RFK Stadium
Washington, District of Columbia
Year Opened
1961

Current Team
None

Affiliate
N/A

League
N/A

Capacity
56,000

My Grades
Stadium C Atmosphere A- Concessions C+

Photos taken in 2005
Maybe I was expecting too much when I made my first visit to RFK Stadium in 2005. Or maybe it was just that I had forgotten that most of the circular, multi-use stadiums built in the 1960's and 1970's are not good venues to see baseball games. Or maybe I forgot that it was MLB who was still running the team and therefore just trying to make a buck. Whatever it was, I was less than impressed with the renovated RFK Stadium. Supposedly $18 million was spent to refurbish the stadium, but apparently all of it went to improving the player's comforts and none went to improving the fan experience. RFK Stadium is located on the east end of the city and is not easily accessible. Washington is a confusing city so finding the ballpark can be challenging. Large parking lots surround the stadium for which a reasonable $10 is charged. The exterior of the stadium is nothing to look at. Even the main entryway at the front of the stadium is not too inviting. Ticket booths and the team store are located in temporary trailers outside the park. Inside, the park most resembles Three Rivers Stadium or Busch Stadium. The concourses are dark and dingy besides being a bit narrow. A fair amount of temporary concession stands have been set up along the concourse, but unfortunately the variety leaves something to be desired. The only choices are italian sausages, foot long dogs, chicken tenders, and pizza. I couldn't even find a regular hot dog for sale. Concession prices were about average for a MLB stadium. The same could not be said for the souvenirs, though. A program costs $10 ! And no scorecards are sold. Fortunately one of the local newspapers hands out a free program/scorecard outside the park prior to the game. The seating at RFK is one of the positives. Even though most of the seats are old, they are quite wide and legroom is plentiful. Sightlines aren't great here, especially from the seats under the overhang of the mezzanine level. Also, foul territory is copious, so no seats are that close to the action. One of the unique features of RFK is the upper deck which varies in height - it rises up near first base and third base before dropping down behind home plate and in the outfield. A new video board was installed in the outfield, but I would have rather had them upgrade the sound system. The PA announcer was almost unintelligible and the music that was played you could hardly distinguish. Despite the negatives I encountered with the park, the fans still seem to be coming out and enjoying it. Most seem very much into the game and more cheering was heard than in some of the other new parks. RFK Stadium was only utilized as a temporary home for the Nationals until their new ballpark was built near the Anacosta River. That's a good thing since the days of these concrete cookie cutters have certainly passed. While in use, RFK certainly was near the bottom of my rankings.
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All Photos Copyright Brian Merzbach
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