to other lines leaves Navy Yard at 11:20 p.m. If the game is still going at 11:45 p.m., the second hour is automatically triggered, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.