For the Metro Division Travel Guide series, I gathered input from fellow FanSided staff writers and fans who have frequented the featured arena. We will take a look at each member of the Metropolitan Division and cover three basic areas: why you should make the trip, the best food and drink options before and after the game, and the best (and affordable) seating options in the arena. With all divisional play now occurring within the Eastern Time Zone, travel has never been easier for Blue Jackets fans!
For the final stop in the series, we will head to our nation’s capital for a visit to the Washington Capitals. For some additional input, I turned to Angela Lewis (@LadyHatTrick on Twitter), former Caps beat writer and NHL Staff Writer at The Sports Forecaster magazine.
The Caps have called the Verizon Center (formerly known as the MCI Center) home since it opened in 1997 and replaced the aging Capital Centre. Located in the Chinatown neighborhood of D.C., the arena has increased commercial development in the area and is credited with revitalizing the neighborhood. The original Capital Centre was the first arena to have video replay capabilities on its scoreboard, and was also the first to be built with luxury boxes. The Verizon Center continued this reputation of firsts by becoming the first arena to install an indoor “true HD LED scoreboard”.
Distance From Nationwide Arena:
When the Blue Jackets Will Be There:
Saturday, Oct 19, 2013: 7PM
Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013: 7PM
(Source: bluejackets.nhl.com )
Why It is Worth the Trip:
D.C. is, of course, the nation’s capital. So if you’re looking to enjoy a diverse area with tons of humidity, bumping into yuppies and transplants, unlimited happy hour options and cluttered tourist locations, it’s an ideal location to visit. I’ve lived here my whole life, so there are a million things I could say about the DMV.
There are definitely some great locations for both nightlife and family-friendly activities; history, science, good local booze, etc. If you plan to go to a Caps game, though, folks would love the atmosphere of Caps games.
The fans get extremely loud — so loud that a few friends and former colleagues from Montreal gave Caps fans props for how raucous the Verizon Center can get. Opposing fans used to go to Caps games in droves, but I’ve noticed fewer of those types. Just be a nice person and I promise nothing bad will happen to you. Plus, I’m sure locals would be excited to meet a Blue Jackets fan.
Best Pre/Post Game Hangout:
Penn Quarter Sports Tavern has been dubbed one of the best Caps bars in D.C. and isn’t far at all from the Verizon Center, located in Gallery Place-Chinatown. There are countless numbers of bars right next to the Verizon Center, such as Bar Louie, The Green Turtle, Iron Horse, Clyde’s and Gordon Biersch Brewing Company.
I’m a fan of really checking out a location thoroughly, though. With the accessibility of Maryland and Virginia due to the metro system, if fans have time, they can check out bars there as well. There are
places all over that cater to Caps fans throughout Maryland (where the practice facility used to be located) and Northern Virginia (where the practice facility is now located). I’ve heard great things about places in Bethesda, Md.: Caddie’s, Union Jacks and Steamers. At the latter, there’s also seafood — you’re in Maryland and you can’t leave without having crabs.
In Virginia, you have Bugsy’s, which is owned by former Capitals defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson who played with the Caps in the late ’70s. Then you have Front Page Arlington, which is frequented by plenty of Caps players and staff (It’s pretty much across the street from the practice rink).
Where you should sit:
At Verizon Center, there isn’t a bad seat (unlike the old USAir Arena). Tickets continue to rise as with the team’s expectations. It’ll be tough to get tickets, but there are always options online.
Besides New York City, Washington D.C. offers the best experience for visitors outside of the hockey arena in the Metropolitan Division. While this series has shown each arena offers a reason for hockey fans to make the trip, you can build an entire vacation around a visit to the Verizon Center. The various historical sites and museums can keep you occupied for an entire weekend. In addition to experiencing what the city has to offer, the Verizon Center is filled with passionate fans watching one of the NHL’s marquee teams. Visiting our nation’s capital is a must for everyone and the ability to take in a great hockey game is an added bonus.