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The Nationals are trying to keep Phillies fans from filling up their ballpark

Feb 3, 2012, 9:27 AM EDT

Phillies fans AP

Remember how all those Phillies fans came down to D.C. the past couple of years and basically took over the Nationals’ ballpark during Nats-Phillies series?  Yeah, that was awesome. Especially considering that it was helped out in a major way by the team actively soliciting group sales in the Philadelphia area prior to regular season tickets even going on sale, ensuring that Philly fans had an advantage.

Well, the Nationals have re-thunk that strategy. Here’s Nats’ COO Andy Feffer:

“For several years now, our fans, everybody, have been screaming about the number of Phillies fans that invade our park when we have a series here at Nationals Park,” Feffer said. “Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the Phillies fans in our ballpark in Washington more than anything. We sat down as a group and we said, ‘You know what? It’s time to take our park back in Washington and get our fans in this park.’

The solution: the Nationals have launched what they call the “Take Back the Park” initiative. Beginning Friday, single-game tickets for the May 4-6 Nationals vs. Phillies series are only available to season-ticket holders and fans who reside in Washington, Maryland or Virginia.

Thank goodness such a system cannot be beat. Because, really, no one in Philly knows anyone in those three states who could order tickets for them. Nor can they employ proxies to conceal their IP address when ordering online. That would be unheard of!  I mean, if people could do that, they’d also be able to get past MLB.tv’s blackout policies by tricking ‘em into thinking you were logging on from an un-blacked-out area.

Which has never happened ever! Especially during a particular Reds-Braves series last year!

  1. mattjg - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    The Nats better hope they get off to a hot start. If the team’s hanging around the top of the division come the first week of May, they should have no problem bringing in fans to see them compete against their closest division rival. If, on the other hand, they’re languishing in last place, there could be a lot of empty seats at those games assuming Phillies fans don’t circumvent the restrictions, or, you know, buy tickets from Stub Hub from Nats fans looking to make a profit/cut their losses.

  2. Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    “The Nationals are trying to keep Phillies fans from filling up their ballpark”
    They probably should stop hiring ex- Phillies players then huh? It’s going to be Like the Phillies south with Werth, Lidge, and Durbin. j/k

    So, I guess what will happen now is people will buy the tickets then put them on stub hub?

  3. illcomm - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    This is comical. Nobody buys their tickets from the nats. They go straight to stubhub.

  4. mojosmagic - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    STUBHUB

  5. bigleagues - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Craig,

    I know NOTHING of what you speak! (say no more, wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

    As for the Nat’s campaign . . . as someone who used to help conceive and market these kinds of packages, my professional analysis is . . . they really can’t lose. Worst case scenario Phillie’s Phans end up buying all of the tickets anyhow by ‘proxy’ . . . best case scenario they end up with more local (target) fans holding tickets to the Phillie’s series (and then sell them via secondary market to Phillies Phans anyway).

    But its nice to see the Nat’s gently prodding it’s fanbase into better support.

  6. redsfanmaryd - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Check out a Reds game in the summer when the Cubs are in town…. hard to tell from the crowd noise who the home team is.

    • jwbiii - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Come for the ballgame, stick around for the chili!

  7. halflight420 - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I mean, if there’s no fans of the opposing team there, whose gonna be there? the nationals are aweful and their fanbase is aweful, thats why road games there aare home games fro the phillies

    • mattjg - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      I won’t defend their fans, but the team was essentially .500 last year, and that was playing most of last season without their ace. Add a healthy Strasburg, a small bounceback from Werth and a lot of young players a year closer to their prime and that Nats are poised to contend for the playoffs even before considering the additions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        I heard Davey Johnson wants Bryce Harper to start the season with the big club. Not sure how realistic that is, but it’s interesting.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      My guess is the Nats will be far from “awful” in 2012.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        Maybe halflight was being sarcastic and added the extra e there to show the awe that he is full of.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        I might just have to try to get my Phightins Phan family and friends in DC and Virginia to snag some tickets…maybe set up some sort of reunion or something…

    • stinkfist5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      …and your spelling is “aweful.”

  8. leftywildcat - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Stupid, unenforceable idea from a 2nd division club – which had needed that revenue to help them be able to afford Werth in the 1st place. Mets’ stadium is closer to Phila anyway.

    I wonder if Bud’s refusal to put his Brewers back into the AL was partly based on the revenue received from diehard Cub fans making the short drive up to the Brewers’ park?

  9. papasadappa - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Its tough for a team like the Nat’s because the DC metro area is comprised of such a transient population. How many people are born in the area vs. move there because of work ? After college I had so many friends that moved to DC for jobs in government or politics and took their team allegiance with them. The proximity to an established team like the Orioles hurts as well. Give it time. This generation who has grown up with Nat’s baseball will create a fan base to draw from in coming years.

  10. snowbirdgothic - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    You stop saying mean things about Ryan Howard!

    Oh. Wait. Wrong post.

  11. burgundyandgold - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    I would love to know how to conceal the IP address to avoid the black out rules. How does one do that? Too old to be savvy I guess.

    • xmatt0926x - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      No sh*t. Me too. I’d love to cancel my cable, which I only keep because Comcast Sportsnet does almost all of the Phillies games. If I could beat that blackout deal on MLB.Com than I’d be very happy. I’m just not tech savvy enough. Damn me!!!

      • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        I don’t think you’ll find that information on this site that is owned by comcast. Try a websearch. Also fios has comcast sportsnet.

  12. El Bravo - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Wow, I can say I’m rooting for the Phillies on this one, just to grind the Nats’ org’s gears a bit.

    • Utley's Hair - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      Wow…I’m not sure what to say here…I’m just…huh…wow….

      And sorry Da Bulls had their a$$es handed to them by their former coach and the Sixers.

      • El Bravo - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        Dude, you don’t want to go there do you? The Bulls are playing with four arms tied behind their backs and still owning the East, despite many injuries. They’ll stumble into that top seed and deal with those chumps in the playoffs. Thibs has got the coaching game on lock! GO BULLS!!!!!

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        Bravo, The Sixers are really missing their big man as well 7’1″ Hawes. They are scoring around 20 pts less per game since he’s been out. So the whipping the Sixers gave the Bulls could have been much worse actually. 12-3 and 13-4 in the east actually. The Sixers play Miami tonight. This will be the true test of their strength.

      • El Bravo - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        No way. You can’t even compare the Bulls to your B-squad. The Bulls are comparable to the Heat/Mavs/OKC/…you know, good teams…. . The Bucks beat Miami the other night, so don’t consider it any sort of true litmus test if they beat the heat. Make the playoffs and then we can really talk some smack. Otherwise, no contest, Bulls are the team to beat in the east!!!

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:41 PM

        BOOOO! The Heat came up big in the 4th and put a smack down on the Sixers.

  13. philly56 - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    I have family in the Baltimore area (Phillies Phans to boot) so even without StubHub that wouldn’t stop me.  I’ll still go but be even more obnoxious now, seeing as they tried to discriminate against me with their unethical ethnocentrism.

  14. db105 - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    All they have to do is package the Philly game with a low demand game. That would force Philly fan to sell the low demand game on stubhub and increase sales for a low demand game.

  15. mikedi33 - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    When the Nats still have 25000 tickets to sell may 1, because their fans did not buy them they will be available to phila. area fans.I traveled there from Phila atleast once each series the last 3 years. Yes I would be embarrassed as an organization when fully 80% of the park are Phillies fans. I also was there last year for a Nats-Cubs game and there were more Cub fans there than Nat fans. There just is not a large enough fanbase yet. I have also traveled to Pittsburgh the last 3 years to see the one series there. The Bucs took a different approach. Actually got an email from the Phillies tix office since I have season tickets with an offer for discounted tixs in Pittsburgh. I guess the Bucs will fill the seats any way they can.We play in Baltimore this year so we have 2 Citzen Bank Souths this year anyway.

    • natstowngreg - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM

      The difference between Nats-Phillies and Nats-Cubs is, the Phillies’ infestation is more obnoxious, but also more real. The Cubs infestation is a bit pathetic. Look at us, we root for a crappy team in a crumbling ballpark, we’re so cool. Last season, I actually was stuck near a discussion in which a Cubs fan claimed that the Wrigley Field scoreboard was better because it was old and manual. Torture.

      Despite having to endure the Phillies infestation many times, I didn’t have a problem with the old Stan Kasten policy. More cash for the Lerners to spend on talent. And this may come as a shock, but some members of the infestation weren’t obnoxious at all. Looking forward to the Yankees infestiation in June. They visited RFK in 2006 and nothing from any NL team’s fans compared to the electricy in the park. I wasn’t able to attend any of the games when the Red Sox visited in 2009, but I imagine it was similar.

      The solution isn’t trying to keep visiting fans out of the ballpark. As others have pointed out, fans will find tickets. I’ve experienced this at Capitals games, as a fan of another hockey team, when they tried to freeze out (pun intended) visiting fans. The solution is to win, and get more of your own front-runners into the ballpark.

  16. kellyb9 - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Put out a good product and people will stop selling their seats to Phillies fans…. problem solved. I’m not sure why you’d intentionally keep fans of any team out of the stadium. The Phillies might wear red, but their fans money is still green last I checked.

  17. dw3dw - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    This is a pretty interesting move from the Nationals for a couple of reasons. Most cities/teams have a core of fans who will come no matter the record; MLB estimates the core to average between 10,000 & 15,000 fans. But after that attendance is (usually) driven by how good the team is–for example, the Phillies have led the league in attendance the past two years, and were second the year before that, but in the past when they’ve been bad, attendance was in the bottom half of the NL–look at the late 90s, for example. Even after the new ballpark opened, as recently as 2006 and 2007, the Phillies were 7th and 9th in attendance. Only as a powerhouse contender does the park sellout. So: there is a lot of buzz in DC about the Nationals–is the front office worried that despite their best finish last year (3rd place, 80-81) and team improvements, plus Bryce Harper on the way, DC fans STILL aren’t going to buy tickets? I wonder. Also: as others have said, Nationals Park is usually full of fans from other teams–Mets fans are rowdy regulars, and there is always a HUGE group of Braves fans, as well as Cubs, Cardinals, etc. Why the special appeal to prevent Phillies fans from coming to the game? What is is about Phillies fans that makes them unwelcome, as opposed to fans from other teams? And the Nationals had winning record against the Phillies last year–very satisfying for Nationals fans when there is not much else going on. And what is it with these two franchises anyway? When ESPN announced their Sunday Night baseball schedule, Phillies fans howled (perhaps rightfully so) because the Nationals have two games to the Phillies one (against the Nationals, no less). Maybe Stan Kasten knew what he was doing when he went on Philly talk a radio before the 2008 season and invited Phillies fans down to DC for the games.

    • natstowngreg - Feb 3, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I’ve had Phillies fans tell me they come to Nats Park from the Philly area because they can’t get tickets at CBP. My hope is, as the Nats improve, that will someday be reversed.

      The front-runners came out in 2005 when the Nats arrived, and they came out in 2008, to see the new ballpark. Those who complain about the Phillies infestation, understandable as their complaints may be, are accomplishing nothing. It’s about winning.

      The howling about the Sunday Night schedule is misplaced. ESPN announced fewer than half of its games. The Phillies have a much greater chance of getting additional games than the Nats.

      More on the subject from Dan Steinburg of The Washington Post:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/post/nationals-launch-take-back-the-park-campaign/2012/02/03/gIQAsyehmQ_blog.html?tid=pm_sports_pop

  18. tk1966 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Reminds me of a few years back when Penguins fans would fill the Cap Center outside Washington and outnumber the Capitals fans, so Leonsis had ticket order calls from the 412 area code blocked.

    • nolanwiffle - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      The building you refer to was actually the Capital Centre……..much classier when the “r” precedes the “e”.

    • nolanwiffle - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      The building you’re referring to was actually the Capital Centre……much classier when the “r” precedes the “e”.

  19. bravojawja - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I just like how the Nats use the word “invade” to describe what the Phillie fans are doing, like they’re Mongols or zebra mussels or body snatchers or something. The barbarians are at the gates! Sell them $10 beer!

  20. spudchukar - Feb 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Soon it will be the other way around, as the high flying Nats fans invade the aging flailing Pheelies home games.

  21. mox19380 - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Sorry Washington, we didn’t mean to assist your economy by staying in your hotels, eating in your restaurants, paying for metro tickets. Sorry Nationals we didn’t realize you didn’t appreciate how once a year you had 3x’s your normal crowd, sold at least twice as much beer and for 9 games a year resembled a real MLB city.

    If they don’t want phillies fans showing up in droves go back to Montreal.

    • mox19380 - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      What makes this especially strange is, last year a Nationals PR guy went on Philadelphia sports radio and essentially begged phillies fans to come down to CBP South. I’m getting mix signals here. Should I stay or should I go?

    • kinggw - Feb 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      Its ok, they wont be there very much longer. Phillies fans do turnout for Nats games, but most of those so called fans are bandwagon fans. Half of them couldnt tell you who Von Hayes, Mickey Morandini, or Darren Daulton is or when they played for the Phillies. They werent there before the Phillies’ latest run and as they decline and teams like the Nats and Marlins take control of the division, they will disappear again.

  22. sisqsage - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    A Natty solution: try winning more games. That will get your fans back. Were they ever there to begin with?

  23. mojosmagic - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Burgundy you can get software to change IP addresses as well as third party’s who charge a nominal fee. Start with a Google search.

  24. schmedley69 - Feb 3, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Have you ever been to a non-Phillies Nats game or seen one on TV? If you’re like most people in D.C., you haven’t, so let me fill you in: the place is pretty much empty. So, if their plan works and Phillies fans are unable to snatch-up all of the tickets, it’s not likely that Nats fans will fill the void and pack the stadium on their own, which means there should be plenty of tickets available on game day for walk-up sales. This is strictly a PR move.

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