Nationals cite “security” to force fans to pay for bag checks and lockers

The Washington Nationals have become one of the few MLB teams to ban bringing backpacks in their stadium, apparently because D.C. has special dangers that require special security theater measures, and also because they can’t figure out how to do a bag search like every other stadium everywhere. But never fear! The Nats will also be offering storage lockers for your verboten bags, at the low, low price of $2 an hour:

Medium lockers (10-by-15-by-22 inches) will be available for $2 per hour, charged in six-minute increments. Large lockers (15-by-15-by-22) will be available for $3 an hour. Binbox’s rental fees will be capped at $10 and $15, respectively, each game. The Nationals will not make money off the locker rentals…

Lockers will be available two hours before the scheduled first pitch until 90 minutes after the game. Reserving lockers is not an option, and every bag will be inspected by a third-party security staffer before being placed in a locker.

Okay, so apparently they can figure out how to do a bag search — so long as it’s by a third-party security officer who is paid by your bag fees.

This is stupid on a great many levels: briefcases and other items capable of carrying contraband are still allowed; security experts point out that creating long security lines outside just creates easier targets for any potential terrorists; the Nats will be giving out drawstring bags, so if you’re really in a pinch it should be straightforward enough to empty the contents of your backpack into one of those, then roll up your backpack and put it in as well. But it’s not stupid on the level of making fans pay the cost of something — bag searches — that normally the team would cover, which is indeed a remarkable innovation. I can’t wait for the first team to announce that all fans who aren’t season ticket holders need to visit the privately run ticket scanning security check station, or that if you want to throw out your garbage at the game, you need to buy access to the waste disposal lounge. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, Nats fans are really mad, and my guess is it will eventually quietly go away when mass chaos results and nobody can get to their seats (and more important, begin buying hot dogs) until the third inning. Or maybe the Nats will offer fans a way to subscribe to a service that lets them bring in backpacks without being checked based on their fingerprints proving that they’re good people. The possibilities are endless!

8 comments on “Nationals cite “security” to force fans to pay for bag checks and lockers

  1. There are a certain number of fans who bring over sized bags into the ballpark where there is insufficient room to store the bags in the seating area. Creating a reasonable size limit was a good idea whether it addresses a security risk or not.

    • They did *not* create a size limit — MLB rules already prohibit bags over 16″x16″x8″. What the Nationals did was to ban all backpacks of any size, full stop.

      • Which makes little sense in a town where everyone is Metro’ing to the game after work. It’s like they almost don’t want people to attend the games.

        The United had something similar across the street and were finally forced to back down once it became apparent how unworkable it was.

  2. The Nationals can’t afford to pay for the storage lockers because of the $111 million they are paying this season to Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and Zimmerman.

    • But they saved some cash on Harper…
      This is all odd to someone old enough to remember when MLB cut rosters from 25 to 24 players as a cost saving measure (late 70s, iirc…)

      • They didn’t really save anything on Harper, the scuttlebutt is that the offer to Harper was heavily backloaded to the point of making him a modern day Bobby Bonita (and freaked out the MLB as well due to the backloading). The organization seems not to really have cash on hand.

      • I assume you mean Bonilla… as I recall his original contract was way less backend loaded but the Mets redid it to free up cash for other players… and did so in a way that is still costing them significant money today.

        The Nats sure did save money on Harper – by not signing him. They may spend the $30m or so annually they had allotted for Harper elsewhere in 2019, or they may just wait for another free agent year.

  3. With all due respect to the many dedicated Nats fans out there, I believe they are ignoring one important option that would save them a lot more than $2/hr….

    And if you absolutely have to attend a live baseball game anyway, there are other leagues and teams you could go watch. MLB does not own baseball. It only controls it’s own branded portion of it.