Vida Ali can’t stop smiling when talking about the District’s euphoria over the Washington Nationals hosting the World Series this weekend for the first time in franchise history.
It doesn’t hurt that the co-owner of Ben’s Chili’s Bowl will also benefit, with its business located at Nationals Park in Southeast.
“Energetically, there will be a lot more bars and places filled. Everyone in the city will benefit,” she said. “I see [smiling faces]. We are still like, ‘This is an amazing moment.’ We’re still on a high.”
Other businesses expect to flourish in the city with the anticipation of such a monumental sports event as the World Series, but some small and minority businesses and residents east of the Anacostia River wonder whether they will see any economic benefits.
Elliott Ferguson said that will “absolutely” happen with the city generating an estimated $6.5 million for two games against the Houston Astros. The Nationals will host the Astros in Games 3 and 4 Oct. 25-26 and, if necessary, Game 5 on Sunday, Oct. 27.
“It’s not just about who’s playing, but the fact that it’s the World Series,” said Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, a nonprofit organization that promotes and markets events in the nation’s capital. “People that are huge fans will come just because of that. It’s also the end of the baseball season, so it’s your last opportunity to really enjoy baseball.”
Destination DC on Tuesday handed out Nationals #FinishTheFight posters to riders at some Metro stations to boost fans’ excitement for the World Series in the hours before Game 1 of the series began in Houston.
For visitors to the D.C. area and baseball fans not able to watch the game at Nationals Park, the group provided a special page at https://washington.org/world-series. Some of Destination DCs more than 1,000 members are offering deals during the series.
For instance, several restaurants and bars will provide happy hour specials to celebrate the Nationals’ achievement. Ice Cream Jubilee, which has three locations — one near Nationals Park, another at 14th and T streets in Northwest and Arlington, Virginia — will offer a special “Nats Red Velvet” flavor through Monday, Oct. 28.
Theater lovers can catch the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson’s “Jitney” at the Arena Stage in Southwest through Sunday, while those who like to laugh can attend the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival Oct. 24-27 at various locations throughout the city, including performances Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast.
“We market all parts of Washington,” Ferguson said. “We are hoping when [Major League Baseball] comes in showing the game, [it will] showcase parts of our neighborhoods, our restaurants, our parts of the city that are extremely important to us as we market D.C. and all eight of the wards.”
Meanwhile, Ben’s will be a part of a friendly wager between D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Bowser is wagering half-smokes from Ben’s, Civic Vodka from Republic Restoratives and beer from DC Brau Brewing on a Nats victory, while Turner is putting up BBQ brisket and beer.
“Houston, you may have a problem,” Bowser tweeted Monday. “With our All-Star lineup, I’m certain we will #FinishTheFight. Now, I’m not only looking forward to a #WorldSeries title, but also to some of Houston’s best treats!”
The Nationals hope to keep the championship vibes going after the recent success of two other major pro sports teams in the city. Last year, thousands cheered on the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory, while the Washington Mystics won its first-ever WNBA title earlier this month.
“We got some good energy over here with the ladies bringing the hardware home to Washington, D.C.,” Ward 8 Councilman Trayon White Jr. said during an Oct. 11 rally at Entertainment and Sports Arena, the Mystics’ home stadium, the day after their win. “It’s all about morale. Once we feel and touch and know the players in the community, it allows people to believe, especially young ladies, that they can achieve anything.”