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Nationals and Capitals play tug-o-war with D.C. economy

While the Redskins played their home opener at FedEx Field, the Nationals drew 33,111 to Nats Park. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The economy here in the national capital region will be pulled in different directions by, yes, the Nationals and the Capitals.

The Nationals are bringing the baseball playoffs to the city for the first time since 1933, while the Capitals have been locked out by the NHL, and the preseason games have been canceled. The combination could either help or hurt businesses surrounding Nationals Park and the Verizon Center.

“The Verizon Center has been a real boon to the Washington region, but specifically to downtown for several years, primarily because of the Washington Capitals,” says James Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

For restaurants, bars and stores around the Verizon Center, each canceled game cuts into customers and sales.

“This would be a real disappointment, and really, very difficult for a lot of the small businesses if the season doesn’t continue,” Dinegar says.

But on South Capitol Street, it’s just the opposite. The playoffs mean extra games with a sold-out stadium.

This season, Nationals Park had an average attendance of 29,036 people per game, according to baseball-reference.com. The average attendance last year was about 5,000 less people.

Dinegar says the playoffs will put the greater Washington region in the “national spotlight.” As a result, the economy will benefit from Nats fans frequenting local restaurants and bars and checking into hotels.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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