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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Entertainment and Sports Arena - Capital City Go-Go

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Entertainment and Sports Arena St. Elizabeth's East Campus 1100 Oak Dr SE Washington, DC 20032

Year Opened: 2018 Capacity: 4,200


Go-Go Go to the ESA

Prior to 2018, the Washington Wizards were one of the few NBA teams without a G League affiliate. Dating back to the league’s time as the Development League, the Wizards never had a club to send their younger players to.

That all changed when the Capital City Go-Go were founded and the Entertainment & Sports Arena opened. The ESA was built on the former site of St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital with the intent of revitalizing the Congress Heights neighborhood. In addition to hosting the Go-Go, the arena is the home to the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and has also hosted events ranging from college basketball to e-sports.

Food & Beverage 4

The Entertainment & Sports Arena has several concessions stands serving classic food items as well as items from local vendors. If you’re looking for a meal, your options include a cheeseburger and fries for $12, chicken tenders and fries for $10, hot dog for $6, or a half smoke combo featuring one of the more unique regional items for $10. Snacks include nachos for $6 and bottomless popcorn for $8. Fans looking to indulge their sweet tooth can head to The Orange Cow, a local vendor which has its own stand at the arena. As you might expect from the name, options there include ice cream cups and ice cream sandwiches, both for $6, and a frozen chocolate banana for $4. The last one is one of the more unique options you will find at any arena.

Thirsty fans can buy Pepsi products, Gatorade, water, or lemonade, all for $5 each. Beer ranges from $9 to $11 for 16 oz. can.

Atmosphere 3

The Entertainment & Sports Arena features chair back seating on all four sides of the floor. There is a second level of chair backs on one of the sidelines which is general admission. All other seats are reserved. There are two video boards, one behind each of the baskets, which also show the score and other basic information. Boards in each of the corners give more detailed player stats.

The Go-Go nickname is a homage to the style of music that originated in Washington, so as you might expect there is a lot of go-go music piped in throughout the arena, including a recording of a go-go drum. There is also a real drum that they play on occasion during timeouts. Whether it’s banging the drum or something else, the Go-Go run a number of promotions to keep the team engaged during breaks in the action.

Neighborhood 3

Let’s start with the bad news – although the Congress Heights neighborhood is supposedly “on the rise,” it is not quite there yet. Although the immediate vicinity of the arena is perfectly safe, thanks in part to the police and security presence, you do not want to venture too far away unless you are in the safety of a vehicle or public transit. If you must explore the immediate vicinity on foot, most of the restaurants in the area are chain ones. You’re better off hopping on the Metro or taking an Uber and heading to other parts of the District for better options.

Speaking of which, once you get outside Congress Heights, there are a lot of things to do in Washington, and most of them are free. Whether it’s taking in the monuments and other sights on the National Mall or visiting one of the many museums, there’s truly something for everybody. All government-run attractions are free, but some privately owned ones are not. Just keep in mind if you plan on touring the Capitol or the White House, you will need to schedule that in advance.

Fans 2

Unfortunately, Go-Go games are still sparsely attended. It seems many fans in Washington have not heard of them, or if they have, they have no idea where the arena is. When people have no idea there is even an arena here, it is hard to get them to come to games. As for the fans who do show up, some of them can get quite into it, but the majority of them aren’t all that into it for most of the game. Sure, they’ll cheer for big plays, but the majority of the game, there is no noise from the fans save small pockets of people.

Access 4

If you’re planning to take the Metro to the game, the Entertainment & Sports Arena is about a five-minute walk away from the Congress Heights station on the Green Line. Limited parking is also available on site for $10, but you will likely need to reserve this in advance and may need to take a shuttle or walk a bit to and from the lot. Also, keep in mind the entire area around the arena is a new development, and many GPS apps have not updated to reflect this yet. They may instruct you to turn down streets that no longer exist while not showing the new streets that make up the area around the arena. Be sure to allot extra time if you don’t know where you’re going.

Return on Investment 3

The kind of deal you get depends strongly on how you buy your tickets. If you purchase directly from the team, ticket prices range from $10 for upper level general admission seats to $35 for front row seats at center court. Court side seats will cost you twice that when they are available, but will only get you marginally closer than the $35 tickets and are probably not worth it. Unfortunately, the Go-Go use Ticketmaster to sell their tickets, so expect the price to go up by around 50% with fees. Even $35 is pretty expensive considering the atmosphere and the quality of play, and that’s not even factoring in the massive fees.

However, the good news is that Ticketmaster also offers Verified Resale Tickets, which typically go for significantly less than face value. Lower level sideline seats can go for as low as $6, and rarely more than $10. Of course, you still have to pay fees, but this is significantly more affordable than paying face value. That being said, this is obviously not a sustainable or positive model for the team and they should look to improve the value of attending games.

Extras 2

There is a “Pop-a-Shot” located in one of the corners where children can shoot baskets at an inflatable hoop. Small kids often get bored sitting in one place for a long time, and this can be a way for them to let off some of that energy while their parents enjoy the game.

Go-Go players are also available to sign autographs for fans from the time doors open until 20 minutes before tip off.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, many people in Washington have no idea the Capital City Go-Go or the Entertainment & Sports Arena even exist. Those who are aware of it will find it a decent enough experience, but being in a mostly empty arena often isn’t much fun for anyone but the most die-hard of basketball fans. The Go-Go and the ESA would do well to market themselves better, and hopefully once the team and arena have been around for a few years, the crowds and atmosphere will improve.

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