Depending on whom you ask, the Nationals’ 5-2 loss to the Braves on July 6 last year was either one of the most frustrating or enjoyable experiences in team history. For fans at the game with children and those relying on Metro to get home, the 10:10 p.m. start following a three-hour rain delay lacking precipitation was a vexing nightmare and a waste of money. For fans who wandered into the stadium after 10 p.m. and those treated to free concessions, it was a sleep-depriving joy and a story to last a lifetime.
The Nationals still can’t control the weather, or guarantee their decision-making in conjunction with Major League Baseball’s meteorologists will be perfect, but they will offer some recourse for fans inconvenienced by weather delays going forward. Beginning this season, if a game is delayed by weather for more than an hour before the sixth inning, fans who purchased their tickets on Nationals.com may visit the box office outside Nationals Park on the day of the game and exchange their tickets for seats at a future game. Furthermore, fans who purchased tickets on Nationals.com to a game that is delayed by weather for more than hour before the sixth inning and who — perhaps after looking at the forecast — decided to stay home may exchange their tickets for seats at a limited number of future games. In previous years, tickets could only be exchanged if a game was postponed.
The Nationals’ weather guarantee is part of the team’s new “Curly W Commitment” announced Monday, an overview of the various services and opportunities available at Nationals Park based on fan feedback gathered year-round.
“We want to be the best fan experience in Washington, D.C., and we’re seeking to continuously improve and make investments toward achieving that goal,” Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer Valerie Camillo said. “We want to address any reason why people might choose another entertainment option over Nationals Park.”
Some of the other new initiatives for 2018 relate to discounted tickets and concessions, and are limited to fans who purchase tickets on Nationals.com. One game each month during the regular season will be designated a “Value Day,” with discounted tickets, concessions, merchandise and parking. The “Value Day” schedule has yet to be announced. Fans who purchase single-game tickets on Nationals.com before the home opener April 5 will receive a coupon for 33 percent off a ticket to the All-Star Game Fanfest, which will be held July 13-17.
Fans will be given the opportunity to apply food and beverage credit to tickets purchased on Nationals.com, which will entitle them to a discount of up to 15 percent. For instance, if you add $9 to your ticket order, the Nationals will load $10 of concession credit onto your ticket. Fans at the park who encounter a concession stand that is out of an item will receive a free coupon for the same item that may be redeemed at another concession stand that day or at a future game. Other changes for 2018 include an enhanced children’s play area in Center Field Plaza, a discount program for students with a college email address and the ability to order and pay for concessions at a kiosk in Sections 311 and 314. Beginning this year, fans may elect to pay to upgrade their seats through the MLB Ballpark app rather than purchasing an entirely new ticket.
The Nationals also announced they are improving their fan feedback capabilities, including for single-game ticket buyers who don’t have a designated account representative. The Nationals will unveil a new service number before Opening Day that will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. every weekday and during all home games until one hour after the game.
Nationals single-game tickets go on sale to the general public at noon Thursday. The New York Yankees series (May 15-16) and Boston Red Sox series (July 2-4) figure to be among the most sought-after games, and Camillo said ticket prices for those series will be 23 percent lower, on a weighted average basis, than what the Nationals charged for fans to see the Chicago Cubs last season. The cheapest tickets for the Yankees and Red Sox series will be $23, as opposed to $35 for last year’s Cubs series, which failed to sell out.
“We want the ballpark full every night,” Camillo said. “It creates energy and excitement and makes for a great environment for our fans and players, and it matters to the players that the ballpark is jumping and lively. We’ve gotten that direct feedback from the clubhouse.”
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