Remember March 30, 2008?
It was opening night at Nationals Park—-long before reporters were routinely acknowledging the stadium’s true cost.
And the game attendance numbers were sinking.
And we learned that the team was refusing to pay rent.
I visited the Capitol Riverfront back in early December, deep into the no-baseball-season. The neighborhood was dark, and one of the few pedestrians I saw was a Nationals security guard. Given the recent collapse of the D.C. United/Poplar Point deal, it’s clear that public support has waned for big sports financing deals. But it’s sort of amazing to look at the reaction to Nationals Park at this time last year. Here is a selection of headlines from the Washington Post around late March 2008.
The City Opens the Ballpark, And the Fans Come Up Winners
Lapping Up a Major Victory, And Luxuries, at New Stadium; Fans Giddy After Storybook Ending (and the Occasional Cocktail)
A ‘Storybook Ending’; Homer Gives Nationals a Memorable Close to $611 Million Stadium Opener
Ballpark’s Debut: Not Perfect, but Still a Triumph
A Swing and Another Hit; At Nationals Park, Pop Music Pumps Up the Baseball Crowd