Our recent trip to a Potomac Nationals minor league baseball game was a little bit nostalgic, like visiting a small town ballpark. Sitting in the stands, it was easy to forget the stresses of everyday life. We found spending a few hours with this championship Carolina League team to be great entertainment for our whole family.
Our team of reviewers (mom, dad, and two daughters, ages 8 and 13) arrived a few minutes after game time on a cooler-than-usual August evening. We paid the $5 parking fee and found a spot not too far from the stadium entrance. As we waited in line for tickets, which took about 20 minutes, we noticed many fans sporting Washington Nationals attire and carrying baseball gloves for the chance to catch a foul ball. Fortunately there is green space near the entrance, so our girls were able to run around as we waited in the slow-moving ticket line. Tickets may also be purchased in advance online.
With general admission grandstand tickets in hand, we made our way into the compact stadium, where there was no bag check. We chose to sit on the first base side, not realizing we would be facing the sun, but fortunately the sun sank below the tree line soon enough. Note that grandstand tickets, though the most affordable ticket option, are bleacher seats with no backs, so stadium seats might be a good idea if you have them. Because the stadium is not very large, nearly every seat feels close to the action on the field.
P-Nats games are known for offering many fun promotions that vary from game to game. The night we attended featured a replica road jersey giveaway, golf night, hockey night, Rotary night, and Kids Run the Bases, among several others. Some promotions, such as the Back-to-School Drive and Recycling Pays, can result in discount ticket prices, so check the team’s website before you go to take advantage of these offers. It’s also a good idea to walk around the stadium and check out all the offerings, regardless of where your seats are. Other options included a photo booth and face painting for $5.
One very popular diversion is a visit to the bounce houses and inflatable giant slides, which are located in a lighted, gravel-lined area outside the first base side. Seven dollars buys unlimited bouncing and sliding. The alternative is to pay $2 for a 10-minute bounce session or five slides. However, when we visited during the sixth inning and paid $2 for a ticket, there was no staff monitoring either the bounce houses or slides. Children were running around freely between both. We also noticed children using the equipment unsafely (sliding down headfirst, sliding in groups, teenagers inside the bounce houses, etc.) so we didn’t stay long.
Back in the stands, families can enjoy not only great baseball, but visits from and photos with team mascot Uncle Slam, $1 cookie sales, and other assorted food vendors, who began coming into stands with drinks and popcorn about halfway through the game. Note an ATM is located under the stadium.
For more food options (pretzels, cotton candy, fries, funnel cake, hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts, popcorn, pizza, etc.) there are several food vendors located in front of and underneath the stadium. Food prices seemed reasonable. Our girls were especially delighted to find Dippin’ Dots for sale. Outside food and drinks are not permitted. A combination of picnic tables and round tables with umbrella coverings are located near the entrance for those who prefer to eat at a table.
We also visited the team store located near the tables, where P-Nats (and some Washington Nationals) merchandise is for sale. Prices seemed a little high but not exorbitant. Before heading back to the stands we popped into the restroom, which was not very clean, but is located in a stadium, so was not too unpleasant all things considered. Both the women’s and men’s restrooms offer a small changing table.
Following the game, our daughters were excited to participate in Kids Run the Bases. A loud-speaker announcement instructed children to gather on the first base side and parents to wait on the third base side. However, several end-of-game contests and activities, such as the “tennis ball toss” and a golf swing competition, meant that Kids Run the Bases didn’t start for about 30 minutes. The wait felt unnecessarily long, but it seemed that hundreds of children remained to participate.
Finally, for those who collect autographs, we noticed players (already changed into street clothes) signing autographs following Kids Run the Bases. They were exiting from the clubhouse located under the first base side stands.
A Potomac Nationals game feels like a trip to a small town ballpark and is great entertainment for the whole family. Note that promotions like Kids Run the Bases, fireworks, etc. vary from game to game, so be sure to check the P-Nats website to learn more about giveaways, contests, special events and possible ticket discounts.
Also Good to Know
- From time-to-time, a major league player such as Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg or Jayson Werth will play a rehab game with the P-Nats.
- Located to the left of the team store, the P-Nats Hall of Fame includes Brad Ausmus, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Magglio Ordonez, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Albert Pujols, Bernie Williams and owner Art Silber.
- The P-Nats offer birthday parties, baseball camp, picnic options (including a Father’s Day Picnic), group outings, the Field of Dreams program, in which area youth baseball and softball teams get to take to the field with P-Nats players before home games, and a Kids Club with two membership levels: Rookie (free) or MVP ($20). There is also a Silver Sluggers Club for fans ages 55 and older. For more information about programs and clubs, visit the website.
Photos by Erin Link.