This weekend, the Red Sox will host the Washington Nationals for the first time since 2006 and for the second time since the Nationals moved from Montreal at the end of the 2004 season. As a former DC resident, I have a bit of a soft spot for the Nats (and the Expos before them and their Curly W logo back when it was “Senators retro”) and I have tickets for one of the games this weekend.
Since there was positive feedback to my “Bruins vs. Caps, T vs WMATA“) post on Boston to a T a couple months back, I think it’s a time for a sequel this time pitting Kenmore versus the opposition’s home station, Navy Yard on the Washington Metro. Two stadiums, two cities, two totally different Green Lines. Get your peanuts and Cracker Jack ready for a whole bunch of baseball-related puns!
Kenmore: Two decades younger than Fenway Park, Kenmore was recently renovated to better handle gameday crowds and to introduce wheelchair access which is important given it’s the final transfer point between the B, C, and D lines. The mezzaine and the passageway to Kenmore Square are adorned with images of the Red Sox’s rich history. It also gained a very modern and awkward busway canopy which looks like the escalator canopies in DC. For pregame service, 3-car trains are easy to come by (especially for weeknight games) with the occasional 4-car special to Park Street being a new addition.
Navy Yard: The exit closest to Nationals Park (Half Street), built specifically for ballgame crowds in the base of a new building, looks far modern than the 1970s vintate shell of the station. Limited history of the Nationals aside, the walls are more likely to be adorned with ads for the defense contractor flavour of the week than anything indicating baseball. WMATA puts in some special 8-car trains hitting all the transfer stations to increase service though this more an “as they feel like it” measure lately.
Kenmore: Depending on if you enter Fenway at Lansdowne Street or Yawkey Way, the two to three block walk from Kenmore to Fenway passes by sights ranging from the BU Bookstore to the infamous Popeye’s that sunk the 2011 season then over the Pike to Game On and Cask & Flagon. The potential downside are the scores of scorecard/program peddlers and T-shirt sellers.
Navy Yard: One block to the Center Field gate of Nationals Park but that block is more a walkway with the occasional food truck and souvenir sellers of debatable refute. Nearby, at least for now, are two temporary venues for pregame food and entertainment – The Bullpen and
Das Bullpen The Fairgrounds. Those wanting a Kenmore-like walk can use the New Jersey Avenue exit whose path goes around construction and parking lots.
Winner: Kenmore. Then again, one hundred years versus four…
Kenmore: My first trip via transit to Fenway introduced me to the postgame ailment I call the “Kenmore Krush” where thousands try to enter at the same time which leads to a backup that sometimes spills from the faregates to the sidewalk outside. However, on the inbound platform all semblance of a schedule is thrown out of the window as service immediately post-game runs on a convenient “load and go” basis.
Navy Yard: In practice the Half Street entrance should be entry-only post-game though lately this hasn’t been enforced all games. Though predictably there’s no “Kenmore Krush” situation here, the real fun comes on the platform. In typical WMATA fashion, parts of the platform are cordoned off with scissors gates with access given to parts as they feel like it and often they “forget” to open the gates. And even with a queue of special trains that takes out one track to the Maryland border, good luck if weekend trackwork leads to a long wait!
The Road Trip
Kenmore: Non-baseball attractions include the the entire Ken-Fen neighborhood with its scores of shops, restaurants, residences, and soon a. My recommendations would be the Barnes & Noble-run BU Bookstore and Comicopia, the latter of which you can buy a shirt professing your hate of the Green Line.
Navy Yard: You build a ballpark to revitalize a blighted area. The economy goes south literally the second it opens. Both entrances don’t have much development minus some condo buildings, the office building that houses Nationals team headquarters, and the US DOT headquarters with nearby Starbucks/CVS combo. Down a ways, The Yards is where its at with retail, a park, and a really nice bridge.
Winner: Kenmore, however my DC side misses the to-open Harris Teeter at The Yards. Why can’t New England have subs and pizza in supermarkets?
The Double Switch
Kenmore: Willing to walk a little? Within one mile there’s Blandford Street on the B, St. Mary’s Street on the C, Fenway on the D, Northeastern University on the E, and Ruggles on the Orange Line. There’s also Yawkey station on the Commuter Rail’s Framingham-Worcester Line which is a bit closer to the Fenway.
Navy Yard: The walk to Eastern Market on the Blue/Orange lines is about a mile and along the way there are actual restaurants, bars, and businesses. Waterfront and Anacostia, the Green Line stations adjacent to Navy Yard work too.
Winner: I’m tempted to side with Kenmore since those walks at night are a bit safer than the ones in DC.
Kenmore wins handily though again, 70+ year head start helps a lot. I’ll come back with a photo post of sorts later this weekend if anyone wants one! Play ball!
Station: Kenmore. Rating (1-10): 8
Ridership: When the Sox aren’t playing, local residents, BU students, and tourists wanting to see Fenway. There is also a decent amount of transfer traffic making the scissors transfer between the B, C, and D lines.
Pros: Take away the Sox and you have a nice if not slightly overbuilt transfer station. Though if it wasn’t for the Sox, would Kenmore be so nice? The canopy also looks nice at night, but…
Cons: Who approved that canopy? It seems to clash a ton.
A second opinion: As she wraps up her two year mission, Em Hall’s Metro-Venture review of Navy Yard is good reading!
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