Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nationals Set to Open New Ballpark.

The Washington Nationals will open the 2008 season in a new 41,222 seat state-of-the-art ballpark in southeast Washington D.C. along the Anacostia River, called (for now) Nationals Park. They leave behind the pitcher-friendly confines of RFK Stadium, which was their home for the past three seasons.

The new $611 million park will feature outfield walls that are closer to home plate. The distances are more favorable to hitter. The configuration are as followed:

Nationals Park:
Left Field = 336 ft.
Left Center = 377 ft.
Center Field = 403 ft.
Right Center = 370 ft.
Right Field = 335 ft.

RFK Stadium:
Left Field = 335 ft.
Left Center = 380 ft.
Center Field = 410 ft.
Right Center = 380 ft.
Right Field = 335 ft.

So you see the biggest difference is in right center and center field, but that's not the only difference. The walls at Nationals Park are 8 1/2 feet high except in right center field where they will be 14 feet high. The walls at RFK were 12 feet high except for left field where they were 8 feet high.

In Addition, the foul territory is just about gone at Nationals Park. Seating is up to 17 feet closer to the infield. This makes a difference to hitters in that foul balls that would have been caught for outs at RFK will now fall into the stands.

To play devil advocate for a minute. Petco Park in San Diego was designed to be more hitter friendly then Qualcomm Stadium. Petco Park became more pitch-friendly, and is now without question the most pitcher friendly park in all of baseball.

Other Quick facts on Nationals Park:
-Grass surface
-First Game is March 30, 2008 against the Atlanta Braves.