The official opening of the 2008 MLB season was a grand spectacle. The Washington Nationals faced off against the Atlanta Braves in the new, $611 million Nationals Park. The game was complete with fireworks and the associated pomp, and a culminated in a walk-off win for the Nats.
It was truly a glorious launch for what has been a rather lackluster season for the franchise from the nation’s capitol. Perhaps that is why the team has announced it will be lowering ticket prices for next season.
Seats in the newly discounted sections will average $5 to $10 less. This will include about 7500 of the 41,888 seats. It will not include the most expensive seats behind home plate.
In terms of percentage of capacity (seats filled compared to seats available) the Nationals rank 15th in the majors with roughly 70%. Apparently this concerns the front office both in terms of dealing with the cost of the park, but also because of the TV images of empty seats.
Perhaps most interesting is that the Nationals, on their way to a possible 100 loss season (currently 54–86) have exceeded teams like the Twins (57%) and the Rays (50%) who are in contention to make the postseason.
Much of this can be attributed to the novelty of the franchise’s location (this is their fourth season since moving from Montreal) and that of the ballpark itself. Some credit must be given to baseball fans fervor in the D.C. area, though, which seems to far surpass that of Florida and Minnesota.