Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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The Washington Nationals have once again successfully dodged the question of how to get fans home from their playoff games.

If any games run late this postseason and Metro needs to stay open later than its normal business hours, American University will be footing the bill on behalf of the team. Because some playoff games start later than regular-season games, someone needs to put down about $30,000 to keep Metro running for each extra hour in case it’s needed. Metro returns a portion of that deposit depending on how many people rode during that hour. 

The Capitals, Wizards, and the Washington football team all pay for late Metro use when needed. (Yes, even Dan Snyder‘s team is better on this than the Nats are.) But the Nationals have, in their short playoff history, made an art of avoiding the question.

In 2012, the first year the team made the playoffs after arriving in D.C., they refused to pay the Metro costs. Eventually, LivingSocial came in and said they would put down the deposit. This year, it’s AU’s turn to play baseball hero. AU and Metro announced today that Nats fans would have access to special late-night service Sunday through Thursday for games that are still in play by 10:30 p.m. Metro typically closes on midnight these days, and Metro could stay open, if necessary, as late as 1:20 a.m. On weekend nights, Metro already operates until 3 a.m., late enough to get fans home under most foreseeable baseball circumstances. In the event of late service, fans would only be able to enter the system at the Navy Yard station on the Green Line, though they could leave from any station.

AU President Neil Kerwin says such a gesture was natural for the Tenleytown university considering that it’s already known for getting people “to where they want to go.” The Nats didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“American University is pleased to extend our partnership with the Nats into the post-season, with a commitment to ensure a ride home for fans taking Metro, in case of a late game,” Kerwin says in a release. “AU is known for helping people in Washington ‘get to where they want to go’—and now supports Nats fans in post-season play.”

The only weeknight games that would potentially need this service are Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday, Oct. 9; Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, Oct. 12; NLCS Game 7 on Sunday, Oct. 19; and Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 26. All of these games would only occur if the Nats make it that far in the postseason, and also only if each series goes that long.

This will likely prove to be a smart PR move for AU. In 2012, no games ran late, and LivingSocial’s bill ultimately amounted to $0.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery