CAPITAL ONE ARENA
STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANK: #16
- Location: Washington D.C.
- Opened 1997
- Capacity 18,506
- Games attended: 2
- Last visited: 2023
What a difference on-ice success makes.
Washington used to be a lousy hockey market with an indifferent fanbase and a subpar arena experience. Anybody who saw a poorly-attended game at the old Capital Centre can attest how much the Capitals’ game day experience has improved.
The Capital One Arena has all the ingredients needed for a good time. Great downtown location central to many pregame options? Check. Insanely huge scoreboard? Check. Plenty of craft beer choices? Check. A cool pregame program projected onto the ice? Check. An in-rink Chick Fil-A? Check. A loud, jersey-wearing crowd? Check. Good hockey? Check. (During the regular season, that’s been a “check” for the better part of two decades. Playoffs…)
The arena sits in Chinatown, a few blocks north of the National Mall, and an easy walk from any of DC’s 5 main Metro lines. Parking is available, but costly. I felt perfectly safe walking the streets back to my hotel after the game, which I probably wouldn’t have said when the rink was first built.
Overall, I’d characterize the structure itself as a modern functional building that lacks any defining, memorable feature. The concession areas are wide and easy to navigate. The lower concourse is filled with large windows, allowing tons of natural light into the building. But otherwise, it’s a nice but “typical” NHL venue.
There are a lot of jersey-wearing fans here who take the Rock the Red team mantra to heart. But unlike other cities where one sees a smattering of vintage player jerseys from long-time fans, almost all fans here are sporting a vermilion-colored sweater featuring a current Capital player; there was nary a Langway, a Gartner or a Maruk jersery to be found. It’s loud, though many only yell when it’s obvious (like after a goal) or when told to do so by the scoreboard. And it’s an expensive night out even by NHL standards with everything seemingly costing just a little more than average.
Minor critiques aside, with the Caps still skating high, it’s a fantastic place to watch an NHL game. Even with so much to see and do in our Nation’s Capital, hockey fans should make room for a Caps game on their D.C. winter’s itinerary.