Ballpark Digest is previewing what every MLB team is doing to begin the season, both on and off the field, as the 2019 campaign is around the corner. Leading off our series: the Washington Nationals and Nationals Park.
Since its opening in 2008, the Nationals have been diligent about refining the fan experience at Nationals Park, which much of that effort focused on fine tuning the ballpark’s food and beverage options. That trend is continuing into 2019, with the Nationals and hospitality partner Levy announcing several distinct menu items for this season.
At the Old Hickory BBQ stand, fans will find several new options, including Bone-In Smoked Beef Short Rib and Elote. New concepts will also be showcased at Cantina 202, including Carnitas, Barbacoa (pictured above), and Chicken Tinga tacos and nachos.
Along with those options, the Nationals will also be offering regionally inspired food and drink options around Nationals Park. Crab cake sandwiches will be part of the menu this season, providing a regional seafood option at the ballpark. In addition, the Ben’s Chill Bowl stands around the ballpark will feature a Ben’s Half Smoke.
Once again, the Nationals are partnering with Virginia-based brewery Devils Backbone Brewing Co. to present the team-branded Earned Run Ale. This will be the third year of the partnership for Earned Run Ale, a session American Pale Ale, but this season will introduce a new element with updated packaging. Earned Run Ale is traditionally sold at Nationals Park, as well as liquor stores in the D.C. Metro area.
Food and beverage will not be the only aspects of Nationals Park that change this season. Beginning with the 2019 campaign, the Nationals are instituting a ban on backpacks as part of new security policies. The policy, first announced earlier this year, may allow for exceptions for backpack diaper bags or backpacks used for ADA/medical reasons. Additionally, all purses, briefcases, drawstring bags, diaper bags and soft-sided coolers that do not exceed 16″x16″x8″ will still be permitted. For backpacks purchased within Nationals Park, fans will receive a tag permitting use for that game/event day only.
In a corresponding move, the Nationals recently announced that they are partnering with the local company Binbox to install 1,000 new backpack storage lockers around the parameter of Nationals Park. Binbox will own and operate the lockers, with fans being charged what the team describes as “a nominal fee” to store backpacks and their contents during the game. The new lockers are set to be installed by the Nationals’ spring-training finale against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park on March 25, with the team opening the regular season against the New York Mets on March 28.
Image of Barbacoa beef tacos courtesy Levy.