Tonite was the first 'official' MLB game at the new Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
The new park was nice and new, and things inside were pretty and shiney, but there were the somewhat expected bumbs in the road too. Lots of little things not quite done yet, TVs that will eventually populate the vending standings aren't in place yet. TVs that will eventually adorn space in the Team Store are also not there yet (you could see cables dangling from the ceiling where the TVs will eventually be, but no TV in the space yet). Those are minor nits though, and less troublesome than the issue that plagued that Nationals in the old ballpark (RFK), long lines and unbearably slow service at the concession stands. As I expected and predicted, bringing in a new vending services provider really did nothing to help the employees that pretty much remained the same. Basically a case of new management, but same worker bees that are just not the worlds fastest and never will be.
I hope that over the course of the season, and think it'll probably come to pass, that the vending situation gets better there. After a few weeks of doing the job the vendors do typically get quicker. They get the equipment figured out, they get the patterns down on the cash registers and learn how to quickly move customers through the lines. While it stinks that they always start the year poorly, by the end of the season they do get better and customers (like me) get a better experience over time.
I have more complaints that I could make about the park but it won't make much difference as the park is what it is. It is the home of the Nationals and will be the home of the Nationals for the next 20+ years if all goes well, so hoping for a lot of change is just wishful thinking. I think if the designers of the park had more time to design the park to begin with, then some of the things I noticed wouldn't even be an issue. Unfortunately the park was designed as it was being built, and that left insufficient time to plan how one section of the park connects to the next. For example, from my regular seats in the 222 area, I can look over and see the next major section of the park (towards the infield, behind first base and then behind home plate), but what I can't easily do is walk over to that section of the stands. Something that was really easy to do in RFK Stadium, where the stands were built in the old cookie cutter style is just not possible in Nationals Park. The stands for Nationals Park are somewhat disjointed, since each section is separate from the others. Where you can walk from one area to the next, you can only do it on certain levels, and doing so involves walking longer distances than would be necessary if the sections were built to the same heights.
The other problem I quickly noticed with the stands is the design that was used for the upper deck entrance and exits. In RFK it was easy to walk through the portals from either side, but the designers/builders of the stands at Nationals Park set the upper deck areas up so that you can only enter/exit from the left (as you walk down towards the field, right if you are walking/looking up from the field) of the portals. If you walk down on the right side of the portal you are basically trapped in the stands as there is no way to get through to the pretty much non-existent concourse in front of the seating area. I watched as several people made the same mistake that I made when I first tried to walk down to the concourse area (which is underneath and behind the seating area), all of us forced to walk back up towards our seats, then over slightly (other side of the portal) and then finally down and out through the portal. Over time people will get used to that quirk, but it was somewhat frustrating to not be able to easily make your entrance and exit from the seats you want to get to.
I'm looking forward to the next 20+ years of games at Nationals Park. It should be fun to see the history that will happen there.