Bobblehead-hungry Nats fans battle lines outside ballpark

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals, and thousands of Nats fans, discovered firsthand that a Trea Turner bobblehead giveaway sandwiched between a split doubleheader leads to a clot of people around Nationals Park so large it inspires a Twitterstorm.

Nationals fans were stuck in lines as far as the eye could see before Sunday’s rescheduled game against the Philadelphia Phillies, waiting to get into the stadium and collect their bobbleheads before the game’s start time of 7:05 p.m.

 

The team had planned to give away 25,000 Trea Turner bobbleheads on Friday, when the game was originally set to be played.  But both the game and the giveaway were rescheduled to Sunday due to rain.

Following protocol, the Nationals announced the gates would reopen 90 minutes after the first game to allow time for crowds to find their seats before the first pitch. The  day game ended with a 4-3 Phillies victory shortly before 4:40 p.m.,  giving fans until 6:10 p.m. to queue up outside.

Fans waiting to enter or renter the stadium found themselves in lines that stretched from the Center Field Gate to the Navy Yard Metro, all along N Street toward Potomac Avenue, and even on the stairs of parking garages near the park.

 

On most bobblehead days, according to Federal Baseball, fans have around two hours to enter the ballpark. After the Center Field Gate opens at 5 p.m., everything else opens by 5:30 p.m., allowing everyone from super-collectors to first-time visitors to trickle in at their own pace.

On Sunday, fans had a little under an hour to get inside the ballpark and collect their bobbleheads, not leaving quite enough time for everyone to see Max Scherzer’s first pitch.

One fans told WTOP that she arrived a bit after 5:30 to find a line on N Street that “went almost all the way to First Street. We walked up N Street hoping to jump into the season ticket line on the far right of the Center Field Gate, but once we hit Half Street there was just a huge mass of people.  There wasn’t really any going anywhere from that point.” She did say, in the end that “all in all it wasn’t too bad.”

 

A spokesperson from the Nationals said that it takes 90 minutes to reset the stadium for a second game, between cleaning up, restocking the concessions and more, and that the park opened on time, 90 minutes after the last out of the first game.

Asked whether the giveaway could have been rescheduled separately from the makeup game, the spokesperson said, “Many of our fans purchase tickets specifically to obtain bobbleheads. As a result, it would not have been fair for us to reschedule the bobblehead distribution and therefore force fans to purchase tickets to another game in order to obtain the bobblehead.”

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.


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