Nats fans buy tickets with high hopes for the season ahead

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – In the weeks leading up to Opening Day, hope springs eternal at major league ballparks.

But as single-game tickets went on sale Thursday at Nationals’ Park, replica jerseys of Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse reflect an optimism that this year could be the breakout.

“My father’s 93 and my mother’s 88, and they are die-hard Nationals fans,” says a woman waiting at the box office for tickets.

“I’m so glad (Stephen) Strasburg is back, I just can’t wait,” she says.

Tickets are on sale at the box office, on the Nationals’ web page and by phone 888-632-NATS.

“Opening Day, the Yankees series, the Phillies series — those series have gone really well,” says Chris Gargani, vice president and managing director of sales and client services.

The Yankees come to town as part of interleague play. But the Nationals are really focusing on the atmosphere of the ballpark when a familiar foe shows up – the Phillies.

“We engaged our season ticket holders and really the local community … to buy tickets and take back the park,” Gargani says.

The target weekend for “Take Back the Park” is May 4-6. Fans and sports writers alike have bemoaned what some have called Citizens Bank Park South, referring to Phillies fans overrunning the Nats’ home stadium.

This year’s initiative gave priority to fans from the District, Maryland and Virginia in hopes of quieting the “Let’s Go Phillies” chants.

Phillies’ fans are doubling down, launching what they call “The Takeover” to counter the Nationals’ efforts.

But the scramble over tickets, online smack-talking and enthusiasm about baseball at this time of year might just give credibility to the springtime hope — it could be a fun year at Nats’ Park.

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