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Artwork Completes the Softer Side of the Nationals Stadium

The future home of the Washington Nationals is now a skeleton of steel and concrete in a pit of dust — a welcome sight to avid sports fans excited about its expected completion in time for the 2008 season. But city officials want their beloved baseball team’s new stadium to also have a softer, and more sophisticated, side.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has budgeted $200,000 for a suspended art installation along the main concourse of the stadium, in addition to several other art projects already commissioned for the building.

The artwork should celebrate the “spirit of our national pastime,” and also should be “durable, safe, weather resistant, and require minimal maintenance,” according to a press release asking for artists’ submissions. Other art pieces in the stadium will include garage enhancements and bronze figures in the Baseball Plaza.

City officials tout the stadium, which sits in Southeast Washington along the Anacostia River, as the centerpiece for a thriving district of shops, restaurants and condominiums. Developments for Half Street Southeast alone include a 200-room hotel, a 275,000-square-foot office building and a 350-unit residential complex with retail on the ground floor.

The arts commission hopes to add to that atmosphere with the suspended installation, which will be visible from street level. The piece is scheduled to be installed in August 2008 and artists must submit the first application by 5 p.m. June 18. The commission is looking for artists with experience in creating site-specific art pieces.

Artwork is just another piece in a stadium designed to be state-of-the-art: The concourse will have glass walls so patrons can see the field while ordering a hot dog; environmentally friendly filters will separate peanut shells from the storm water that drains into the river; and a 1,300-seat diamond club will include indoor dining.