Over capacity with room to spare

When is a sellout not a sellout?

How about Saturday night, when the nationally televised Orioles-Nationals game drew 42,331 to Nationals Park? Despite exceeding the stadium’s listed capacity of 41,487 (see page 122 of the team’s 2012 media guide), the throng that saw the middle game of the first “Battle of the Beltways” inteleague series this season won’t go down in the record books as a sellout.

No, your grasp of basic mathematics hasn’t failed you. I can assure you that 42,331 is still more than 41,487. So where’s the disconnect that deprived the Nats of their first sellout of 2012?

A Nationals spokesman said late in the game that he couldn’t explain the discrepancy, and was seeking a clarification. Later, spokesman John Dever wrote in an email that a limited number of suite tickets and premium seats went unsold.

But one possible explanation could be the large number of standing room tickets that were sold for the game. Crowds in the standing room sections were several rows deep, especially in the outfield seating - er, standing - areas. Meanwhile, there were several sections in the 400 level where blue seats were unoccupied.

Dever said the standing room tickets “took us beyond the capacity. But really, those aren’t ‘included’ in the capacity.”

Saturday’s crowd, however, was the largest of the season at home for the Nationals, surpassing the 40,907 who showed up for the April 12 home opener against the Reds.

A quick check of the Nationals’ attendance records shows it was the second-largest crowd to ever witness a game at Nationals Park. Only the 44,685 that attended the Aug. 20, 2011 game against the Phillies was larger.

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