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  • Richard Smith

Capital One Arena – Washington Capitals

Photos by Richard Smith and Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57

Capital One Arena

601 F St NW

Washington, DC 20004

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 18,506


Rocking The Red In DC

The Washington Capitals started in 1974 as an NHL expansion team along with the Kansas City Scouts. The Scouts later moved to New Jersey and became the Devils.

The Capital Centre (later known as the USAir Arena) was the Capital’s home until 1997. That suburban Maryland arena was also the home of the Capital/Washington Bullets/Wizards of the NBA from 1973 to 1997, and the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team. Many famous events were held at the "Cap Centre" including a boxing World Heavyweight Championship bout on April 30, 1976, with Jimmy Young challenging the champion Muhammad Ali. The fight went the full 15 rounds and was awarded unanimously to Ali. The Capital Centre was demolished in December 2002, though its name lives on in a shopping complex located on the former site of stadium as The Boulevard at the Capital Centre. It is within walking distance to the Washington Commanders home FedExField.

The Capital One Arena was originally known as the MCI Center when it opened in 1997 and later became the Verizon center. It is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and sits atop the Gallery Place station of the Washington Metro subway system. Although Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the arena, the land is leased from the city of Washington, DC. The Inaugural event was a concert performance by Barry Manilow in celebration of the then Capitals owner Abe Pollin's birthday on December 2, 1997.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment is the owner of the Capitals as well as other DC teams. Ted Leonsis, a former senior executive with America Online (AOL) is its founder, chairman, and CEO. The Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team still shares the arena with this collection of pro teams.

The arena hosted the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships. On October 2, 2019, the Capital One Arena hosted AEW Dynamite, the first televised professional wrestling event by All Elite Wrestling. The arena is a major venue for concerts and cultural events in the D.C. region and was also previously the home to The Washington International Horse Show.

Food & Beverage 5

Capital One Arena has many food options and each year there seems to be even more. The options are staggering and make a quick meal a pretty tough decision. Chef Jose Andre has a hand in many of the food offerings, which means the quality is pretty amazing.

The only issue is that prices are high, but after having a pre-game meal in a neighboring restaurant I was reminded that this whole area of town is not exactly the cheapest place to enjoy a meal. When you take that into consideration the high prices seem almost reasonable, or at least somewhat understandable.

If you are a Capital One credit card holder, you are entitled to a discount around the arena, but you may have to remind the cashiers to process it as such.

Atmosphere 5

The atmosphere at the Verizon Center has improved greatly in the last few years. The Capitals are currently the most successful of the local pro sports teams and the fans have shown their support.

The "Let's go Caps!" cheer can be pretty good. The fans are usually in full support of the team and they can really "rock the red."

The arena is nicely designed and offers great, unobstructed views no matter where you are in the facility. Even the nosebleed seats do not feel too far away from the action.

Capital One Arena has seen a recent addition of many newer videoboards within the arena bowl to help give the fans as much information about the game as can be done. Of course, some of the new video ribbon boards are more for marketing than just information, but they do enhance the look and feel of the arena. Some of the video boards even are two-sided and offer different information on each side of the screens.

The arena is very loud. The PA and sound system will pump out loud music to go along with the amazing graphics in place. The pre-game video show is quite impressive. For 2023 the show begins with mascot "Slapshot' stealing the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives in a nod to the movie National Treasure. The conclusion of the show is that he brings it back to the arena and letters from the document become re-arranged to display "Let's Go Caps!"

During both that show and other times between periods, the ice itself is used as a massive video screen. This is a great way provide entertainment for the fans.

There is also the amusing pregame tradition is that they will often play a mocking song as the visiting team is introduced, one that is typically related to their nickname or something else about them. We saw them play “Baby Shark” for the San Jose Sharks.

The main mascot is that eagle named Slapshot who roams the stands during the game and fires up the crowd. There will also be fun little video games such as spot the mascot.

The Capitals do a good job being part of the DC area community, as events such as Youth Hockey Day are great to see. Kids are also used as part of the starting lineup announcement. The game we attended also had mini mite kid hockey games between periods, and we believe this happens at most games on the schedule.

The Capitals and the Capital One Arena are also offering safe spaces and kits for those attending the games with individuals who have sensory issues.

Neighborhood 5

Capital One Arena is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC., and sits atop the Gallery Place station of the Washington Metro subway system. There is a multitude of bars and restaurants in the area that are quite excellent such as Shake Shake, Greene Turtle, and my favorite, Chinatown Express.

A few of my favorites away from the area are Toki Underground (in the Atlas Arts District), Doi Moi (Logan Circle) and Bar Charley (near Dupont Circle). A good suggestion is to stop by Bar Charley for some great craft cocktails and walk the few blocks over to Doi Moi to finish up with some great Asian small plates.

Did I mention you are right in the middle of Washington, DC? The amount of attractions, museums, restaurants and other sights are astounding. Spend some time pre or postgame seeing the many things around this great city. The African American History museum, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, which is located across the street from the arena, are great choices.

Fans 5

The fans are louder than they used to be. The "Let's go Caps!" chant used to be drowned out by the opposing team fans, especially if it is the Rangers, Flyers or Red Wings. Now it seems like the local fans overcome their “guests”.

The Capitals are the best supported sports team in DC. The Commanders may play in a bigger stadium eight times a year, but the fans here show their support to a team that may also be the overall best performing local team.

Access 3

This is DC, so parking is an option, but one that can be frustrating and possibly very expensive. There will be lots around in the area and at various prices. The best idea is to find one on a site like Spot Hero closer towards the White House and that end of downtown. That way it will cheaper and less crazy after the game.

Another option is to try and not drive and instead take the subway system, known as the Metro. The Metro is frustratingly overpriced and slow compared to systems in other cities, but it really does get you to nearly all parts of the city, except for Georgetown. Just be careful on weekends when trains run less often or are in single track mode, as you may encounter some extended wait times. The Gallery Place Station is right underneath the Capital One Arena.

You will also spend quite a bit of time walking around DC. It is large and spread out. So bring some good walking shoes.

The National Mall and all its attractions are just a few blocks south so try and stop by pre or postgame.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets, like most in the NHL, are expensive. But good seats can be had for decent prices when needed. The prices will vary depending on the opponent.

Extras 5

The team offers free programs for all games. At a time when some teams charge for almost anything this is a welcome sight.

Looking out the windows of the concourse you will see that you are in the heart of the historic part of DC. That is a great sight to see. The National Portrait Gallery is right next to the stadium. Other great attractions and museums are in close distance.

Ted Leonsis, the team's owner, is an attraction himself. You will often times see the owner in the crowd mingling and talking to fans. I even once witnessed him scooping ice cream for a family ticketed event. His ownership has provided a great deal to be excited about.

The mascot and their integration into the wonderful video display and show, is a great thing to see.

I like that the arena is in the heart of the historic district, but also the Chinatown area. There are some great things to see in this area of tow

Final Thoughts

The Capital One Arena is a great arena, and easily one of the best in the Washington, DC area. The fans are some of the best in the area and you will have a great time at this impressive facility.

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