Guide to the Nationals’ home opener

EDITOR’S NOTE: Going to Opening Day? wants to see your photos. You can tweet them with #WTOP, email them to or use the WTOP app.

The extended safety netting at Nationals Park is new for 2016. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
WASHINGTON — The Nationals go up against the Marlins in their home opener Thursday with plenty in store for fans as they arrive.

From face painters to Air Force flyovers, here’s what to expect for Opening Day:


Rain will begin in the morning, and it will sometimes be heavy, Storm Team 4 says. Whether it will lead to a delay or postponement of the 4:05 p.m. game is a question of timing. Keep an eye on WTOP’s Weather page for the latest.


First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. All gates will be open by 2:35; the scoreboard walk area and the Center Field Gate will open at 1:35, but you’ll only be able to walk around those areas, not sit in your seat, until all the gates are open.


Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster and CBS News special correspondent James Brown will emcee the Opening Day pregame ceremony.

The Family Picnic Area will feature caricature artists, face painters and a balloon artist.

Music will abound: White Ford Bronco will play at the Budweiser Terrace; the United States Army Band Downrange, in the Center Field Plaza, and the George Mason green Machine and Drumline on the timeline walk outside the Home Plate Gate.

The Budweiser Clydesdales will travel around the Navy Yard neighborhood starting at 2:15 p.m., making their way from First Street to the Center Field Gate at 2:55 p.m. with the Clydesdales delivering the game ball. Prince William County police officers Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, who were wounded in the Woodbridge shooting that killed Officer Ashley Guindon, will throw out the first pitch. 


The Nationals are set to hit a milestone on Opening Day when the 25 millionth fan walks through the gates of Nationals Park. To celebrate the occasion, the team will present the lucky fan with a pair of Nationals Opening Day tickets for the next 25 years along with other prizes.

Nationals Stadium will also give the first 25,000 fans to enter the ballpark a pair of Nationals sunglasses presented by GEICO.


Expect travel delays as crowds of fans make their way to Nationals Stadium and the pregame events scheduled throughout the day.

Metrorail’s Capitol South Station (on the Blue and Orange Lines) and Navy Yard Station (Green Line) near the Half Street exit are likely to be crowded.

Six Metrobus routes serve stops near the ballpark, and DC Circulator buses run every 10 minutes from Union Station.

Fans traveling from Alexandria can take the Potomac Riverboat Company water taxi service, which departs about one hour before the first pitch.

Fans can also bike to the stadium and valet their bike in Garage C at the corner of First and N
Streets SE, and bike racks around the ballpark.

Drivers can valet park their cars at stadium parking lots for $20 or $33 with an advance online purchase, but space is limited. Expect strict traffic and parking enforcement along the streets near the stadium.


The safety net protecting fans from balls and bats has been extended to the far ends of each team’s dugout this season.

Metal detectors are now at every entrance to Nationals Park. Fans will need to re-screen through the metal detectors and show their tickets to park staff if they leave and try re-entering the stadium.


The only kind of container you can bring in is one clear plastic, factory-sealed water bottle of a liter or less. Any food you bring has to be in single-serving bags in a soft-sided container or cooler that does not exceed 16″x16″x8″ (which is also the maximum size for any bag of backpack you bring to the park).

You can bring a camera, but the lens has to be less than eight inches, and no tripods or monopods are allowed.

You can’t bring:

  • Hard coolers or ice chests
  • Non-collapsible umbrellas
  • Brooms, poles or staffs
  • Weapons, fireworks or any other illegal substance
  • Animals (except service animals)
  • Beach balls and other inflatable items
  • Laser pens and laser pointers
  • Your own bat
  • Your own alcohol
  • Your own noisemakers
  • Skateboards and wheeled footwear

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