Phillies fans have long been known to travel up and down the East Coast to catch games at their rivals’ home stadiums. In particular, packs of Philadelphians often flock south to Nationals Park in Washington, sometimes making up a much larger portion of the crowd than Nationals fans themselves. Some Phillies enthusiasts have even begun calling the Nationals’ stadium “Citizens Bank Park South.”
Nats fans have never appreciated their notoriously raucous neighbors to the north filling the stands, so the franchise is taking action. On Friday morning, tickets went on sale for the Philadelphia vs. Washington three-game series in May. The catch? The tickets are available only to buyers who can prove a Washington, Maryland or Virginia address. Unless they have second homes in or around the nation’s capital, Phillies fans will be barred from buying tickets for at least one month during the exclusive pre-sale.
(MORE: The Agony and the (Rare) Ecstasy of the Philadelphia Sports Fan)
The attempt to keep Phillies loyalists at bay marks the Nationals’ “Take Back the Park” initiative, according to MLB.com. The campaign encourages Nationals fans to attend more games and, in theory, reclaim their territory, which often takes on a decidedly pro-Phillies atmosphere.
Within the MLB, the Nats are notorious for bleak attendance numbers. Last season they ranked 20th of all pro teams, with a total of 1.9 million attendees, compared to the Phillies, who ranked first with 3.6 million. And if the deliberate attempts to keep out Phillies fans persist, the Nats’ attendance will likely plummet further, ultimately driving down the franchise’s revenue. By next season, “Take Back the Park” could easily become “Give Back the Park.”