I had the pleasure of attending a Washington Nationals game recently. I’ve been a fan since before they arrived in DC, as I had the good fortune to work with Washington, DC’s bid group in “luring” the Expos from Montreal. The team has come a long way since their days in RFK. And at the particular game I attended—my first of the 2018 season—I was happy to see a new face among all the Nationals. Not Soto in the outfield or Reynolds at the plate or Martinez in the dugout—although it has been great watching them play and manage—but Gotham, up on the scoreboard. Yes, Gotham… the National’s new typeface.
As of this season, Gotham replaces Trade Gothic—the scoreboard typeface since Nationals Park opened in 2008—on the scoreboard and in their marketing materials. According to an interview Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer Valerie Camillo gave to the Washington Post, the change was made because Gotham, “was modern, it was clean and very versatile.”
Gotham is a wise choice. It’s a typeface that’s engineered more than it is designed, stripped of any superfluous elements and created specifically for a hard-working, no-nonsense, modern image. A great reflection of the day-in, day-out of a 162-game season, the grit of the men who play the game, and the directness of the data behind today’s sabermetrics.
Trade Gothic on the Nationals Park scoreboard in 2015. (Brad Mills / USA Today Sports)
Gotham on the Nationals Park scoreboard in 2018.
Gotham can also be easier to read at a distance, thanks to its reasonably high x-height (the designation used for the height of lowercase letters) and wide apertures (the negative spaces or holes in some letters, like o or n). It is extremely flexible, includes a number of widths and weights, and, appropriately for a scoreboard, Gotham also features a complimentary numeric style range (numbers).
At Hager Sharp, we use Gotham as a typeface for a client with similar characteristics: the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The clarity and transparency that Gotham evokes is ideal for this data-driven institution, the Elias Sports Bureau of national education statistics. We use it in the signage for NCES’s conference booths, in short brochures with minimal text, and online.
Want to know more? The history of Gotham is quite interesting and can be found on the website of Hoefler & Co, the type foundry GQ magazine commissioned to create the typeface back in 2000.
Executive Creative Director