03/30/08 9:00 PM ET
Kasten appreciative despite whirlwind
Preparation for Nationals Park pays off as new home opens
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Still, Kasten, who is frenetic in the most calm of times, seemed like a man who was purveying all he could see on Sunday night."I am a proud papa who is worrying about his child's college education," Kasten said. "My immediate concerns are what my challenges are. But that's OK -- I am very proud." Immediate concerns? Long concession lines during the run-through exhibition game against the Orioles on Saturday night. "It was all-new employees in an all-new facility using an all-new computer system," Kasten said. "But that's fine. We've made adjustments overnight. We'll see how those go." Only about 1,200 on-site parking spaces are utilized by season-ticket holders, with Kasten eyeing another 5,000 more in the immediate vicinity for daily use "by the time we're done," he said.
|* -- Season shortened by work stoppage|
# -- World Series champions
"We don't have daily or paid parking, and I hope to have an announcement this week that we will have some for the next homestand," Kasten added. "But we don't have it done yet. The best thing I tell people is that if you're looking for a space, there are 57,000 metro parking spots in this city. Take your pick."Finally, the season-ticket base is at 18,000, up from the 16,000 who bought plans in 2007 during the last season at RFK, but down from the 21,000 who jumped on the bandwagon for the club's inaugural season in Washington. "We're still selling, and we're up about 20 percent," Kasten said. "Last week, I checked -- we're 11th in baseball this year. For a team where we are in the building cycle, I feel very good about that." There were other neat tweaks for the opener. The Nationals, for instance, took batting practice after the Braves so incoming fans could see them hit once the gates had opened. Usually, the visitors hit after the home team. Kasten, who had moved from the new spacious oval clubhouse to right behind the batting cage at this point, noted that it was a "one-time thing." But it's worth considering on a regular basis. Asked what had pleased him most about the circular facility with the deep blue seats, Kasten noted: "I loved the way the ballpark felt," he said. "People were at the railings at the restaurants and bars, relaxing and watching the game. And it was packed. It was a great look -- a great look. This was the way it was supposed to be designed. It was very nice." And with that, Kasten was gone -- to take another call and put out another fire, the proud papa prowling the ballpark again.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.