#OnePursuit: Your Guide to the Washington Nationals' Opening Day

Baseball's back! The Washington Nationals are gearing up for Opening Day on Thursday, and we've got everything you need to know to take yourself out to the ballgame.

The Nats will face off against the New York Mets; first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Read on for a heads-up on weather, the newest food and drinks, a new backpack policy and more.

Will you need to lug an umbrella with you?

Good news: You'll have a perfect spring afternoon for Opening Day. Anticipate temps in the low 60s with all sunshine, Storm Team4 Meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said. Make sure to grab your sunscreen. 

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When should you get there?

The Center Field Gate will open two hours before the game, granting access to the Center Field stands and the Center Field concourse area. On Thursdays, Fridays and weekends, so does the Budweiser Terrace area. That means you can enter as early as 11:05 a.m. on Opening Day. All other gates will open an hour and a half hour before first pitch. 

Who's the starting pitcher?

Max Scherzer will be starting off the day for the Nats, the team says.

"Scherzer earns his fourth Opening Day assignment in five seasons in D.C. to face the Mets' Jacob deGrom, a meeting between the top two finishers in voting for last year's NL Cy Young Award," the Nats say. 

Washington Nationals Baseball Club
Opening Day 2018, courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club

Will there be giveaways?

Yes! The first 25,000 fans will receive a 2019 schedule T-shirt on Opening Day.

Other freebies this season will include a Juan Soto bobblehead (April 12), an expandable beach bag (May 2), and a MARVEL Super Hero Day featuring a Captain Zimmerman Bobblehead (May 25). Check out the Nats' promotional days for the rest of the season online here.

Special events this season will include Military Appreciation Day (April 2), Jackie Robinson & Black Heritage Day (April 16), Fireworks Fridays (multiple dates) and Pups in the Park (multiple dates).

What's there to eat in the stadium?

Options range from the Gluten Free Grill to Haute Dogs & Fries, See. You. Tater and outposts of Ben's Chili Bowl and Shake Shack, as well as Breyers Ice Cream and Dippin' Dots. See a full list of concessions here.

Fans can order food right from their seats using the Caviar app.

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What should you know about security? What should you leave at home?

Everyone attending the game must go through metal detectors or get checked with a handheld metal detector. Either way, make sure you give yourself enough time to get through the line.

Security agents will check your bags, so try to pack light or bring a smaller bag. Bags can't be any larger than 16x16x8 inches, which is about the size of a tote bag.

As of 2019, backpacks may no longer be brought into Nats Park, except as otherwise allowed according to the Nationals Bag Policy. (Note: Those with diaper bags or bags used for ADA/medical reasons that are backpacks may be granted exceptions. Season plan holders may request exceptions at all season-plan-holder gates. Those who don't have season plans may request exceptions at the family/ADA lanes at the Center Field Gate and Home Plate Gate.)

Also new in 2019, the Nats have partnered with a local company, Binbox, to provide up to 1000 backpack storage lockers around the perimeter of the ballpark. The service charged a nominal fee for the lockers.

See a complete list of permitted bags and details about the new Binbox storage option, available for a small fee, online here.

Metal, plastic and glass containers are not allowed in the park. You may bring in one water bottle. Only collapsible umbrella are allowed in the park. Hard coolers and ice chests are also prohibited. See more prohibited items here.

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What's the best way to get there?

You've got a lot of options:

Take Metro: Riding the Green line to the Navy Yard station is usually an easy bet (if somewhat crowded on game days). The station is just half a block from Nats Park, but you might want to use alternate stations such as Waterfront or Capitol South to avoid crowds.

The Waterfront station is on the Green Line, and it's less than a mile from Nats Park. The Capitol South station on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines, located exactly one mile from the park.

Take a bus: Several Metrobus routes serve the ballpark: the 74, P6, V1, V4, A9 and W9 lines, according to WMATA's website. You can use WMATA's trip planner here.

Take a fancier bus: If Metrobus is not your top pick, consider the D.C. Circulator, which is often less crowded than the Metro and is now free for all riders. The Union Station-Navy Yard route runs every 10 minutes to and from Union Station (Metro's Red Line). It also stops at the Eastern Market station (Blue, Orange and Silver lines) on the way to Nats Park; see a map of the complete route here.

Ride a bike: If you're a cyclist — or you've always wanted to be — ride your bike. You can use the free bike valet service in Garage C at the corner of N & 1st streets SE. The valet is on N Street just left of the entrance. You'll also find 250 bike racks around the exterior of the park.

You can also rent a bike. There are quite a few Capital Bikeshare stations near the ballpark, including:

  • 1st and N streets SE
  • 1st and M streets SE
  • M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE
  • 3rd and Tingey streets SE
  • King Greenleaf Rec Center
  • 4th and M streets SE

D.C.'s dockless bike rentals and scooters are another option — check out the sites or apps for Lime Bike and Lime-S, Jump, Spin and Bird.

Take a taxi, Uber or Lyft: Taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft are other options. After the game, you can find the taxi pickup area on the north side of M Street SE, between S. Capitol and Half streets SE. Ballpark-goers using ride-hailing apps are asked not to be picked up or dropped off on S. Capitol Street. "This is a busy highway, and stopping there is dangerous," the Nats Park website warns.

Take a water taxi: The Potomac Riverboat Company offers water taxi service from Old Town Alexandria to the Diamond Teague Park Pier across from Nats Park. See pricing and schedules here. 

Last but not least, you can drive ... if you really have to: You'll likely pay more than $30 for parking, may end up walking a moderate distance anyway (because you can save a few bucks the farther out you park) and may get stuck in traffic — but if you have to drive, it's an option. There are parking lots around the stadium. The website for Nats Park advises booking your parking in advance.

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