The Washington Nationals Have Their Heads in the Sand


Did you know that the D.C. government spent $611 million to build 2,422,240 UNUSED seats?

According to the Washington Nationals (Major League Baseball) website, the team donates tickets to the community on a yearly basis. While the new ballpark has an approximate capacity of 41,000, the Nationals averaged an attendance of around 25,861 per game since the stadium opened in 2008.1 That leaves roughly 15,139 empty seats per game or, over two 80 game seasons, about 2,422,240 total seats. So, while donating some tickets over the two year period may seem generous, the Washington Nationals have a long way to go when it comes to community engagement.

The Nationals’ 30 year lease of the stadium will only cost the team roughly $165 million ($5.5 million a year).2 With a team value of $460 million, the Nationals seem to have a bit of money to give back to the community.3 If not money, the team should at least donate some time in the community because it couldn’t take much practice to lose over 100 games two years in a row (the 2008 & 2009 Nationals were the first ball club since the Padres back in 1973 & 1974 to “accomplish” this feat). Clearly, their hefty profits have yet to be invested in star players or free agents who could make this publicly financed ball team one that brings more pride to D.C. residents.

The Nationals should also aim more efforts at assisting the District’s youth. Younger generations often emulate professional athletes, reaching out beyond a few library and school appearances could motivate the new generation of students. Get beyond the classroom and teach students how geometry and physics relate to hitting a baseball. Teach culture by exploring the international backgrounds of players. Help students study the history of civil rights through the eyes of baseball players. Expose students to new careers by allowing them to shadow broadcasters, statisticians, and/or facilities managers. Assist in youth crime prevention. Do SOMETHING Nats, other than lose 100 games every year.

While our schools lost nearly 6% of its staff this year due to budget shortfalls, the Nationals will be spending more than $57 million on 25 players.4

Love them or hate them, sports often define a city. Residents take pride in a team’s achievements, competiveness, and community outreach. Unfortunate for the District of Columbia, the Washington Nationals seem to forget these aspects of being a professional team. Leniency towards achievements and competiveness can be debated because of growing pains, but community involvement and outreach should always remain a given for a multi-million dollar organization. Considering the “Natstown” marketing campaign, why do we not see the Nationals participating in District activities on a regular basis, even in the off-season?

So, Washington Nationals, what are you doing this off-season to contribute to “Natstown” and your self-declared commitment “to enhancing education and literacy; encouraging participation in youth baseball and softball; and improving the health and well-being of the citizens of the Washington DC region”?5

Are you building facilities for area youth to practice on?

Are you hosting free clinics for baseball and softball players throughout the year?

Are you sponsoring crime prevention throughout the District?

Are you feeding the hungry or finding a place for the homeless to sleep?

Are you helping in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV in D.C.?

Are you donating school uniforms to low income families or baseball uniforms to local teams?

Are you spending more than a few days each year reading to students at area schools?

Are you part of this community or just here because of the cheap rent?

If you answered no to any of these, it’s time to reevaluate your off-season community involvement moves.



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