Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Six Days and Counting Until Inaugural Match at New Kastles Stadium

In a little less than a week, the Washington Kastles will take to the court with Venus Williams against the Kansas City Explorers in their brand new stadium at The Wharf. Earlier today, the Kastles were kind enough to give me a tour of the stadium. It was a beautiful afternoon for a tour - sunny, low humidity and a bit of a breeze. Blue skies made for good photo-taking.

Seats on the north side of the stadium are higher to allow views of the Washington Channel.

The 2,570-seat facility took about a month to build and was dedicated by Mayor Gray and Billie Jean King earlier this month. The main entrance is located at 9th and Water Street and concessions are located on the north side of the stadium. There's a VIP area on the south side and the Kastles will offer season ticket holders transient boat slips at the Gangplank Marina - a luxury currently not available at any other tennis facility in the country. Tunnels connect the north and south sides so patrons have easier access to the concessions area, which is a new feature that did not exist at the downtown stadium.

Finishing touches, such as painting lines on the court, are now being done.

This tennis experience is a bit different than what you would find at the Legg Mason Classic. Live bands typically play before the match and the players come on the court to music. Crowds cheer throughout the match. There are a total of five sets per match - a women's single, a men's single, a women's double, a men's double, and a mixed double. For each match, gates open at 5:15pm and the first set begins at 7pm.  Matches typically last until 10 or 10:30pm. After each match, all fans 16 and under can get autographs from players on both teams.  

The Washington Monument is visible from the south section where table service will be available.

The Kastles will keep their stadium up year round for the next two years, unlike prior seasons when they were located downtown. During the off-season, the stadium will be used for other purposes, including a charity tournament in late July and will most likely host an event affiliated with the Cherry Blossom Festival. Eventually, the site of the stadium will become the home of Graduate School USA and a luxury hotel once The Wharf development gets underway and the stadium will need to move to a new location. The team wants to work with local youth at Amidon-Bowen Elementary and Jefferson Middle School - the dilapidated tennis courts on 7th Street by Jefferson will most likely get refurbished by the Kastles. In addition, the team is working with local restaurants to cross promote their activities and offer discounts.

Flat screen TVs have been installed near the front row on the north side of the stadium.

The season home schedule can be found here. Ticket prices range from $15 - $75 depending on the match. There are two seat types available - grandstand and chair back, with chair back seating costing more. Southwesters can get 10% off admission on July 15th for Chris Evert night by typing the code SWDC when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster. Garage parking is available for $15. The stadium is also accessible via Metro, Circulator, American River Taxi, and Capital Bikeshare.

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