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Nationals Park infiltrated by Phillies fans on opening day

"These problems dissipate as teams improve," Nationals President Stan Kasten said, "as home teams followers get more numerous and more enthusiastic."
"These problems dissipate as teams improve," Nationals President Stan Kasten said, "as home teams followers get more numerous and more enthusiastic." (Jonathan Newton/the Washington Post)
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The hordes from Philadelphia left many Nationals fans with an impression that the organization had sold droves of tickets to Phillies fans at the expense of Nationals fans who wanted to buy tickets but could not.

"By making them available to fans in Philly, they were no longer available in D.C.," Furth said. "They have seven minutes worth of tickets available. People in Philly, they had 20,000. They had lots more than seven minutes."

A sampling of other teams' policies shows a narrower gap between when group sales and individual sales begin. The Tampa Bay Rays sell put their group and individual tickets on sale on the same day in February. Orioles group tickets went on sale in mid-January, and their individual tickets started selling at the end of January.

The Nationals said the raiding of Nationals Park was not a product of policies that favor opposing fans, but rather another growing pain for a franchise five years old and coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons.

"As anyone who has watched bad teams turn into good teams, in any sport, these problems dissipate as teams improve, as home teams' followers get more numerous and more enthusiastic," Kasten said.

Kasten also said the nature of Phillies fans contributed to the feeling Monday at Nationals Park. He said that Red Sox fans had attended in even greater numbers Saturday for an exhibition game, but there was a "tangible, qualitative difference in the two crowds."

But there also is a difference between how hometown fans feel during an exhibition and their team's opener. In Baltimore, the Orioles make opening day tickets available only to their own season-tickets holders. Even if the Orioles played the Red Sox, an official in the Orioles ticket office said, their park could not be overrun on opening day.

During pregame introductions at Nationals Park Monday, Phillies fans booed Nationals staff and players and chanted "Sucks!" after the public announcer bellowed each name.

"That was impressive," Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth said. "It felt like all of right field was only Phillies fans. This kind of started to be our home away from home a little bit."


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