ANC Votes to Support Stadium Liquor License
Ballpark and Beyond is adapted from Jacqueline Dupree's blog on development in Near Southeast, an area between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River that is being transformed by the construction of the Nationals baseball stadium.
On Dec. 10, ANC 6D voted to support the application by Volume Services Inc. for a "CX Arena" liquor license at Nationals Park. This single license would cover all concessions at the stadium, including kiosks, restaurants, luxury boxes and the "Cold beer! Cold beer!" seat-side sales.
The ANC had asked representatives of the Nationals and concessionaire Centerplate to attend the meeting so commissioners could talk in greater detail about potential issues with alcohol sales at the ballpark. But it became a more freewheeling discussion between the team officials trying to assure nearby residents that the team wants to be a good neighbor and the commissioners, who say that the community has received very little communication from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and other city agencies about traffic, parking and other stadium-related issues.
Michael Shapiro, the Nationals' senior vice president for business affairs, spoke a number of times about the team's "sincere desire to become a member of the community," saying they want the neighbors to be proud of the new ballpark. Shapiro and Matthew Blush, director of ballpark operations, offered to meet on a regular basis with community leaders, an idea that appeared to be well received by 6D's vice chairman, Andy Litsky, who described ANC's dealings with the sports commission on ballpark-related issues over the past two years as a "horror show."
Gregory McCarthy, who is senior director of the Nationals' ballpark district dealings, spoke about parking and traffic issues, explaining that season ticket holders will be assigned to specific lots and will be given detailed instructions on the correct routes to use, to prevent the cut-through traffic and circling for on-street parking that the team says it will be actively discouraging. The ANC members made it clear that parking issues remain a huge concern for residents, and that they want to hear specifics soon about how game-day parking will be handled.
(It was a couple of days after this meeting that Ward 6 District Council member Tommy Wells described for the media his plan to handle on-street parking near the ballpark with kiosk meters on major streets that could charge as much as cash lots during baseball games, as well as meters on residential streets that would limit parking by non-residents to two hours. Wells expects to bring the plan to the D.C. Council in January, and said there would be community meetings about it as well.)
Shapiro and Blush described upcoming outreach efforts, such as bringing neighborhood kids to the ballpark for batting practice, getting jobs at the stadium for local residents and having "ambassadors" and security outside the ballpark itself before and after games, all as part of making "the building work for the community." Commissioners and audience members were particularly interested in job opportunities, expressing the hope that the Nationals will go beyond "hanging out a sign" to actively recruit nearby residents.
As for the liquor license, Shapiro indicated that most of the rules in place at RFK -- such as no alcohol sales after the seventh inning -- would be in place at the new ballpark, and suggested that the Verizon Center could be used as a guide for how to handle alcohol-related issues for non-baseball events such as concerts. (It wasn't discussed whether liquor sales will be an issue at the stadium's first non-baseball event, which is scheduled to be the April 17 Mass by Pope Benedict XVI.)
With concerns that protesting or otherwise hindering this application might spur the sports commission or the council to issue a liquor license outside the jurisdiction of the city's Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, the ANC gave its support for an ABRA-issued license in a 6-0 vote, with one abstention.
The license hearing is scheduled for Jan. 2.
The sports commission, the Nationals and community leaders were scheduled to meet again last night. Hopefully, it was not a horror show.
Jacqueline Dupree, a Post staff member, has been tracking the neighborhood's changes since 2003. For more information and photos, visithttp:/