Located just a half mile to the north of the National Mall and on the edge of Chinatown is DC’s best stadium, the Verizon Center. Completed in 1997, this multi-purpose arena gave the Capitals a new home in the heart of the city they represent. Prior to its construction, the Capitals had played in the severely antiquated MCI Center in Landover, Maryland.
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This place is loaded from top to bottom with every kind of manly food a hockey fan's heart could desire. There are burgers, sausages, hot dogs, nachos, chili, wings, liquor and beer: if you want it, they probably have it. There are even a few Chick-fil-A stands dotted around the upper and lower concourses. Did I mention that there are also three full service restaurants in the arena as well? Located behind section 116 is the Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille. If you want a place to hang out with fans of both teams before or after the game, the Greene Turtle is the place to be. If the Verizon Center gates aren't open when you arrive, don't worry, the Greene Turtle has an entrance on F Street. When you're finished with your meal, you can go through the back door and into the 100-level concourse.
If you are in the lower level and want something during the game, the concession stands have you covered. 100-level concessions include such local favorites as Hard Time's Chili, Hofman's Quality Meats, and Residence Pub. Hard Time's Chili is one of the few places left in the States that serves up the original chuck-wagon style chili. Hofman's Quality Meats is a somewhat-local chain based just north of the District in Maryland. Their menu includes such Maryland staples as the Crab Cake, Fish & Chips, and Shrimp or Fish Po' Boy. None of these are under $14. Other 100-level concourse concessions include The Sandwich District, X-Treme Nachos, and Sausage & Brews. I even found a hand-carved turkey sandwich stand. Up to the club level (200-level). It is here that the Verizon Center really sets itself apart from the competition. Here you will find the DC Butcher Shop, Hill Grill, Capital Craves, BBQ Pit Carvery, a few liquor stands, the Clubhouse, and the Acela Club, which is another one of those full-service restaurants I was telling you about. You do not need a ticket to access the club level concession stands and $15 will land you a table in the Acela Club. Note that you will need a game ticket to enter the arena and a separate ticket to enter the Acela Club. Also, an Acela Club pass will only give you a table in the club. Only Acela Club members with specific game tickets have access to the ledge seats from which you can see the game. Of the four club level concession stands, BBQ Pit Carvery is the favorite among fans, but they are all good options, provided you have $10-$15 to spare. The Acela Club offers two dining options: the traditional menu and the Chef's Table. Menu items run between $15-$30. For $39.95, you can eat from the gourmet buffet that is the Chef's Table.
The upper deck, 400-level concourse concessions are similar to the 100-level concessions. There are a few Residence Pub stands, Chick-fil-A stands, Hofman's Famous Meats, and X-Treme Nacho stands. Avoid the nachos.
A Capitals game at the Verizon Center is not for the feint of heart. If there is one word that describes the atmosphere at the Verizon Center, that word is intense. Whether they play the Panthers or the Rangers, Capitals fans are always there in full, drunken voice "Rocking the Red," as they say in DC. Boisterous chants of "Let's go Caps!" reverberate from the ice to the rafters from the opening faceoff to the final horn and the party spills over into F Street after the game when the Caps win.
The architectural design of the arena itself also lends a hand to the electric atmosphere, as there is not a bad seat in the house. It was designed to host concerts on top of sporting events, which means the acoustics are amazing. Even the standing room provides an excellent and unobstructed view of the action. Before the team takes the ice for the first period, the lights go out, Rock the Red, spotlights, and the Capitals logo flash around the arena and on the ice while music pulsates through the PA system and a montage of DC landmarks and great DC athletes plays on the jumbotron above center ice. All the excitement comes to a head when the Caps take the ice to a cacophony of noise and "Let's Go Caps!" chants which are maintained throughout the entire game. To sum all that up, the crowd is loud, the sightlines are terrific, and the beer is always flowing. Is there anything more a hockey fan could ask for?
The Verizon Center is located on the edge of Chinatown with the National Mall just one mile to the south and the White House a mile to the east. There is even a four-story shopping plaza complete with a movie theater, gym, restaurants, bars, and a bowling alley. The Gallery Place, as it is called, can be accessed from the lower concourse behind section 109 as well as from 6th, 7th, and H Streets. Opposite the Verizon Center on 7 St. NW is the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and Portraiture whose rotating exhibits have featured the likes of Van Gogh, Rockwell, and da Vinci. The best part about this museum is that it is free! The next block down from the Verizon Center, on the corner of F St. and 8th St., is the International Spy Museum, which is not free but still worth checking out, if you have time.
Now on to the plethora of food options within walking distance: Clyde's of Gallery Place is a classy, two-story pub with an entrance on 7th Street and one on the second story of the Gallery Place. Bar Louie is a modern bar with drinks a plenty that will not let anyone under 21 in after night games. One of the more unique spots in DC is on 6th Street across from the team and press entrances. It is a two-story Japanese Ramen kitchen and Izakaya. The Ramen kitchen is located on ground level, with the Izakaya above it on the second floor. For those of you who do not know what Izakaya is, it is a sort of Japanese saloon where friends can hang out in a relaxing atmosphere while sharing drinks and small-portion dishes. There are not very many of these in the States, so make it a priority when you visit the Verizon Center. The bar is open until 1 A.M. or the last man standing, but the kitchens, both the downstairs Ramen and upstairs Izakaya, close at 10. Another must for anyone visiting DC is a little spot by the name of Dangerously Delicious Pies, and I have yet to find a more aptly-named restaurant. Everything is made from scratch in the restaurant. The pies are baked throughout the day, and even the whipped crème is made to order! The last time I was there, I ordered a slice of the Baltimore Bomb Pie and my dad ordered some kind of quiche. We sat there and watched the waiter/chef pull the freshly-baked pie and quiche whole from the oven, cut out our slices, and serve it to us!
Capitals fans are an intensely territorial bunch. They are friendly enough if they think you are a Caps fan, but visiting fans beware. If you are caught wearing the opposing team's colors, you will be harassed before, during, and after the game, as it should be in the great Canadian sport. On top of being territorial, these fans are also very loud and incredibly loyal. Perhaps this 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 sell out or come close to selling out the 18,000-plus seat arena nearly every night and Rocking the Red with as much enthusiasm that cold weather, hard-nosed hockey, and alcohol can summon.
Much like Penn Station, New York at Madison Square Garden, Gallery Place Metro Stop is directly underneath the Verizon Center and parking is free at the DC Metro stations on the weekends and federal holidays. An all day pass will cost you $15 and give you unlimited access to the DC Metro for the entire day, just be sure to note that the Metro shuts down at midnight. If you don't feel like taking the Metro and opt to drive into the city, there are more parking garages within a mile of the Verizon Center than I care to count. On the day of the game, most of these garages will charge from $12-$30, with some even reaching $40. A parking pass in these same garages can be attained online anytime before game day for as little as $6 on sites like spothero.com and parkingpanda.com. The main entrance is on F Street, but there is also an entrance on 7th Street, which most people don't know about. Once inside, you will find that the 100-level and 400-level concourses are a bit narrow. As a result, they become congested rather quickly. This can be seen as a testament to the number of fans who show up night in and night out, but it doesn't take many people to clog up the concourses. Naturally the club concourse (300-level) is wider and doesn't really have this problem. Finding the escalators and staircases to the upper levels is also a bit of a challenge, as they are not immediately apparent from the main concourse.
Restrooms are plentiful, as are water fountains. After the game, the section of F Street in front of the arena is closed to traffic, and postgame traffic is minimal, due to the large number of different parking garages in the area.
Ticket prices have been going up in the past couple years, but one can still score a non-marquee game for about $25. The various parking garages make parking cheaper than stadiums with official lots, and getting in and out nearly hassle-free. Under Atmosphere, I mentioned that there is not a bad seat in the house. Unlike DC's four other stadiums, there is not a single obstructed view seat in the arena, which is becoming increasingly more rare in the world of professional sports stadia.
Unlike the NFL and certain MLB stadiums where a game day program will cost you anywhere from $5-$15, Capitals programs are free and occasionally include a small, fold-out poster of one of the players. The Verizon Center is located in the heart of the capital of the greatest country in the world, so be sure to check out the various museums and monuments on your trip. The Capitol Building and Library of Congress are spectacular and admission to both is free, as is admission to all of the Smithsonian museums. The light show on the ice before the game and between periods is also pretty awesome.
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.
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.
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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