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After backpack ban, Nats announce lockers will be available outside ballpark for a fee

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Last month, citing safety concerns, the Nationals announced that backpacks will not be permitted inside Nationals Park this season. On Wednesday, the team announced a couple of measures to help fans adapt to the unpopular change, though one of them will come at a cost.

Binbox, a D.C.-based start-up, will make 500 medium- and large-sized storage lockers available at the right field and home plate gates outside Nationals Park beginning with the Nationals’ exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 25. Binbox founder and chief executive Dan Flynn said the company plans to double the number of lockers available outside the ballpark on game days by June.

Nationals ban backpacks at Nationals Park

Medium lockers (10-by-15-by-22 inches) will be available for $2 per hour, charged in six-minute increments. Large lockers (15-by-15-by-22) will be available for $3 an hour. Binbox’s rental fees will be capped at $10 and $15, respectively, each game. The Nationals will not make money off the locker rentals.

Fans are encouraged to download the Binbox mobile app, which is available through the App Store and Google Play. The app may be used to lock and unlock the lockers, eliminating the need to wait in line for assistance from a Binbox staffer. Payment will be processed through the app via Stripe, though Flynn said his company is exploring adding Apple Pay and PayPal as payment options. Lockers will be available two hours before the scheduled first pitch until 90 minutes after the game. Reserving lockers is not an option, and every bag will be inspected by a third-party security staffer before being placed in a locker.

Binbox is also the new locker supplier at D.C. United’s Audi Field. Flynn said 122 lockers were used during United’s season opener Sunday, with an average cost of $6.30. Hourly rates for medium- and large-sized lockers at Audi Field are $3 and $5, respectively.

In addition to the storage lockers, the Nationals will have free Curly W cinch (drawstring) bags available at the Nationals Park Team Store on a first-come, first-served basis ahead of Opening Day. The Nationals will give away cinch bags to everyone in attendance at the exhibition game March 25.

According to the team’s revised bag policy, which prohibits all backpacks, regardless of size, exceptions may be made for backpack diaper bags and backpacks used for ADA or medical reasons. Purses, briefcases, drawstring bags, diaper bags and soft-sided coolers are still permitted, provided they are no larger than 16 inches long, 16 inches tall and 8 inches wide.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for us to make,” the Nationals wrote in an email to fans Wednesday. “We strive to provide a ballpark experience that is as convenient as possible. At the same time, your safety and security is and will always be our top priority. We recognize that calling our nation’s capital home means having a heightened security awareness. When we consulted with MLB and our security team, they pointed out that we were the only professional open-air sports facility in the Washington, D.C., area still permitting backpacks. Ultimately, we decided eliminating backpacks was necessary to enhance security at the park.”

Wednesday’s announcements did little to appease some critics of the revised bag policy, which will make it more difficult for fans who use backpacks to attend games straight from work.

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