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The Washington Nationals, in partnership with Live Nation, announced on Thursday in a press conference at Nats Park that Grammy-winner Billy Joel will perform at the stadium on July 26. After headlining the first ever concert at the venue in 2009, Joel is back for another summer stop.
The event was announced just 24 hours prior and featured Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, as well as D.C.’s deputy mayor Victor Hoskins. The Billy Joel part was kept as a surprise for a full day before Hoskins revealed the news.
Rizzo was in attendance to represent the team, but also as a fan of Joel. He made a brief speech on stage after Hoskins spoke.
Here is what he said:
I’m just so excited to have Billy Joel back at Nationals Park. Not only is he a Hall of Fame-caliber entertainer, I just like the fact that he’s a very attractive bald man with a goatee. We gotta stick together.
The self-deprecating humor from the team architect went over well with the crowd, and how about him calling Joel 'Hall of Fame-caliber?' Spoken like a true GM.
Rizzo continued to talk about the new season, which technically begins in mere weeks when pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 13:
The Billy Joel concert is just another example of the crazy excitement that’s happening here at Nationals Park. Not only with the entertainment we bring in here several times during the season, but don’t forget there’s a 2014 Washington Nationals baseball team that plays out there every day. It’s must-see viewing. Make sure the word gets out to get your tickets, it’s going to be the place to be. We are certainly looking forward to seeing the great entertainer, Billy Joel, here at Nationals Park.
Rizzo was not made available for questions after, but we should catch up with him this weekend at NatsFest.
(Here's Mike Rizzo admitting he sees a resemblance with Billy Joel)
As for Hoskins, he spoke fondly of the Nationals’ place in the community and how Nats Park has helped the surrounding neighborhood in Southeast Washington.
When The District decided to invest in Nationals Park, the plan was for this venue to bring life into this un-utilized part of the city. In less than five years Nationals Park has become a powerful economic engine that drives tourism and baseball fans from throughout the region.
Hoskins, perhaps cognizant of the city’s current standing in professional sports, expressed pride in the Nationals as a representative of Washington, D.C.
Nationals Park has also given this city its sports identity back. Just two years ago when the young team was in a pennant race, people from across the region flocked to Nationals Park to experience the excitement. It was exactly the type of excitement and transformation the city wanted when it built Nationals Park.
Traveling to the stadium on Thursday was a bit different given the temperature outside was about 20 degrees. There were several inches of snow on the ground, providing a unique glimpse at the field which usually presents a vibrant green during the summer:
The Nationals will return to Washington on March 29 to play an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers. Then, on April 4, they’ll host the Atlanta Braves in their 2014 home opener. It’s hard to imagine while looking at a snowy ballpark, but baseball will be back in town in just over two months.