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Metro, Nationals working out plan to stay open late during playoffs

The Nationals have plenty to be happy about after taking two-of-three from the Braves this week. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Although the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, the team has not reached a deal with Metro to keep trains running past midnight during home playoff games.

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells guarantees a deal will be reached.

Without it, Metro would close at midnight, leaving fans stranded if they took the rail to get there.

“We’re not going to let that happen,” says Wells, who represents Ward 6 in which Nationals Park is located. “We’re going to make sure all the fans have the transportation that they need and Metro is critical to that.”

Under Metro policy, the Nationals would have to pay a $29,500 deposit to keep the trains open an extra hour during the week. If the playoff game ends before midnight, the agency would refund the money back to the Nationals.

It’s a deal that has been standard operating procedure for years. Other sports teams like the Redskins, Capitals and Wizards have paid the deposit for playoff games or Monday Night Football. Other event sponsors holding weeknight events have also paid the deposit to keep the trains running an extra hour.

“I believe that the responsibility rests with the Lerners, as the owners. It’s not a large sum of money,” Wells says. “When you figure how much revenue everyone gains from the extra home games in the playoffs, it’s a small price to pay for a successful season.”

In 2012, the Nationals balked at paying the deposit for the playoffs. Just days before the playoffs were due to begin, Livingsocial came forward and volunteered to pay the fee for the team.

If a similar situation occurs this year, the City Council will personally intervene to persuade the sides to reach a deal, Wells tells WTOP.

“We’re not going to let it happen — plain and simple,” Wells continues. “The reason we expanded the station is because our fans use mass transit and we will make sure it is there for them.”

Both sides are talking.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles acknowledged the talks in a gaggle last Thursday with reporters.

“We are in discussions with the Nationals and hopefully we’ll have good news for everybody,” Sarles says. “There are discussions and certainly everyone wants to have a good experience for the customers.”

Asked Wednesday for an update, Metro says there is no deal yet.

“Stay tuned. There is activity behind the scenes,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel tells WTOP in a statement.

While the sides negotiate, time appears to favor a deal being reached. According to the MLB schedule for the NL Division Series, Games 1 and 2 are on a Friday and Saturday evening.

Therefore, any issue with Metro closing at midnight would not occur until a potential Game 5 on Thursday, October 9.

If the Nationals advanced to the NLCS, then the issue could affect Games 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7. If the Nats have home field, they’d host Game 2 and if necessary, Game 7.

If the Nats do not have home field, it would host Games 3, 4, 5. The NLCS runs from Saturday, October 11 to Sunday, October 19.

If they advanced to the World Series, Metro would only close at midnight for Game 5 on Sunday Oct. 26.

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