It might as well be used for something ...
Nationals Park may be closed (sorry, baseball fans!) but with the election coming up, the team wants citizens to be able to practice their civic duty safely, which makes their recent decision particularly brilliant: repurposing the park as a polling site!
This November, D.C. residents can cast their ballot at Nationals Park for the presidential election. The park is working with the D.C. Board of Elections, who initially broke the news to WAMU. According to election officials, the park will be open for early voting and same-day voting. Residents will also receive absentee ballots automatically.
The stadium joins other public facilities, including Capital One Arena, the Washington Hilton, and Omni Shoreham in providing their services for the public good of voting.
In a statement Monday, managing principal owner Mark Lerner emphasized the team's efforts in easing the burdens felt by many due to the pandemic, specifically regarding the ability to vote.
“Nationals Park is a civic asset and the Nationals will always work to ensure that it can be utilized in service to the community in as many ways as possible,” Lerner said.
It's not the first time Nationals Park has served the community. Earlier this year, the stadium housed Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen to provide hot meals to residents in need, and their charitable organization Nationals Philanthropies regularly gives back through grants and fundraising. Their most recent endeavor is The NATS4GOOD Community Response Fund in response to COVID-19.
Because of virus concerns, the District will keep a fraction of its polling sites open for the upcoming election, 80 out of 144 total. Mayor Muriel Bowser objected to the move, wanting to keep most of the polling places open. Election officials' reasoning is to scale back the number of places in exchange for larger facilities that make it easier for voters to practice social distancing. The decision also takes into account the possibility of fewer poll workers as high-risk citizens stay home.
The stadium is located in Navy Yard, which residents can access via car and public transportation options including Metro, Metro Bus, and water taxi. Not sure where to vote? You can find your polling place here.
D.C. residents, what do you think? Should other facilities serve as polling sites for the election? Tell us in the comments!