Petition Started to “Ensure metro service for Washington Nationals home playoff games”

by Prince Of Petworth October 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm 71 Comments


The petition says:

“Metro SafeTrack maintenance is an extremely important initiative that will hopefully improve the safety of the Washington DC public rail system which has been in disrepair for years. The residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia; as well as millions of visitors to the area have dealt with the disruption that systematic closures to rail lines have incurred. These closures are a necessary inconvenience to reduce the number of, and impact of accidents surrounding the Metro system. However in the coming weeks, the Washington Nationals will be entering the playoffs for the third time in their brief history.

The stadium was intelligently designed to rely heavily on Metro to passenger fans to and from the games. At present time, the Metro is scheduled to close at 11:20 PM on days that the Nationals would be playing at home; this would result in many fans having to leave the game during the 7th inning or earlier.

Mr. Paul Wiedelfeld needs to make an exception for our perennial playoff contender so that fans can enjoy our home team and that we can provide the support the players need to bring home a World Series win. Anything less than a packed house through 9 innings would be an embarrassment for the city, the team, the fan base, and the Metro rail system.”

  • Ward One Resident

    Hmmm, first two games (hopefully there won’t be a third) of NLDS are at 5:38pm on Friday and 4:08pm on Saturday. They may want to adjust their petition.

    • crisis averted – Ward One Resident for President! :) But I’m sure OP is talking all way the through (God willing they make it past this round)

      • JohnH

        God willing is right. I still think it’s silly given the Nats have never ponied up for it and do not have money to from anyone else as far as anyone knows currently. (And no it is not MLB “policy”.) Why should WMATA consider it when it’s all just talk and nothing is actually on the table? Hell, get the players to pool some money together. Could you imagine if instead of just complaining about it to the media, Max Scherzer offered to pay for it himself? Now that’s a winning PR strategy. They’re complaining about not having the fans in the stands – well help them out.

        • Yeah, how about DC gives a crap about Nats home games after the Nats repay the billion dollars DC taxpayers gave them.

        • CHGal

          Except WMATA has specifically said they won’t even entertain the idea during safetrack.

          • JohnH

            Yes, but again – there’s not even an offer on the table. I would almost guarantee you if Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer or a group of players came together to offer to pay for it – that’s how you put pressure on WMATA to make an exception.
            Hypothetical complaining is not terribly effective.

  • i8pi

    “These closures are a necessary inconvenience to reduce the number of, and impact of accidents surrounding the Metro system. However…”

    However what? However sometimes you have to put baseball before the safety of Metro riders?

    “Anything less than a packed house through 9 innings would be an embarrassment for the city, the team, the fan base, and the Metro rail system.”

    I can think of other things that would be a bigger embarrassment to the city and the Metro system.

    • Anon

      Thankfully the first two games are starting early enough that metro’s early closure won’t affect them. However, that shouldn’t be expected through the entire playoffs. As some other posters have mentioned, this is not an MLB issue to resolve or a Ted Lerner issue to resolve– it rests solely on the shoulders of WMATA. A no exceptions rule is stupid. Everything has exceptions, and staying open so that fans who rely upon public transportation to watch their baseball team during the post season should be one of them. The counter argument is not safety, its schedule. If it was a safety issue then the metro would not be running at all. The GM wants to stay on schedule to fix the Metro, which is an honorable goal that should have exceptions. I am a life long DC sports fan and often I have to defend DC as a sports town. Seeing people heading towards the exits in the 7th inning of a tight game because metro is trying to keep their schedule would be absurd. This subject is getting some coverage Dan Steinberg and Tom Boswell.

      • dcd

        I’m not sure it’s WMATA’s concern that DC sports fans might be ridiculed if Metro doesn’t stay open.

        • Anon

          No, but it is WMATA’s concern to address the interest of the community, which certainly would include the 45,000 people that attend the games. And while some people may not consider it a concern, I do find it embarrassing that our public transit system cannot figure out a way to serve the fan base of its playoff bound team.

          • joel

            They already said no to adjusting the schedule for the 30,000 attendees of the marine corp marathon. if they make an exception for baseball they should do the same for the marathon.

      • JohnH

        Who’s offered to pay for it? Oh wait, nobody has. That’s problem #1.

      • DM

        I mean, I went to the packed Billy Joel concert at Nats Stadium in July. Some left before the encore to catch the Metro; we grabbed a drink nearby and waited for Uber to come off surge pricing an hour later.
        The point is, we’re all making sacrifices. Concerts, marathons, service workers who actually depend on the Metro–what makes these people less deserving of an exception than baseball fans? If you’re able to shell out money for tickets–just like us with Billy Joel–take an Uber. Or go to an afternoon game.

        you can afford a playoff game, budget for an Uber.

        • CHGal

          Do you have any idea how many service workers it takes to put on a baseball game? Hundreds. They’re getting screwed as well.

          • JohnH

            First, again the Nats aren’t offering to do anything. If they truly cared about their workers, they could give them $10 bonuses to help pay for their cabs or Ubers home.
            Secondly, a lot of employees aren’t able to leave when the last out of the 9th inning occurs. The Metro extension wouldn’t help them regardless.

          • CHGal

            Well, do we know the Nats haven’t offered anything? We don’t. And how do you know that this extension wouldn’t help them. It’s hypothetical, there aren’t any specifics. It seems they would be included in the thought process that extends the hours.

          • JohnH

            If they have offered WMATA the money, that would be the dumbest thing in the world to keep it a secret. A pro baseball team doesn’t give up money very often for the own good of others….

  • Anonymous

    I think they’re petitioning the wrong people. They need to petition the Nats owners to either start the games earlier or open their wallets to compensate metro for having to reschedule maintenance.

    • Anon

      +1 wallets.

    • textdoc


    • Cleveland Park runner

      Neither of those are options. The Nats don’t set the post-season schedule, and WMATA won’t take money to open metro during safetrack hours (Marine Corps Marathon, among others, unsuccessfully tried). This isn’t Ted Lerner’s fault.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe not Ted Lerner’s fault, but neither is it WMATA’s concern. If the Nats want fans to be able to get to the game then the Nats need to solve the problem. But I see now it’s a moot point since the games are early; sounds like one of those IS an option after all.

      • No Bikes

        Right, after taking a huge dump all over the Marine Corps Marathon, WMATA isn’t about to stop making enemies anytime soon. Uber and Marriott are the winners here.

      • dcd

        This is correct. The old issue was that WMATA used to require a payment (around $30,000) to stay open after normal hours. The Lerners, cheap SOBs that they are, refused to pay it.
        With the advent of SafeTrack, that changed. When WMATA implemented it, they were clear – no exceptions (except Inauguration Day, I think). This isn’t an issue of payment, and the GM really can’t back down, as he’s explicitly tied the need the early closures to safety. If he does back down, and there’s a serious accident in the next few weeks, or one of the playoff nights . . . can you imagine?
        The Marine Corps Marathon had to adjust it’s schedule to accommodate Metro’s hours, and if you think they’re going to refuse to change Metro’s schedule for the MCM but will for the Nationals, I think you’re going to be very disappointed. Bottom line – if you’re going to a late game, you need to make other arrangements. But really, what are the chances of that? (Let’s go Mets!)

        • Belinskaya

          It was never the Lerners being cheap SOBs – it’s MLB policy that teams NOT pony up money in this manner. To go against MLB policy is to risk having the team taken away. For the Lerners to pony up personal funds or funds from their business may not be particularly legal.

          At least blame the right jerks here – MLB.

          • dcd

            ” it’s MLB policy that teams NOT pony up money in this manner.” Really? I had no idea. Learn something new every day.

          • JohnH

            It is NOT MLB policy. When the topic came up a few years ago, MLB thought it would set a “bad precedent”. But there is no policy and the Nats still could have done it.

        • ***

          “The Marine Corps Marathon had to adjust it’s schedule to accommodate Metro’s hours” – I don’t think this is true. Marine Corp. Marathon is starting at 7:55am. Metro opens at 7am, which means for most of DC, metro will not be an option.

          • west_egg

            Metro traditionally opens at 5:30 to accommodate marathon participants. Not this year.

          • ***

            Right. And the marathon did not adjust the race to start later this year.

          • ClePark

            Not exactly starting later, but unlike years past the starting line will be open through 8:55 so people can actually start at any time between then, allowing some to take metro if they need to.

          • dcd

            Right – the beginning start time is the same, but has been extended. The organizers also altered the route, changing some of the benchmarks so slower runners can have a chance to get past them and not have to terminate the marathon early.
            These quotes, by the MCM marketing manager as reported by the Post, shodul be taken to heart by Nats fans:
            “Residents have altered their commutes and adjusted entertainment plans in response to the surges that have shut down lines and reduced the service schedule,” marathon marketing manager Marc Goldman said at a news conference Wednesday. “The [Marine Corps Marathon] will ask for the same flexibility of the runners during Marine Corps Marathon weekend.”
            Also, from the race director:
            “When you realize that we have a track record of ridership [and] profit for Metro, you would say, ‘This is an opportunity to make money,’ ” he said. “It’s not about a one day making profit. It’s staying on message of ‘the maintenance has got to get done. We need safety.’ And [Wiedefeld] basically has been true to his maintenance plan that they were not going to give a one-day waiver to us and have to explain why.”

    • Anony


  • Petworth Landlord

    I’m a season ticket, and I strongly disagree that any exception should be made for late baseball games. First, WMATA said no exceptions. So to expect or ask for an exception is silly. If the marine corps marathon didn’t get one, why should MULTIPLE baseball games.

    Second, baseball is a luxury product for those (like me) with disposable income. Those who can afford baseball games can afford to make alternative transportation arrangements so that WMATA can focus on improving the metro for everyone–not just those with means.

    I also do not believe there should be an online petition for everything ever.

    • skj84

      I thought there were exceptions, i.e Inauguration? Normally i’m anti-petition, but I agree with this one. Whether its WMATA or the Nats themselves, the midnight closures are going to leave a lot of people stranded. Disagree baseball games are luxury products, and even then people have budgets. Uber for sure will be surging after those games, not to mention it will be next to impossible to get a cab.

      • Anon

        Playoff baseball is definitely a luxury product. Just because many will overspend on it doesn’t make it any less true.

      • CHGal

        Inauguration was specifically pointed out at the start of SafeTrack as the only exception. It’s not good public policy to tell 45,000 people to just take an uber. Any games after this round (God willing.) would almost definitely be prime-time, which with eh extended length of playoff games puts us really damn close to the end of service. And if you work at the stadium, you’re screwed.

        • JoDa

          The workers are my concern. They are certainly not consuming a luxury product, and most of them can in no way, shape, or form afford the luxury product – for those who live in cities – of car transportation (either their own or hired). Working for the Nats probably pays better than your average similar job, but it’s also a job only available 6-7 months out of the year.
          Probably the best middle ground solution here is some alternative bus service. Additional Circulators to Union Station and shuttles to other Metro stations with high levels of bus service and parking, at least. Ideally they’d run buses that mirror the Metro lines at least a little ways out into the suburbs for a few hours after games.

      • domrep

        Crisis averted with the start times but something to monitor if they make it to the NLCS.

      • rockyartdc

        +1. Because of no late night special metro, it took me an hour and a half to get home from the stadium after the Springsteen concert when it’s normally a 15-20 min metro ride. With that many people forced to use other non-metrorail options, there is an extreme shortage of ubers and cabs (and even if you can find one, they are mired in traffic) and the buses were completely full (and also stuck in stand-still traffic). I find it unacceptable for the city not to at least think of non-rail alternatives for folks (more, frequent buses, changing traffic patterns near the stadium) to at least help alleviate the mess and headaches metro has created through safetrack.

  • Shaw

    Why on earth should the system be changed to cater to sports fans? You can leave early, you can take a different method of transit home, you could watch the game from home to begin with, or you could – and here’s a genius idea – ASK THE TEAM TO SCHEDULE THE GAMES EARLIER! Or on a weekend during the day. They have a custom built stadium that is available exclusively for their use, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year that they wish to use it. Why should Metro have to disrupt a regional safety plan to accommodate the time the team prefers? There is nothing special that entitles any sports team to be allowed to dictate the dates and times of maintenance work to Metro.

    • Belinskaya

      The team doesn’t schedule playoff games – MLB does that in conjunction with the network(s) who have distribution deals. The question is which pre-determined game slot will be assigned to the Nats. It looks like they were given the afternoon slot for the first round, but there are no guarantees for future rounds. The evening slots are late for West Coast live distribution and all those eyeballs on the ads the network has sold. The teams have no choices at this point.

    • Anon

      The team doesn’t schedule the games. MLB does. Additionally, Metro does cater to sports teams and other special events. They always have. You have to pay extra to keep the metro open later (or earlier). Problem is that metro is not excepting the $$$ to stay open. If running the metro at midnight was more dangerous than any other time of day that it is currently running, then it would be understandable not to keep it open– but that is not the case.

    • dcd

      Your first and last two sentences are spot on. The rest . . . not so much. You seem to have the impression that the Nationals control the playoff schedule (they don’t) and that the games can be scheduled to accommodate WMATA. While theoretically possible, MLB would be saying, “we’re going to forego our optimal schedule from a TV ratings perspective so that nationals fans won’t have to leave early, or will have an easier time getting home.” No chance.

  • Love ya Nats, but baseball is far less important than Metro repairs. Whoever considers “less than a packed house through 9 innings” to be MORE of an embarrassment than an unsafe and crumbling rail system needs to reevaluate their priorities.

    No exceptions for the MC Marathon, baseball, hockey, basketball, football, etc. Commuters have their lives impacted by SafeTrack *every day* and either rearrange their schedules or find other methods of transportation. Why should baseball fans be treated any differently?

  • OP

    OP here and I am grateful that this was picked up by PoP because the word is getting out. Seeing some of the comments I think that there are a few misconceptions floating around. First– MLB controls the schedule, not the Nats. Second– WMATA does stay open late for sporting events. Teams have to pay extra money to do so, unfortunately WMATA is not accepting those fees during SafeTracks. And third I don’t believe that transportation for sports fans trumps safety concerns. I don’t consider those two causes mutually exclusive. I realize that for people who are not sports fans this may be difficult to understand, but this is a really big deal and I felt that this petition would be a good way for WMATA to hear how important the rail is to the community they serve. I don’t think that having metro open is more important than safety, but the metro runs every day. It is obviously operating in a manner that safety experts think is within a tolerable risk level to take hundreds of thousands of people to and from work every day. I would say that it is probably a larger safety concern to expect all those people to get home without Metro (operating in its current condition) running. What metro is concerned about is keeping their schedule, which is great, but there certainly should be exceptions to consider. For me, someone who has lived their entire life in the DC area, having their team in the playoffs “after hours” is one of them. 43,000 people will attend the game and hundreds more work at the stadium This is a large public event for DC and our public transit system should be available to provide transportation. And yes… it is an embarrassment to our city if it does not. If people are forced to leave early in large crowds during the 7th inning of a 1-1 game, that will be news in other cities; it will be on ESPN. The national television commentators will be befuddled, and Washington sports fans will be the butt of jokes around the country. If you don’t care about sports, then that may not bother you. But for me, and like minded sports fans it matters.

    • ***

      100% agreed. This will be a nationally televised event with people all over the country watching. It’s important for DC to be well represented, and having butts in seats for the local team in the playoffs is pretty important. Let’s also remember there will be people traveling to attend these games – great lasting impression of DC to go home with is having to hail an 8X surge Uber to get back to a hotel from a game. How are we ever going to be taken seriously for an Olympic Bid if we can’t even manage to have metro running for a few MLB playoff games.

      • Anonymous

        If you look at the situation from WMATA’s current perspective, none of your arguments are persuasive. You frequently document the failings of WMATA in your posts here, so you should probably understand that “how a Nats game looks on TV” is not high on their list of concerns right now. As an avid fan of a different DC sports team, I have sympathy for the situation, but we and WMATA need to be worried about the bigger picture.

      • Colin

        ” It’s important for DC to be well represented”
        You’re confusing what’s important for you for what’s important to DC. I live in DC and don’t care at all how many fans are in attendance.

      • wdc

        I am solidly opposed to anything that increases DC’s chances of being saddled with the Olympics.

    • Northzax

      So why not a petition to MLB to schedule Nats games to accommodate construction and safety? Why is your blame on Wmata for doing what was announced publicly 6 months ago and is in the common good, and not on MLB for putting TV revenue ahead of fans’ safety? We built them a $800m stadium, and now you want us to spend more money so they can sell tickets to it?

    • Anonymous

      Northzax got it. Impassioned pleas notwithstanding, I don’t see how or why the burden would be on WMATA to address this situation. Where’s the petition to MLB and the Nats to ensure that fans will have sufficient transportation to the games? It’s disingenuous to act as if their hands are somehow tied here. And even if (for the sake of argument) they are, so are WMATA’s. Remember, they have obligations to perform the repair work and if the Nats make a deep playoff run, you’re going to be asking them to disrupt their planned work schedule for almost a month. So maybe WMATA can be part of the solution, but the onus here should be on MLB and the Nats to figure it out.

    • los

      I couldn’t care less about a potential befuddlement of ESPN and tv commentators or DC sport fans being the butt of jokes. Really, this whole thing is silly. Safetrack’s goal is to actually save lives. This is far more important than a silly game. Our metro is far more embarrassing than having a the Nats playing with a few empty seats
      I personally think that sports teams already receive far too many benefits and that the importance of professional sports is becoming a detriment to our society. Seriously, there are far more important things in life than the home team winning

  • ***

    Maybe we should focus on the bigger issue, which is that post-SafeTrack, Metro has proposed keeping the SafeTrack hours, which means regular season Nationals games (which start at 7:05pm) will empty out around the 7th inning. Same for other sporting events, concerts, etc. Sure – if you have the resources to attend concerts, sporting events, etc. then you have the resources to get a cab, uber… although it also means that additional $20-$30 each time you go out means you do less – fewer people attend concerts because they have to be more selective, etc. This starts to erode the bar and restaurant scene DC has started to build. This also puts all of the employees in difficult positions.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Serious question: how many other MLB playoff teams’ will have better transit access to their teams’ home games than we will, assuming no change? Two?
    As noted above, attending the game as a fan is a luxury, expecting a special accommodation for fans is absurd. As for the workers, I am more sympathetic to them than to the fans, but I think the workers at the stadium are more resourceful than you give them credit for, and more resourceful than most of us white-collar types are generally. They will figure it out.

    • ***

      I’m not going to pretend I know the transit situation at every ballpark, but I would wager that several of the other ballparks we are talking about are surrounded by a massive parking lot with spectators that are used to driving (on a daily basis). Kinda hard to compare to DC where a decent portion of people rely on metro.

      • Northzax

        Somehow…Giants fans at AT&T park have managed just fine for a couple of World Series runs with a BART system that closes at midnight. Maybe people in San Francisco are smarter than us?

        • JS

          Sure, but for things like the World Series the West Coast home games often start around 5 PM local time in order to line up with East Coast primetime viewing hours.

    • madmonk28

      Yeah, where did people get the idea that Metro was some sort of mass transit system for the public?

  • Privileged class Americans have forgotten how to sacrifice or compromise. You want to watch a late baseball game at the same time WMATA is trying to fix your daily commuter trains? Take a freaking bus.

    • CHGal

      Sure, if there were an adequate number of busses running at midnight to handle 45,000 people.

      • Ack

        +1 – I hope “take a freaking bus” is a joke That’s fine to tell a few people, not helpful for a stadium.

      • Kevin

        I mean, it’s never 45,000 people. Anyone who has been to a sold out game at Nats Park knows how many people drive to the park, how many people walk to the park, how many people uber and how many people metro. Spoiler alert: metro riders make up, maybe, half of those in attendance.

        • Anonymous

          +1. I know it makes the argument seem more weighty, but the idea that 45,000 people are leaving the stadium and getting on the metro is not believable.

          • Nats home games are basically free advertising for Virginia car dealerships.

        • CHGal

          OK, so are there enough busses running at midnight to handle 20,000 people? I think you know that answer. The city built the stadium next to a metro stop for a reason.

          • There aren’t 20,000 people petitioning either. There are currently 127.

  • Dognonymous

    A petition is kind of a funny avenue for this. Petitions are usually about soliciting overwhelming numbers of signatures to indicate support for something. In this case, we already know pretty much how many people the regular closing time would affect: around 43k-45k when you combine stadium capacity and staff. If 500,000 people sign it, who cares? They’re not going to be at the games…

    • Petworth Landlord

      Thank you. WMATA is not going to make this sort of decision based on a couple hundred online petition signatures from those who’d rather Metro delay its safety plans to save them a $20 cab/uber home.

  • Eric Rountree

    We need the Metro Train Service to get home safe.

  • jsauri

    I’m a big Nats fan and season ticket holder since 2008. But I disagree with using tax payer money to keep Metro open for a few thousand baseball fans. If the team wants to pay for it. Great! God knows they make enough money. And yes, if fans leave, it will look bad on tv. But if that happens, then that’s the fans we have and the reputation will be earned. And if you don’t want to deal with it, then don’t come. It’s not the city’s responsibility to cater to your baseball experience.


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