The onset of my baseball obsession occurred somewhere around 2005, fortunately coinciding with the Montreal Expos’ move to Washington D.C., just an hour north of my Virginia home. And when the Nationals opened their sleek new stadium in 2008, I was ecstatic to have a real home baseball park, one that the Marlins would visit three times each season. Since then, I have attended dozens of Nationals games, and have sat in nearly every corner of the ballpark on various occasions. So it is my goal to inform interested baseball fans of all the nooks, crannies, quirks, and jerks of Nationals Park.
Please refer to this Nationals Park seating chart with section numbers. The colors in the text refer to a superior quality of the Park. For instance, certain sections will have green for good food choices, blue for good views of the action, or red for good ballhawking opportunities. Prices for tickets vary by quite a bit depending on whether you are buying some sort of season ticket package, single game tickets in advance, or tickets at the gate. The prices I have listed tend to be on the cheaper end, and are most similar to buying single game tickets online in advance. These are also the Nationals.com prices. Sites like StubHub, and Tickets.com likely have better values.
Starting on the 100 level, working around from centerfield.
Section 100 is the Red Porch seating area and lounge. Up at the Red Porch restaurant, you can simultaneously enjoy the game and have a sit-down dining experience. Soft drink refills are free and the food is good, but slightly more expensive than reasonable. Spectators sit at restaurant tables with a good view, well above field level. The Red Porch seating area down by the field is, in my opinion, the section that provides the highest chance of catching a home run. The wide cross-aisle between the tables and seats provides an opportunity for great lateral movement. And the three wide staircases in the small section don’t hurt either. Seats here cost around $30.
Sections 101-107 are left field home run territory, however these seats get crowded. The lack of aisles and scarcity of staircases limits mobility, all but completely subjugating your home run-catching chances to mere luck. Nevertheless, they provide a decent view of the action for a moderate price: $20-$28 depending on the game.
Sections 108-110, 135-137 are the LF/RF corner seats. The better seats in these sections are the lower rows as they provide the clearer views. The lower bowl at Nationals Park is not steep at all, causing higher rows to have people-obstructed views when the crowds are up. An advantage of these seats from the ballhawking/enjoyment perspective is that of seat upgrading. Before the game, start eying the seats along the line closer to the dugout. Frequently, entire sections will be largely vacant for at least a few innings. If you spot any rows that are completely empty, you can cut across multiple sections at a time, and upgrade your seat.
Sections 111-113, 132-134 are the baseline box seats. As is with the corner sections, seats in the lower rows offer better views. As experienced ball-snaggers know, the ushers guarding the sections along the third base line get picky and aggressive, and it is not worth an active fan’s trouble to deal with them. For a single game, these seats range upwards of $50-$60. Since the views are not spectacular, and ball-snagging opportunities not that plentiful, I would avoid paying full price for these seats, and maybe even avoid sitting here altogether. For the 2015 season, the Nationals added two new concessions stands behind section 112 featuring Maryland and Virginia cuisine. Crab cakes, chicken biscuits, and Virginia ham are the highlights.
Sections 114-117, 126-131 are the home/visitor dugout box seats. Don’t let the name fool you, you’re not sitting in a box. The Nationals are very good at giving their seating sections euphemistic names (“Capital City View” seats are merely nosebleeds). For a single game, the lower rows can cost you around $70-$80. The view of the action is not bad, but there are much better deals elsewhere in the Park. As far as food goes, the best concession stand on the 100 level is Taste of the Majors, outside 117. It provides the most variety, more than just ballpark cuisine.
Sections 119-126: The PNC Diamond Club is a moderately-priced club section given the food, view, prices, and service as compared to those of other MLB stadiums. It includes access to an air-conditioned club; however, there does not exist a major need to enter the club as waiters and waitresses deliver food directly to the seats. If you have no desire for the lavish lifestyle that is this club section, but you do want the immaculate view of the action it provides, sit in one of the Home Plate Reserved sections, which are the upper portions of 119, 120 and 126. They are partitioned off from the club level and are therefore cheaper, but offer the same great views, and are in good foul ball territory.
The concession stands that line the 100-level concourse between 108 and 137 are, for the most part, your average ballpark eateries. However, the Taste of the Majors grill on the third base line offers the best variety. Each entree is a popular classic from a city that has a baseball team. For instance, several options they offer all season are the New York Pastrami, Pittsburgh stuffed sandwich, and Miami Cuban sandwich. But they also prepare a signature dish for the city of the visiting team, which alternates each series.
Sections 138-143 are right field home run territory. The biggest downfall to these seats is the fact that the Jumbotron is completely out of view. Given that, I would never buy season tickets here. However, these seats are generally not as crowded as the left field seats, providing much better home run-catching opportunities when guys like Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche come to the plate. For $25-30, the view is not bad, but there do exist better options.
The Lexus Presidents’ Club is too good to have numbers. As compared to other home plate club seating in baseball, at $350 per game, the Presidents’ Club is a deal. I’ve never sat here, so I cannot give an honest review, but I’m guessing the food is good.
(Click on picture above to make it clearer)
Ahh, the 200 level. For the pure baseball-viewing aspect of the experience, this seating area provides the most bang for your buck.
Sections 201-205, 223-235 (odds) are the LF/RF mezzanine sections. They are situated high, but still close to the action. Unless you sit up here, you will underestimate the view. As far as value goes, these might be the best seats in the stadium ($25-ish). Sure, there is little food on the 200 level, but the concession stands on the 100 level are just a half-inning’s trip away.
Sections 206-221 is the Stars and Stripes Club. The “infield” club is designated as sections209-218. They are closer to home plate, and offer better views than the farther sections, but are therefore more pricey. The air-conditioned concourse of the club level, as well as its high-end food, appeals to baseball travelers not interested in running around chasing foul balls and home runs. However, if you are that person who wants a shot at a foul ball, the Stars and Stripes Club has something for you too. That’s because sections 210-216 are in the “golden quarter.” Refer back to the seating chart above, and extend both foul lines into the seating sections. You will see that they enclose the PNC Diamond club as well as the aforementioned sections. In any ballpark, most of the foul pop ups land in this area. 214, 215, 216 and 217 get a higher concentration of foul balls than any other area in the park. If I had the money, I would buy season tickets for one of those sections, and probably end the year with 10 foul balls, just by staying in my ticketed seat for every pitch.
Sections 237-243 comprise the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk. Beware: sitting in the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk means you will not actually be seeing the Miller Lite Scoreboard. However, Shake Shack, Box Frites, and Blue Smoke, the best food options in the stadium, are right outside the 240s. And there is a comfortable, open seating area in the wide concourse behind the Jumbotron. On weekends, particularly, the Scoreboard Walk is hopping with crowds, and lines for these concession stands can get lengthy. But for the price of $20 or so, the views are good out here, and sections 237-240 do get a share of long home runs throughout the season. If you’re feeling particularly nerdy: take a stopwatch and the knowledge of the speed of sound (343 m/s or about 770 mph), sit in the top row of 243, and try to calculate your distance from home plate. I say this because there is a highly noticeable lapse between seeing the ball enter the catcher’s mitt, and actually hearing the smack.
Sections 222-236 (evens) are awful seats. I’ll begin by asking: why are these considered 200 level? Look at the seating chart above, and you’ll see that they should be 300 seats. And since these sections are steep and high, some of the seats here are actually higher than all the 300-level seats. They offer terrible views because of the angle at which you are observing. You can’t see the right field corner at all, and you lose sight of the foul line about halfway into the outfield. If you’re in 228-236, you won’t have good view of the scoreboard either. In addition, you’re a two-inning round trip away from any decent food because the lines at the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk are probably super long. To make matters worse, the one time I sat here, the usher lady at the entrance was checking tickets as if it were the Presidents’ Club. It was as if every piece of awfulness from the Nationals organization was condensed into this seating area–the black hole of baseball fandom. Don’t sit here!
The 300 level: 301-321 is called the “gallery.” And it is what it is. You get what you pay for. Seats here are between $20-$25 for a single game. The view of the action is decent for the price and unobstructed; it is what you’d expect it to be for these seats. There are more fun places to be in the Park, but these sections are fine choices for anyone looking to sit and enjoy nine innings of baseball without distraction. On giveaway days, weekends, and other prime matchups when Nationals Park fills up, sitting in the 300 level can be much more relaxing than being in the lower bowl.
The 400 level, 401-409, 416-420 is split into two parts by the Shirley Povich Media Center. Exactly where sections 410-415 went, I have no clue. I’m guessing they used those numbers to label parts of the press box, but it still beats me. The cheapest seats in the house are up here. In the past few seasons, tickets in 401 and 402 were sold for $5 at the box office 2 1/2 hours before game time, but I don’t know whether or not the Nationals will continue that next season.
If the Nationals did just one thing correctly for the fans, it was putting the press box high up with the cheap seats. In most of the new baseball stadiums, media members sit in a huge space taking up a large part of the 200 club level, basically where 212-215 is at Nationals Park.
If I were looking to buy season tickets at Nationals Park, and I had unlimited money and time, I would go for the PNC Diamond Club. The Presidents’ Club I’m sure is nice, but I like sitting slightly aloof from the action, with a broad vision range. Therefore, sections 124 or 120 in the Diamond Club would appeal to me the most. If my budget were more limited, I’d go for the 200 Stars and Stripes Club, probably section 215 for foul balls. After that, I’d go for a baseline box or a corner seat. I prefer third base/left field area at Nationals Park because the seats are directed toward the Jumbotron above right-centerfield. Next, if I had to be more economic, sections 203-205 would make sense because of the good view of the action.
I doubt I’ll ever have season tickets at Nationals Park. In fact it’s my hope that I will work for Major League Baseball in some way, shape, or form so that buying season tickets would not be necessary. But I hope this compilation of my knowledge of Nationals Park will help anyone looking to find their seat of choice, or just looking to enjoy a game in our Nation’s Capital.
If you’ve made it here because you attended the Taylor Swift concert at Nats Park, or plan to attend another non-baseball event, OR just want a good laugh, check out this post LINK: Answering questions about Nationals Park for Taylor Swift fans.