The Verizon Center was constructed in 1997 to the tune of $260 million as a much-needed replacement for the severely antiquated Capital Centre where the Capitals had played since joining the NHL in 1974. The then-named MCI Center moved the Capitals from Landover, Maryland to the corner of 7th and F Street in the heart of the city they represent. A veritable plethora of food and drink options, passionate fans, and cutting edge technology all combine to make the Verizon Center an ideal place to watch a hockey game.
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The Verizon Center is absolutely loaded with food and drink options. Located just off the main concourse is the Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille. The Greene Turtle offers the typical sports bar and grille fare and is a favorite hangout spot for Caps fans before, during, and after the game as it is attached to the Verizon Center and can be accessed from the main concourse. Did I mention that this place also has 17 different brands of beer on tap?
Now on to the arena itself: The 100 level concourse (main concourse) is where you will find the majority of the concession stands. They have the quintessential stadium fare such as the hot dog ($5), chili cheese dog ($7), soft pretzel/peanuts ($5), and nachos ($7). For those of you looking for a bit more variety, stop by the Hard Times Café, a local chain and fan favorite serving up chili, wings, nachos, hot dogs, and beer. Prices here range from $5 for an all beef hot dog to $11 for Hard Times Wings. My Oh! Spot is a small stand offering healthy options such as a Free Range Chicken Caesar Salad or wrap for $13 and the Sustainable Tuna Salad Wrap for $12.
Other options include Xtreme Nachos, the Sandwich District, Papa Johns, Sausage and Brews, Sweet Treats (ice cream), the Power Grille, and a hand carved turkey sandwich stand.
If it is more than mere concessions you are craving, head on up to the 200 level, home to the Acela Club, Captain Morgan Party Pavilion, and the BBQ Pit. One does not need any kind of special ticket to access the 200 level or the BBQ Pit. However, to gain access to the Acela Club behind sections 221-224, or Captain Morgan Party Pavilion behind sections 205-204, you will need a special pass or ticket that can be purchased before the game.
A pass for the Acela Club costs $15 and does not include a seat to the game. What it does get you, is access to the Acela Club itself where you can choose between the Chef's Table, a gourmet buffet that will cost you $40, or sit down and order from the traditional menu which will cost you anywhere from $15-$30 per entree.
The 300 level has nothing special. Popcorn, hot dogs, peanuts, and beer are about all you will find up here. There are plenty of places to eat within walking distance of the Verizon Center, but I will get to that later. If your seat is on the 300 level, then grab your food before you head to your seat.
Capitals fans flock to the Verizon Center and sell it out nearly every game. Whether it's the Hurricanes or the Rangers, the Capitals fans are there in full, drunken voice "Rocking the Red" as they say in DC.
The overall construction of the arena also adds to the ambiance as every seat provides an excellent view of the action. The atmosphere here is just what one might expect at a professional hockey game. It's boisterous and loud, very loud.
Just before the Capitals take the ice, the lights go out and suspenseful music pulsates through the PA system while the giant video boards above the ice flash pictures of DC and highlights of Capitals games gone by. All of this comes to a head when the red lights come on, the foghorn blows, and the stadium rocks with the sound of 18,000+ chanting, "Rock the Red!" The fans are rowdy, the food is good, and the action is fast-paced. What more could a hockey fan ask for?
Located at the edge of Chinatown in the heart of the nation's Capital, the surrounding area has something for everyone. Attached to the Verizon Center is the Gallery Place; a three-story plaza complete with a movie theater, bowling alley, Häagen-Dazs, Sushi Go-Round, Thai Chili, Zengo, Bar Louie, and Clyde's of Gallery Place.
Zengo is a gourmet restaurant serving up a fusion of Spanish and Asian-inspired dishes. If you, and your wallet, are into fine dining, have a go at Zengo.
Bar Louie is a modern style bar and lounge on the ground floor serving up martinis, cocktails, margaritas, mojitos, wine, and a wide selection of beer. Clyde's is a two-story, Grand Victorian saloon (classy pub) featuring four bars, five dining rooms, a raw bar, and multiple pieces of artwork on the walls. From the outside, and inside, Clyde's looks expensive, but in actuality is very affordable with most of the menu falling in the $10-$17 price range.
Right across the street (6th St. to be exact) is a Japanese soup restaurant called Daikaya. If you like soup, this is the place to be. I suggest going before the game, as this place is a local favorite and tends to get crowded. Other places of note are Wok and Roll Restaurant, an inexpensive place with a Chinese and Japanese menu, Royal Thai Cuisine and Bar, Fadò Irish Pub, and Tony Cheng's Seafood Restaurant & Mongolian Barbecue.
On the other side of the Verizon Center (7th St.) is the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and Portraiture, which is definitely worth checking out; especially considering admission is free. Other attractions in the area include the International Spy Museum (not free), and the National Building Museum. Being that there is a Metro stop at the stadium, all of DC (barring Old Town) is easily accessible.
Capitals fans are loud and loyal. Perhaps it is because for a few years the Capitals were the only decent sports team in DC, or perhaps it is the alcohol that entices the loyalty of the Capital District. Whatever the reason, they keep coming and selling out Verizon Center, or at least coming close to selling it out. The fans here make the experience worthwhile.
The opponent, time, and or day of the week seem to have little effect on the Capitals fans that turn out in droves whenever the Capitals are playing. Yes, many of them drink more than they should and you can expect to hear a good amount of swearing, especially if the Capitals lose or you happen to be wearing the opposing team's jersey. Most are good-natured, so long as you can take a metaphorical punch or three.
The Gallery Place Metro Stop is quite literally underneath the Verizon Center and lets you out on the 7th Street side. If you get the chance, take the Metro into the stadium with the raucous fans singing and chanting all the way from the train to post-game. The arena itself has no official parking lots, but there are plenty in the area if you chose to drive in. Most garages in DC will run you about $20 for the day and $25 for event parking (i.e. Capitals games). However, if you arrive early enough, you can beat the game day pricing and only pay $20.
Traffic in DC can be tedious at times, but is usually not that bad compared to places like New York, Baltimore, and Atlanta. Also, F Street in front of the Verizon Center is closed off to motorized traffic after the game.
The only thing this place is lacking is a championship and helpful ushers. With the exception of one usher, they all seem to hate you and make it perfectly clear that they do not want to be there. As to a championship, the Bullets won an NBA title back in 1978, but that was nine years before the construction of the Verizon Center.
Aside from this detail, nearly everything else here is perfect. There are shops of all sorts and restaurants of all types within easy walking distance of the Verizon Center, not to mention the museums, fancy hotels (Hotel Monaco), and the Metro, which gives you easy access to the important parts of DC.
The programs are free and fold out into a small poster of a random Capitals player. There is food and beer galore and there are no obstructed/limited view seats. Even the standing room section provides a great view of the action. The fantastic light show, PA system, and massive scoreboard are also worth mentioning.
Washington DC's Verizon Center is home to the NHL's Capitals, NBA's Wizards, WNBA's Mystics and Georgetown University men's basketball. Built in 1997, it was the start of the revitalization of DC's Chinatown. It is largely responsible for the area being one of the hottest spots in the city. In a word: phenomenal.
Tourists can park for free for 24 hours in Alexandria and from there you can take the Metro station to the arena. Beats the stress of driving in downtown Washington.
Standing directly above the Gallery/Chinatown Metro station in downtown DC, the Verizon Center was opened in 1997 to replace the US Air Arena that was located in suburban Landover. Originally known as the MCI Center, it was renamed when Verizon bought MCI in 2006, and is known as the "Phone Booth" by locals. The box office is inside the F Street entrance where there is an exhibit called "A Ticket To History" that has a few historical pictures from the area. It's not sports-related but worth checking out.
The Capitals have a variable pricing scheme with Red the cheapest games. The other categories (White, Blue, Gold) are $15 more expensive each step up the ladder. So a $40 seat for a crap game is $85 when the Penguins come to town. Check out the schedule before going so you know what the true price of tickets is.
I inquired at the box office and the cheapest available ticket was $50 for a second row seat in the upper deck behind the net. Interestingly, the upper corners are actually slightly less expensive, which is the first time I have seen this; it's smart as the seats directly behind the net are generally better than those in the corners.
Once inside, I did the requisite tour and saw very little to mention. There were no historical displays or sections. This was not surprising; downtown venues often have space limitations and seats are more important than museums. The arena has three seating levels, with the club seats taking up the 200 level which pushes the 400 level a bit further away. Still I found the view from the front rows in the upper bowl to be adequate.
There are 4 retired numbers for the Capitals and a number of Bullets' banners. The Georgetown Hoyas also have one banner commemorating their final four appearances. There used to be attendance banners for the WNBA Mystics but those were removed earlier this year after being the target of much derision.
With 100% of vendors having serious violations of the health code in that ESPN study released in 2010, I wasn't going to eat here. I didn't see anything remotely appetizing anyway, although there is a designated driver booth where you can get a free soft drink.
The scoreboard is nice and relatively new, having been installed in 2007. They show replays almost immediately, often while play is still going on, which can be bothersome as you are trying to watch the live action but want to check out the replay of that great save too. There are out-of-town scoreboards at each corner of the arena.
What I liked best was the fans. Nearly everyone was wearing red jerseys and it looked pretty cool. It might be the best example of the benefits of having the home team wear dark colours. The fans were loud and knowledgeable, but unfortunately they had little to cheer about as the Capitals were shutout in the game I saw, which hurt the atmosphere quite a bit. Overall, there's nothing wrong here, but nothing special either.
since 2007, after the caps hired bruce boudreau, pretty much everything has gone up. Ive been going to games since 1998 and it has been the best ever that I can remember. I find it odd that they renovated in 2007, yet the markers with the caps/wizards logo on the seats has not changed. the fans make this arena better and hopefully, the caps can bring home a championship and make the arena explode.
714 7th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
781 Seventh St NW
Washington, DC 20001
701 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
707 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
1000 Jefferson Dr SW
Washington, DC 20004
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