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Rooting for the Home Team

By John Kelly and Craig Stoltz
From the book "Kid-O-Rama"
Copyright 1998


The Big Four Pro Teams | Recent Pro Additions | Minor League Baseball

Outings with children to pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey or soccer games can be filled with memorable moments — the excitement of the crowd, the whole family pulling for the home team, the sense of the entire community coming together. The games also offer lessons for kids, from mastering the math of scoring and the strategies of coaching to understanding that hard work pays off and that heroes and heroines come in all colors and nationalities. Not least, kids may learn that loyalty means sticking with your team even in the worst of times (some Washington-area teams have seemed devoted in recent years to instilling that principle).

Thanks to intense competition for family leisure dollars, nearly every pro sport also has pumped up the "entertainment factor" of games. With improved food service, pre-, mid- and post-game contests, endless mascot hijinks and prize giveaways, thumping music, cheerleader performances and video screens that kick out great shows unto themselves, most pro sports games have been transformed into far more complete entertainment experiences. While purists may look back wistfully on the days when people just rooted for their team and filled out scorecards, few families with kids will feel that way.

The problem with most pro games, however, is expense or, with the Redskins, the inability to get tickets at all. Excluding perhaps some astronomically priced seats, Redskins games have long been sold out before the season begins. At Camden Yards, on the other hand, a family of four with mid-priced seats for Baltimore Orioles baseball is likely to drop $100 to $120 or more by the time admission, food, parking, transportation and incidental costs are all tallied. Nor are visits to the MCI Center for Wizards games or Washington Capitals hockey face-offs exactly inexpensive.

That's one reason why the arrival of new pro teams with cheaper tickets — DC United of pro soccer and the Washington Mystics of women's basketball — has been such a boon. It's also one reason why the region's minor league teams are so alluring.

Since most people know lots about our area's Big Four sports franchises, we have provided only brief information about their games and costs (for all pro games, tickets also are available, with a service charge, from TicketMaster, 202/432-7328, 703/573-7328, 410/481-7328). Some franchises, though, offer things other than games, and we have included their museums and a special stadium tour that are likely to intrigue kids. Finally, we examine the minor league teams. A nice way to introduce kids to sports is by starting with one of these inexpensive alternatives. Take a picnic to a minor league game, ride the carousel that many parks have and enjoy.

The Big Four Pro Teams | Recent Pro Additions | Minor League Baseball

The Big Four Pro Teams

Jack Kent Cooke Stadium MCI Center Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Washington Redskins Washington Capitals Baltimore Orioles
  Washington Wizards Oriole Park Tour
  MCI National Sports Gallery Babe Ruth Birthplace and Official Orioles Museum

Recent Pro Additions

RFK Stadium MCI Center PSINet Stadium
DC United Washington Mystics Baltimore Ravens

Minor League Baseball

Local baseball farm teams go the extra mile to entice families. Bowie, Frederick and Salisbury all have relatively new stadiums that include carousels, playgrounds and other kid-friendly features. Alcohol-free family sections keep rowdy fans at a safe distance. Tickets are cheap (as little as $3 and not more than $12), and kids under 5 get in free. So do kids 6 to 12 at Bowie, Frederick and Salisbury if they're wearing uniforms from an organized athletic league.

Maryland Virginia
Bowie Baysox Potomac Cannons
Frederick Keys  
Hagerstown Suns  
Delmarva Shorebirds  

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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