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Washington Offers a Feast of Athletic Events

With Return of Baseball, Sports Menu Is Complete

By Rich Campbell
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page DZ38

For the first time in 34 years, D.C. sports fans will have the opportunity this summer to root, root, root for the home team.

The Washington Nationals began play this season, marking Major League Baseball's return to the nation's capital. Formerly the Montreal Expos, the Nationals play in the National League's East Division along with the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins.


George Washington University's J.R. Pinnock scores over Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe in the 2004 BB&T Classic. (Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

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The Nationals will host those teams and others in 81 home games from April through October at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. RFK is a short Metro ride from the District's main tourist attractions and monuments. The stadium holds approximately 46,000 fans for baseball, and single-game tickets range from $7 to $45.

RFK is also home to D.C. United, the defending champions of Major League Soccer. United has a loyal, enthusiastic fan base that is routinely treated to some of the best soccer in the country. United's season runs from April through October and includes 17 home games. Single-game tickets range from $16 to $40.

Excellent basketball at several levels can be found in the District. MCI Center, the city's 20,000-seat downtown arena, is the first place to look.

The arena, which opened in 1997, is at Seventh and F streets NW and is easily accessed by Metro. Fans often take in a pregame meal at one of the many restaurants surrounding the arena, which is home to the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association, the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association, Georgetown University's men's basketball team and the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League.

The Wizards' resurgence during the 2004-05 season has energized the team's fans and excited the area. The Wizards host 41 home games each season from October through April, and each NBA team makes at least one visit per season to MCI Center. Single-game tickets start at $10.

The Mystics and the 12 other WNBA teams provide fans with some of the best women's basketball in the world. Single-game tickets start at $4.

Georgetown University plays in the Big East Conference, one of the strongest in all of college basketball. The Hoyas exceeded expectations in 2004-2005 under first-year coach John Thompson III.

The BB&T Classic is a four-team college basketball tournament that takes place annually at MCI Center in early December. The University of Maryland and George Washington University are local teams that participate every year, and the event in the past has included collegiate powerhouses such as the University of Kansas and the University of Connecticut.

The quality of high school basketball in the D.C. area is among the nation's best. The City Title game, which pits the champions of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference against each other, is the premier attraction. DeMatha, typically one of the country's strongest high school boys' basketball programs, won the City Title in 2005.

One of the marquee events in the nation's capital each fall is the Marine Corps Marathon. The race attracts a mix of some of the world's best distance runners, relatively inexperienced runners looking for a challenge and wheelchair competitors. The marathon starts and finishes at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn, but the course takes participants through the city and past many historic monuments.


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