Stephen Strasburg shook off a shaky inning to earn the win, Bryce Harper homered and made a run-saving catch before crashing into the wall, offseason acquisition Adam Lind delivered the go-ahead, pinch-hit home run and newly anointed closer Blake Treinen worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to nail down the Nationals’ first curly W of the season. It was an almost perfect Opening Day at Nationals Park … until one ventured onto the concourses in search of food or beer.
The @Nationals’ mentions on Twitter were flooded during the game with complaints about long lines, rude staff, credit card and eCASH machines being down and ATMs being out of service. I walked the upper and lower concourses during the fifth inning and the lines at most concession stands resembled the typical line at Shake Shack, stretching well beyond the stanchions in front of the registers. It’s one thing to choose to sacrifice half an inning while waiting for a ShackBurger; it shouldn’t take 45 minutes to get a Nats Dog or a $9 Bud Light, as multiple fans claimed it did Monday.
Everyone, most of all the Nationals Park concession workers, probably would’ve benefited from a dry run during last Friday’s exhibition game that was canceled due to rain. When asked about Monday’s issues, which were worse than any game at the ballpark that I can recall, the Nationals issued the following statement through a spokeswoman:
“We pride ourselves on offering a first class fan experience. Today we fell short. We encountered technical problems resulting in long lines and frustration at concession stands around the ballpark. We are working to identify the issues and implement solutions before our game on Wednesday.”
The statement also addressed Monday’s Magic 8-Ball giveaway. Rather than receive the promotional item when they entered the ballpark, as usual, the first 20,000 fans through the gates were given a voucher that could be redeemed at the Center Field Gate starting in the bottom of the seventh inning. As a result, there was confusion, and more waiting in lines of shuffling people to leave the park after the game.
“In addition, MLB guidelines require us to give away certain types of items on egress,” the Nationals’ spokeswoman said in the statement. “We apologize that this caused confusion in center field plaza after the game and will ensure that we communicate the process more clearly in the future. We appreciate our fans attending Opening Day and sharing their passion for baseball. We are constantly working to improve the fan experience and look forward to an exciting season.”
So, Magic 8-Ball, will the service at Nationals Park be more fan-friendly on Wednesday? Ask again later.