"It really is a thrill to have Billy back here in center field on that stage," said Catherine Silver, the Nats' vice president of ballpark enterprises and guest experience. "It does bring me back to our inaugural concert. It was one of the most unforgettable evenings for all of us who worked together to produce that first show. Billy absolutely lit up the crowd of 40,000 people who were on their feet all night long, and we can't believe he's chosen us to come back."
Tickets for the show will become available to the general public at 10 a.m. ET on Feb. 1, at nationals.com/billyjoel. American Express card members will be able to purchase tickets early, from Tuesday at 10 a.m. through Jan. 31 at 10 p.m. Nationals season-plan holders also may buy tickets early, beginning Jan. 30.
Joel is a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he has sold more than 150 million albums globally, making him the sixth-best-selling recording artist of all time and the third-best-selling solo artist.
Nationals Park already was set to host concerts by pop band One Direction and country star Jason Aldean this summer. Now it adds another headliner to the list in Joel, who also will play at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park in August.
"Just so excited to have Billy Joel back at Nationals Park," said Nats general manager Mike Rizzo, who shares a look with the performer. "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've got to stick together.
"The Billy Joel concert is just another example of the crazy excitement that's happening here at Nationals Park, not only with the entertainment that we bring in here several times during the season, but don't forget there's a 2014 Nationals baseball team that plays out there every day, and it's must-see viewing, so make sure the word gets out to get your tickets. It's going to be the place to be."
Victor Hoskins, Washington's deputy mayor for planning and economic development, represented the city at the news conference and lauded Nationals Park for its sports, as well as its role as a "powerful economic engine" helping to revitalize the city's Capitol Riverfront area.
"Nationals Park also has given the city its sports identity back. Just two years ago, when the team was in a pennant race, people from across the region flocked to Nationals Park to experience the excitement," Hoskins said, referring to the club's 2012 National League East title. "It was exactly the type of excitement and transformation the city wanted when it built Nationals Park. And the excitement isn't just about baseball. Nationals Park has gained a reputation as one of the premier locations for outdoor concert events because of the fan experience, access to transportation and the draw from the D.C. area."
The Nats have come a long way as a franchise since their ballpark opened in '08, but for at least one night this summer, fans might not mind a flashback to earlier days.
"There's nothing like sitting out under the stars on a summer evening in this beautiful stadium and seeing an incomparable performer like Billy Joel," Silver said. "So this is going to be an amazing summer with baseball and fantastic performances."