When a group of three Loudouners started BallPark Bus this spring, the ride ahead was anything but certain.
It soon became clear that the service — which took residents, families, coworkers and other groups from Washington, D.C. suburbs to Nationals Park and back for $18 a seat — was taking off, ferrying hundreds of customers to see ball games without the stress of traffic and parking.
This week, the company is expanding its service to Redskins games, offering rides between Clyde's Willow Creek Farm in Ashburn and FedEx Field for $29 a seat.
“We want to become synonymous with big area events in the minds of Loudoun County residents,” said Brian Bowman, a Brambleton resident and the company's director of marketing. “Getting to the game no longer has to be a hassle. In fact, it can be half the fun.”
The way it works is similar to how fans booked tickets throughout baseball season: Reservations are only made online, and 18 seats must be sold before a bus trip is confirmed, the company said.
Any cancellations are made 48 hours before game time; payments aren't processed unless the bus actually leaves for the game.
During baseball season, the company had five departure points across Northern Virginia, including Clyde's and at restaurants from Centreville to Ballston.
For now, the only departure point for Redskins games is Ashburn. Buses will leave Clyde's three and a half hours before every Redskins home game, getting fans to the stadium two hours before kickoff. (Plenty of time, the company notes, to set up a tailgate — there's space for chairs, big coolers and tables underneath the bus, and small coolers are allowed on board.)
Bus tickets are still available for the Sept. 23 game against the Bengals. (All fans must buy their own game tickets through the Redskins). Single and group packages are available.
The company plans to rely on good customer service and social media "word of mouth" to see the same kind of success it saw during baseball season, and beyond: Bowman said the company recently sold out buses to the Bruce Springsteen concert and the West Virginia vs JMU game.
"Our passengers really take it upon themselves to spread the word through tools like Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and simple word of mouth,” Jason Watlington, director of operations, said in a statement. “This model ensures that we stay in business."
Other destinations this fall include the Sept. 29 Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati game at FedEx Field, Nationals playoff Games and the Zac Brown Band concert Oct. 12 at Jiffy Lube Live.
"Things appear to be moving to the next level," Bowman said in an email to Patch.
To learn more, visit www.BallparkBus.com.