Nationals Park has been a qualified success, poised to become much more

Washington Nationals may finally meet expectations — on and off the fieldThe Post
SLIDESHOW: The transformation of Southeast (maps, photos, etc.)
Marc Fisher the reporter writes about Nationals Park years after Marc Fisher the columnist openly campaigned for it. The conclusion — despite lower than expected attendance/losing seasons and the economic downturn the began the year the park opened, Nationals Park has improved its neighborhood. The ascendent Nats and

  • One naysayer, Naomi Monk campaigned against the ballpark, but now sees it as a positive: “I have to say, it’s been for the betterment of the community,” she said. “Our crime seems to be under control. The neighborhood looks 100 percent better. The new housing is a great improvement.”
  • Fisher quotes a former Nats blogger who moved to Maine and is such a political hack that even when he’s right, you feel bad about agreeing with him. Disappointing choice, Marc.
  • Season ticket sales are the highest since 2008, according to Andrew Feffer, the Nats chief operating officer. I had been hearing that in my conversations with Nats ticketing.
  • The hotel, residential and retail complex that Monument Reality is planning to build is still nothing more than a pit adjacent to Half Street. Progress is happening elsewhere in the neighborhood, including an residential, retail and office development by Akridge. A a 170-unit apartment building called Foundry Lofts opened in December and is 75% full.
  • The neighborhood’s population is now 3,500, up from 1,000. Overall, Near Southeast is 30% built out and may ultimately have 16,000 residents.
  • Across South Capital Street, Half Street SW still has an open-air drug market. Okay, I’ll be adjusting how I ride my bike to games then…
  • 44% of fans take Metro, down from 53%. A realization that more parking exists is probably the reason, though that parking will probably start filling up as attendance increases. The lower than expected attendance has kept traffic from being too disruptive too.
  • Streets are more orderly and more often patrolled by police, according to one resident, Gloria Sligh.
  • The Nats haven’t connected with the District’s majority black population yet. Then again, neither have the Washington Wizards.
  • The displacement of seamy nightclubs by Nationals Park spurred developers to further embrace the Southeast development that began in 2001. Even council member Jim Graham (Ward 1), a long-time opponent concedes that this redevelop wouldn’t have happened without the stadium. “sports are obviously a driver for prosperity when you can get a new neighborhood out of it.”
  • The “ballpark tax” levied on the city’s 1,800 largest businesses, has brought in $85 million. That’s double what was projected, but is not really tied to Nationals Park. The good news about that is it could be used to retire the ballpark bonds early, though it gets siphoned off to balance the District’s budget. Another $13 million or so comes in from property taxes in the ballpark area.
  • The area around Nationals Park will reach critical mass faster than the area around Verizon Center.
  • The Nats have middle of the pack revenue, in part because Bud Selig gave away the team’s TV rights to Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles. That deal is getting renegotiated as we speak.
  • Since 60% of Nats fans come from Virginia and another 25% from Maryland, the redistribution of leisurely income works out well for the District. It is almost like…a commuter tax.

The story ends abruptly, I wonder if something got cut off. Still, Fisher does a good job of arguing in favor the ballpark now and into the future. He supports his own opinion! I wish he had actually gotten Jaqueline Dupree of JDLand.com (her take on the article) on the record, since she knows the neighborhood so well. Many JDLand.com pages are linked within the article. I also wish Fisher had actually quoted a local Nats fan.

Only 11 days until the fifth Nationals Park season…

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