The Capital Conjecture: Breaking Down Nationals Park Seating


READ THE 2017 VERSION OF THIS POST HERE

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.

View from upper portion of section 112

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.

View from Home Plate Reserved section 126, right above PNC Diamond Club

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.

Prime foul ball territory, section 215
Prime foul ball territory, section 215

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.

Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk sections from across the field
Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk sections from across the field

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!

View from the 300 levelThe 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.

Author: Steve Miller

Steve Miller has been baseball blogging since 2011. He is the Sports Editor at the University of Dayton's Flyer News. Email: h2rsteve@gmail.com

21 thoughts

  1. You miss used the word aloof. Also, your title makes no sense, and is clearly a ripoff of the Big Bang Theory. You should write about the Giants.

    1. Haha. I don’t believe the word police really care about the use of the word aloof, and its definition is ambiguous anyway. I was trying to convey that sometimes sitting REALLY close to the action is detracting from the viewing experience.
      And I am not “ripping off” the Big Bang Theory, I’m just using their creative ideas. And it makes perfect sense: “Capital,” is a reference to Washington D.C., the home of the Nationals, and a “conjecture” is an opinion or conclusion. I formed conclusions based on opinions about a venue in the Capital.

  2. I enjoyed the review smillermarlins…very helpful. And swaggopotamus apparently doesn’t know that it’s “misused”…not “miss used”…

  3. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been to many games but stay in the same general area, infield club. This information is actually kind of hard to find online so I assume it would be helpful to many looking for where they want to buy tickets. You did a great job explaining in detail the many seating options. I sat in section 135, row V today & really regretted not getting my normal infield club seats, with access to the AC! Heat exhaustion!! So worth the extra $$ when it’s that hot out. I may actually have to check out the Red Porch area now, after reading your description. Thanks again for taking the time to do this.

    1. Thank you, Amy. I appreciate your feedback and I’m glad I could help. The infield club is definitely one of my preferences as well. The right field line is brutal during afternoon games, but then again the tickets are cheaper, but I understand your regret.
      Hopefully I’ll be able to write up a similar review of Turner Field when I visit next month.

  4. Thank you. I’m looking forward to a dozen or so games this year and I’ll be using suggestions. Still, last year’s seats three rows behind the dugout for the Giants game were the best I’ve had so far.

    1. Sitting up close to the dugout is always enjoyable. Those are some of my favorite seats as well when I can get tickets up there. Thanks for the comment, and feel free to ask me anything specific about Nats Park as I’ll be glad to help.

  5. Nice article! I’ve sat in the PNC Diamond seats once, and they are definitely the best; but since they rarely sell for less than $100 on stubhub, it will be a pleasure reserved for once a year at most. The best part about it is the in-seat service. No missing 2 innings while you stand in a long concessions line.

    I have sat the most in sections 101-107. I have realized I do not really like the view from there, but the location in the stadium is great — the first seats you get to after entering the gates, a bunch of concessions right there. Easy to get in and out. But during day games, you will fry in those seats. It is brutal.

    I’ve got to take umbrage with your dissing of the RF terrace! Some of my favorite seats were like the last row in section 222. Even when I sat closer to the scoreboard, I enjoyed that area (I think I was lower in 232). They’re not too removed from concessions either. But you are right about the ushers there. Why they would be so vigilant about people sneaking into a $10 section is beyond me.

    My least favorite seats are the infield gallery. Do not like them one bit. Not really sure why, I guess it’s because they’re so shallow and steep, it feels weird to me. I’ve sat there twice (310 and 307) and didn’t like it either time. Though the fans in that section seem more into the game, I’ve noticed.

    Thanks for writing this article, I’m looking forward to trying out some new sections!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Frank. I too love the service at the Diamond Club, it’s something the Nationals did really well.
      I’ve never sat in the LF area for a day game, but I bet you do get sun out there–no cover.
      I understand your appreciation for the RF terrace. It is a quiet, relaxing section high above the action, but it’s just not for me. I think my big gripe about it is that you cannot see the RF corner from that area, at least from where I sat.
      You’re right that the IF gallery is steep, and the seats are a bit crammed in that sense. But I do think the view from there is much better than it is from the upper sections in the outfield.
      Enjoy your trips to the park!

  6. Just stumbled upon this and though I’ve been to Nats Park a bunch of times found it quite helpful. I am curious though about your review of the 300s – did you really mean the “isn’t” in the following sentence? “The view of the action isn’t decent for the price and unobstructed …” I’ve sat there a bunch of times and while you are high, I think the view of the field is outstanding, especially in the center sections – though I have trouble gauging fly balls. So I wondered if perhaps “isn’t” was a typo. Plus there’s usually a cross-breeze on the third level concourse which is very welcome on hot days. And it’s not nearly as crowded as the lower level, and has pretty decent food/beer options. Just my 2 cents. Thanks again for your review.

    1. Ruth,

      Yes, I believe that is a typo–thanks for pointing it out. I agree on judging the fly balls, though. And I believe that happens at every stadium the higher up you get. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. I’ve sat up in 404-406 a bunch of times, and the view is quite good. You can pick up 400 level seats for $10 on StubHub. I consider the 300 gallery level to be excellent, and you can find them for $15-20. Unobstructed views, and they share the concessions concourse with the 400 tier. Both are convenient to bathrooms, and escalators make for a quick trip to and from the entrance.

    Granted, I’m more interested in kicking back and watching the game without anyone blocking me, than in catching foul balls. As another poster said, there’s also a breeze up top.

    For reference, I’ve also sat in 117, 130, the Jefferson Suites, the Red Porch, and the PNC Diamond Seats, so I’m not a complete piker. I really do have a good time in the cheap seats.

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