After 34 long years without a professional baseball team, Major League Baseball returned to Washington, D.C., in 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation's capitol. The team changed its name to the Nationals and began play at RFK Stadium, the old home of the NFL's Washington Redskins, who had moved into FedEx Field. From 2005 to 2007, the Nationals posted impressive attendance numbers as baseball-starved D.C. fans flocked to the stadium in droves. In 2008, Nationals Park was finally completed along the Capitol Riverfront in southern Washington as an extended effort to develop the area.
With 41,546 seats, Nationals Park has plenty of space for fans while still having the intimate nature of a much smaller park. The ballpark's architects took great strides to create panoramic views of the surrounding area, and the circulation ramps that go around the facility highlight the scenery beautifully. As fans traverse the many spacious concourses, they have extensive views of Washington's Navy Yard, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building and other well-known landmarks. One of the strangest facts about the ballpark is its elevation - at 24 feet below street level, most can walk right off the street and into their seats without ever having to take a stairway or escalator.
In an effort to improve the sustainability of the building, Nationals Park is the first major stadium in the United States to be dubbed a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure. This means that great pains were taken to utilize green building materials and a variety of renewable energy sources to cut down on consumption. Additionally, the Nationals also installed a slew of LED light boards, including an LED ribbon board that extends 600 linear feet around the perimeter of the stadium to display messages, scores and lighting effects. The ballpark features one of the largest high-definition scoreboards in America - the 4,500 square foot video board dominates the space in center field and gives fans real-time highlights and stats from the game.
After going through some growing pains as the new kid in the National League East, the Nationals have used their high draft picks to build a deep and competitive roster. Even though they belong to one of the toughest divisions in the league, the Nationals are built to win and should give their fans plenty of unforgettable moments in the coming years.