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The first time the Washington Nationals made it to the Major League Baseball playoffs, in 2012, the team quickly turned into the Greedy Nats, refusing to foot the bill to keep the Metro open later if games ran past the subway system’s usual midnight closing time during the week.
Because some playoff games start later than run-0f-the-mill regular season games, someone would have needed to put down about $30,000 to keep Metro running for each extra hour in case it was needed. Metro would then have returned some 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 (like it will be next Thursday, when there’s a home football game at FedEx Field). But the Nats—the team that landed its sweet publicly financed stadium after the city took out $535 million in bonds to pay for it—said it wasn’t their problem and that someone else would have to pay.
Eventually LivingSocial—then flush and full of tech-boom swagger—swooped in and said it would pay for any necessary after-hours service. That turned out to be a good PR move on the company’s part; the bill ultimately amounted to $0.
But now that the Nationals are once again the NL East champions, who will pay for late-night October baseball Metro costs this year if needed?
So far, neither the team nor the transit agency are saying.
In all likelihood, the Nats will play their first two playoff games at home on Friday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Oct. 4. That means Metro will run until 3 a.m., and there should be no need to stay open later than that no matter what time the games start (unless things get 1986-NLCS-Game-6-style weird). But if there’s a fifth game in the opening series, that could be at home on Thursday, Oct. 9—when Metro closes at midnight. If the Nats win the first round, subsequent games could also require at least some later Metro hours. (City Desk is getting way ahead of herself here, but still: Should the Nats get that far, Game 3 and Game 4 of the World Series would be in D.C. on a Friday and Saturday, when the system closes at 3 a.m.; Game 5, though, would also be here, on a Sunday.)
Let’s hope the team is playing late enough into October for it to become an issue—and that it gets sorted out before the kind of debacle that nearly occurred in 2012.
And yes, we’re going to assume that LivingSocial is not offering to pay the bill this year.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery