Once the concrete base for the stadium is completed, steel work can begin. Concrete work is expected to be completed sometime this month.
“People sometimes stop me on the street or in church and say, ‘Now I get it,'” Nutter said. “And I say, ‘What are you talking about?' and they'll respond how they can begin to see which way the ballpark is angled and how its awesome that it's pointed toward downtown. I joke and tell them all downtown ballparks do that, but we'll take the credit for it.”
Harrison Square is a $125 million downtown public-private revitalization project. It will include the $30 million ballpark, which will seat up to 8,000 people, parking garage and condominiums, half of which will look down into the ballpark. A ground-level retail floor is part of the four-story condo building. A six-story Courtyard-by-Marriott hotel will also be nearby and is expected to open in the spring of 2010. Groundbreaking for the project was on Nov. 29.
Stadium features include a 40-foot video/scoreboard and rooftop seating section attached to the side of the parking garage over the right-field wall, a grass area for picnickers and fans to sit, a two-acre public park with a water design, amphitheater, player batting cages on the concourse that can also be used by the fans, a rooftop area on top of the condos for private parties and 16 luxury suites. Players will be treated to a weight room and a lounge room with big screen televisions.
Selling the ballpark hasn't been easy for Nutter, who said he's always receiving phone calls or being stopped in public from local citizens who've got questions, concerns and even complaints about the money being poured into the project.
“In reality, we know, at first there was a lot of negativity and hostility and that's normal,” Nutter said.
Nutter has been on the circuit in recent months speaking at area clubs and events and selling Harrison Square as a positive for the community.
“It's not as negative as it was before,” Nutter said.
Case in point: Nutter was at the Lions Club in Auburn not too long ago and people there were raving about the amphitheatre behind centerfield.
“You can do a lot of things out there with the Wizards in or out of town,” Nutter said. “It's kind of like Jefferson Pointe. We've got to let people know about the things going on here. We're trying to get the word out.”
Nutter said the Wizards front office has already sold more season tickets for the 2009 season than any of the nine years he's been general manager. Including the 16 sold out luxury suites, Nutter said 1,250 season tickets have been sold. That doesn't include any mini or weekend packages, which haven't yet gone on sale.
The parking garage is expected to be finished in July. Lincoln Financial employees will park there and the company's old lots will be torn up so the land can be used for the project. The luxury suite construction is to be started in August. The condominium/retail building construction is slated to mirror the work of the stadium and is to open by June 1, 2009.
Wizards tickets for 2009 season$5 berm seating: Open seating in the outfield
$8 reserved seats: Near first base and third base
$9 all-star seats: Behind home plate and to the dugouts
$9 terrace box seats: Four or six grouped seats around a table
$10 monster seats: Behind left field, including rail
$12.50 scout seats: Behind home plate with extra space