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Exterior Electronic Signs Requested for Nationals Park

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are requesting permission to install electronic billboards outside Nationals Park, a call that is receiving criticism in some circles. 

As it stands, five electronic billboards could be installed along the exterior of Nationals Park. The billboards would primarily be used for advertising, providing the team with another revenue source.

At this point, some District officials are open to the plan, provided that the Nationals meet a few conditions, such as not installing boards directly across from residential units or within the viewshed of the U.S. Capitol Building. Some are arguing that Nationals Park, as an entertainment destination, should be given leeway when it comes signage on its exterior.

The Nationals are arguing that the revenue obtained from the signage is key to maximizing payroll, as the additional advertising space could bring in millions in funds annually. Opponents from various residents groups, however, say that allowing signage outside the ballpark is effectively opening the door for an unwanted nuisance. More from The Washington Post:

The Nationals have been lobbying the city to allow the installation of 10 LED screens that would generate $3 million to $5 million annually, according to club officials. The revenue would boost its ability to acquire star players and raise its status with Major League Baseball, Alan Gottlieb, a partner in the team, said at a public hearing on the proposal.

“The cost of players continues to rise,” Gottlieb said. “With costs ever increasing, we need to find avenues to be able to generate additional revenue.”

But critics say that if the council approves the ballclub’s request to add displays as large as 35 feet by 34 feet, it will open the door to a proliferation of the signs.

“This signals a tsunami of billboards around the city,” said Meg Maguire, a member of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, a planning and land use advocacy group.

The request is still pending as District officials consider the current proposal, which was conceived after a hearing on November 14 and could be reviewed in early December. If the signs are approved, the Nationals say they plan to install them over phases rather than all at once. The signs would be in place by 2018, the season in which Nationals Park is to host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

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