Washington Nationals Team History
Without a viable owner willing to operate the team in Montreal, it was widely thought that the sale of the Expos to MLB was the first step in the process of either moving the team or folding it altogether. Although their attendance increased from 7,935 per game in 2001 to 10,031 in 2002, MLB decided that the Expos would play 22 of their home games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2003. Although the approximately 19,000-seat stadium was considerably smaller than Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, attendance in San Juan averaged 14,222, compared with 12,081 in Montreal.
On September 29, 2004, MLB announced that the Expos would move to Washington, D.C. in 2005. The Expos played their final game on October 3 at Shea Stadium, losing by a score of 8–1 against the New York Mets, the same opponent that the Expos first faced at its start, 35 years earlier. On November 15, a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Jeffrey Loria was struck down by arbitrators, bringing to an end all legal actions that would impede a move. The owners of the other MLB teams approved the move to Washington in a 28–1 vote on December 3, Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos cast the sole dissenting vote. Later that night, the Expos played their last game in Montreal, a 9–1 loss to the Florida Marlins before a season-high crowd of 31,395 fans. Although the team had worried about fan reaction, there were only a couple of incidents with objects thrown on the field. To commemorate their unfinished 1994 season, the Expos unfurled a banner reading “1994 Meilleure Équipe du Baseball / Best Team in Baseball.” The fans gave standing ovations to team stars Tony Batista, Brad Wilkerson, and Liván Hernández, and applauded loudly up until the final out. After the game, thanks were given to the crowd by Claude Raymond in French, Jamey Carroll in English, and Hernandez in Spanish.
Finally, on March 5, Major League Baseball signed a lease for a new ballpark, agreeing to the city’s $611 million cap. MLB also agreed to contribute $20 million toward the cost of the stadium, although it did not agree to cover stadium overruns. Further, MLB added the condition that excess ballpark tax revenue earmarked for debt service for the bonds be available for cost overruns. Two days later, on March 7 the DC City Council, by a vote of 9–4, approved a construction contract for a state-of-the-art stadium with a contemporary glass-and-stone facade, seats for 41,000 fans and a view of the U.S. Capitol, and affirmed its demand that public spending on the project be limited to $611 million. The votes were the final actions needed to satisfy the terms of the deal struck in September 2004, paving the way for the sale of the team. Nationals Park is a baseball park located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It is the home ballpark for the Washington Nationals, the city’s Major League Baseball franchise. When the Nationals franchise relocated to Washington, D.C., they temporarily played at RFK Stadium until Nationals Park was completed. It is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States. The facility hosted the 2008 season’s first game (in North America), when the Nationals hosted the Atlanta Braves on March 30, 2008.
When Ted Lerner took over the club in mid-2006, he hired Stan Kasten as team president. Kasten was widely known as the architect of the Atlanta Braves before and during their run of 14 division titles. Kasten was also the general manager or president of many other Atlanta-area sports teams, including the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers. “The Plan”, as it became known, was a long-range rebuilding and restructuring of the team from the ground up. This plan included investing in the farm system and the draft, and having a suitable team to go along with their new stadium.
The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. From 2005 to 2007, the team played in RFK Stadium; since 2008 their home stadium has been Nationals Park on South Capitol Street in Southeast D.C., near the Anacostia River.
Montreal – Washington D.C.
2000 – Present Major League Baseball
1969 – 1999 National League
Nationals – Washington’s original baseball team was interchangeably referred to as the Senators and Nationals, or Nats for short, for most of its time in the District before relocating to Minnesota in 1960. Washington’s 1961 expansion franchise was known almost exclusively as the Senators until it moved to Texas after the 1971 season. When the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital in 2005, the team revived the “Nationals” nickname.
2005 – Present Washington Nationals
1969 – 2004 Montreal Expos
World Series 0
2008 – Present Nationals Park
2005 – 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
1977 – 2004 Olympic Stadium
1969 – 1976 Jarry Park Stadium
2006 – Present Theodore N. Lerner
2002 – 2006 Major League Baseball
1999 – 2002 Jeffrey Loria
1991 – 1999 Claude Brochu
1969 – 1991 Charles Bronfman
42 Jackie Robinson
2005 – Present Screech
*Blue is this team’s history