The Washington Nationals’ controversial plan to ban backpacks for the 2019 season was already met with anger from fans. The team somehow managed to make the issue worse Wednesday, announcing fans could pay a fee to store their backpacks in lockers at the park, according to the Washington Post.
A company called Binbox will install 500 medium to large lockers at the right field and home plate gates where Nationals fans can store their backpacks for either $2 or $3 per hour depending on which locker size the fan needs. Those prices will cap at $10 and $15 during games.
Fans will also be encouraged to download an app and pay for lockers using Stripe, according to the Washington Post.
Fans are encouraged to download the Binbox mobile app, which is available through the App Store and Google Play. The app may be used to lock and unlock the lockers, eliminating the need to wait in line for assistance from a Binbox staffer. Payment will be processed through the app via Stripe, though Flynn said his company is exploring adding Apple Pay and PayPal as payment options. Lockers will be available two hours before the scheduled first pitch until 90 minutes after the game. Reserving lockers is not an option.
The Nationals will give out free replacement drawstring bags before opening day on a first-come, first-served basis. The team will also give out the bags at an exhibition game March 25.
The team decided to revise its bag policy due to security reasons. The updated bag policy is unclear on whether the Nationals will make exceptions for diaper bags or bags used for medical reasons, saying the team “may” allow those without going into detail.
The Washington Post mentions the team “will not make money off the locker rentals.” There’s no mention of whether Binbox paid the team to install the lockers right outside the park.
The decision to ban backpacks was met with resistance from fans who go to Nationals games straight from work. The new policy is also restrictive to kids trying to attend games after school, or larger families who want to experience a game with their young children.
The move also further prices out families who are already struggling to afford Nationals games. Nationals tickets can be purchased for under $20, but that doesn’t include parking fees. If you want to go through the Nationals, the cheapest parking option available is $25, and it puts you 0.8 miles away from the park. Parking in the closest lot to the park will cost fans $50.
Nationals fans can take public transportation like the Metro to games, though that may not be convenient for some. The team has also battled with Metro over the cost of keeping trains running during late games. That has led to plenty of Nationals fans leaving the park early and missing the end of some games so they wouldn’t have to find a different way home.
Despite fan outcry, the Nationals haven’t altered their stance on backpacks throughout the offseason. By doubling down on the policy and charging fans more money, the team could risk turning away a significant portion of its most passionate fans.
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