Rachel Levitin: What's in a name? For Metro, a challenge

While most people in D.C. find themselves in a verbal squabbling match with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on a daily basis - even if the conversation is more of a soliloquy-type scenario rather than a dialogue - I, too, have an issue with the system. It has nothing to do with its inability to run an efficient system but rather its inability to get the name of the Nationals' ballpark correct upon arrival.

Here's my pet peeve: None of the train conductors seem to know that Nationals Park is called Nationals Park.

It's a minor detail that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it matters to me. Nationals Park, christened on the southeast waterfront in 2008, has a name. The park's not called Nationals Stadium or Nationals Ballpark or even Nationals Ballpark Stadium (or any other incarnation that's been cobbled together by Metro staff).

This simple oversight begs the question: is it that hard to get it right? Really?

I can see where the root of the problem might be. If you're not a rabid baseball fan or faithful Nats fan, you don't find yourself hanging around the southeast waterfront area all too often. Also, the green line stop isn't called Nationals Park. It's called Navy Yard, which is what the area is for all intents and purposes. The area hasn't been established as a ballpark neighborhood yet due to the halted development of the residential and commercial space.

There isn't a lucrative amount of signage on the Metro rail system to denote that Nationals Park is, in fact, called Nationals Park. If the stop were to add the park's name to its signage, that might help conductors get the name right - but a change of that nature isn't cheap or easy.

For example, the red line Metro station in the Tenley Circle neighborhood was built with the intent of being called the Tenley Circle red line station. In February 1980, the Metro Board officially changed the station name to Tenleytown before opening the station in August 1984. Due to its proximity to American University, the Metro board then changed the station name to its current title of Tenleytown-AU. The cost of the name change set the District government back $63,500 that year.

Since Metro is in the financial red and the U.S. government continues to look for ways to cut spending, a change to the Navy Yard station name seems unlikely. Therefore, I urge all conductors to just memorize the name of the ballpark instead of needing a visual reminder via the Metro rail map.

Here it is, I'll spell it out: the Washington Nationals play at Nationals Park. The park is located along the southeast waterfront near the Navy Yard green line Metro station. It is not Nationals Stadium. It is not Nationals Field. It is not anything else besides Nationals Park, home of the national pastime in the nation's capital.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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