SBD/Issue 140/Franchises

Stan Kasten Encourages Phillies Fans To Support Their Team In DC

Kasten Says Philly Is Washington's Best,
Closest National League Rival
Nationals President Stan Kasten yesterday appeared on ESPN Radio 950 Philadelphia with hosts Jody Mac and Harry Mayes, and discussed attracting fans to next week's Phillies-Nationals series at Nationals Park. Kasten: "We'd love for all our Philly fans to come down because I know it’s going to be so hard to get tickets in Philadelphia this year. It’ll be much easier if you drive down the road and come see us in Washington." Kasten added, "Philly's our best, closest National League rival. We always have great games with them here, because there's so many Philly kids in college here. So we always have great, enthusiastic crowds, and we hope you all come back again." More Kasten: "You can come here early, we open two and three hours early, have a good time. ... I promise you, just coming to a ballgame will be more than worth the trip." Kasten added, "We want to see you here, and we would welcome your fans here. And I've got to tell you, I have gone to enough games in three different sports in Philly to tell you that I haven't always felt welcome in your parks, OK? But you can root for whoever you want, you will be welcome when you come to Nationals Park." Kasten also said the Nationals are "doing really well in our community ... but sooner or later we're going to need to win to really establish ourselves in the market" (ESPN Radio 950 Philadelphia, 4/7).

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote Kasten "turned the segment into an advertisement" for next week's series, and if you are representing DC sports, "you can't -- cannot -- open your arms wide in a fuzzy embrace of visiting Philly fans." DC sports fans "don't want anything approaching hostile conditions for visiting fans," but they "don't want their faces rubbed in these visiting invasions, either." The fans "don't want to be shamed." However, Steinberg noted there was "one moment of sanity" when Kasten said the "exact right thing." When Mac and Hayes were discussing what visiting fans could expect, Kasten said, "First of all, the aggravating thing for me is the last few years, the Philly games, it feels like a damn Philly home game" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote one of the "dirty little secrets in baseball is that sometimes fans with struggling attendance secretly reach out to neighboring teams with larger followings to help boost their turnstile count." But there are "quiet ways to do this," and Kasten's interview "isn't one of them." Having one of the Nationals' "most visible employees publicly court a rival seems about the quickest way to depress and discourage your existing fanbase" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/7).





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