Capital One Arena – Washington Wizards

by | Mar 16, 2019 | Gregory Koch, NBA | 0 comments

Fanfare Score

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Crowd Score

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The Capital of Basketball

Capital One Arena opened in 1997 as the home of the Washington Wizards, replacing the aging Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. However, the Wizards have thus far been unable to match the rise in popularity experienced by their co-tenant, the Washington Capitals. In addition to hosting these two teams, Capital One Arena plays host to Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball as well as the Washington Valor of the Arena Football League.

Food & Beverage 4

Capital One Arena has plenty of food and beverage offerings that are sure to satisfy any fan, but it is difficult to find truly special or local options. Main course options include Papa John’s pizza ($10 for an individual), cheeseburgers ($11.75) and chicken tenders ($11.75), and the last two come with fries as well. Other options include Italian sausage, hot dogs, and Chick-fil-A. Snacks include bottomless popcorn for $9 and hot pretzels for $6.

Thirsty fans can buy bottled water for $5. Soda, all Pepsi products, is $5 for a regular or $9.25 for a souvenir cup. Beer costs between $11 and $15 depending on the size and type. Capital One cardholders get a 10 percent discount on all concessions as part of the naming rights deal, but this does not come off automatically, you have to let them know.

The one place Capital One Arena does have special offerings is when it comes to alcohol. There are several kinds of alcoholic milkshakes available as well as “real authentic South Carolina moonshine,” though the letter’s authenticity is dubious seeing as real moonshine is illegal. Unfortunately, non-drinkers will not find the same wide selection of unique items when it comes to everything else. Still, there is a good, if pricey, selection.

Atmosphere 3

Capital One Arena main entrance is located on F Street NW in DC between 6th and 7th Streets, although there are several other entrances around the arena. Regardless of where you enter, you will be on the lower level, so fans sitting elsewhere will need to use stairs, an escalator, or an elevator.  The 100 and 400 levels are traditional seats for the most part, while the 200 level is the club level and the 300 level is all luxury suites. All seats have a good view of the court, but the legroom gets smaller and smaller the further up you go.  There is a scoreboard above center court which also shows video and player stats, as well as smaller boards in the corners.

The Wizards do a decent job of keeping the fans engaged, with contests, cheerleaders, and a dance team, but oftentimes it seems like this distracts from the game itself. When the opposing team gets an easy rebound and uncontested layup off a missed free throw, and the crowd is going wild because they just won free chicken sandwiches, that’s not a good look. There is a mascot named G-Wiz who is a blue creature of some sort, but he mostly stays in the corner and only comes out occasionally.

Neighborhood 5

Capital One Arena is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of DC, though the area has gentrified significantly since the arena was built. The Greene Turtle is a popular sports bar located right around the corner, and b Penn Quarter (yes, they do stylize their name with a lowercase b at the beginning) is a somewhat more upscale option a few blocks away for fans looking for a burger and a brew. The Gallery Place shopping mall is also right around the corner and includes numerous stores and a movie theater.

Your best entertainment options will involve traveling a bit away from the arena, but not far. That’s because you’re in DC, the nation’s capital, and there’s a lot to do; the best part is that most of it is free. Whether it’s checking out the many memorials and monuments on and around the National Mall, visiting one of the numerous museums, or simply taking in the historic sights, there’s something for everyone here. All government-run attractions are free to the public, though some private ones are not. Keep in mind, however, that if you wish to tour the Capitol or the White House, you will need to book that in advance.  

Fans 3

At any given Wizards game, there will be thousands of empty seats, in stark contrast to what you’d get at a Capitals game at the same arena. The fans who do show up frequently arrive late or leave early, and most of them don’t get too involved in the game. There are moments where they can get loud, but it’s mostly when they have a chance to win free Chick-fil-A if the opposing player misses two “Fowl Shots” or for other similar promotions. The Wizards have a nice arena, and it’s disappointing that the fans don’t turn out in larger numbers.

Access 4

Capital One Arena is located just steps from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station on the Red, Green, and Yellow lines. While this may seem like an amazing thing, the unfortunate reality is that Metro is difficult at the best of times and unusable at the worst. The last few years have seen numerous construction projects shut down several stations for weeks or even months at a time. Even if one of these isn’t ongoing, there is track work almost every weekend that increases headways on many lines and often closes several additional stations.

The result is that there could be 24 minutes or more between trains, and that’s assuming everything functions properly, which it frequently doesn’t. The good news is that even people coming from outside the immediate DC area can take the Metro by parking at one of the suburban stations. Parking fees are charged Monday-Friday and range from $3 to $6 depending on the station. Keep in mind that you will need to pay for parking with the same SmarTrip card you paid your fare with or you will be subject to a much higher rate at certain stations.

If you don’t want to chance it with Metro, you can drive to the game. Ample garage parking is available but is costly. The exact cost varies by the day and based on availability, but expect to pay at least $20 and probably much more.

Once you’re in the arena, the concourses are wide enough to allow for easy navigation. There can be long lines at concessions or restrooms during halftime, but if you leave as soon as the half ends, you should be back in your seat by the time the game resumes.   

Return on Investment 3

The Wizards use a variable pricing format where the exact price you pay will depend on the opponent. Prices start at between $18 and $25 depending on the opponent and go up to around $200 for lower level seats. However, you can often buy resale tickets for much less, especially for weeknight games and games against lesser opponents. Unfortunately, tickets are sold through Ticketmaster so you can expect massive fees tacked on. When you throw in the expensive concessions, attending a Wizards game can be deceptively expensive.

Extras 3

There are free programs available at the entrance. Be sure to check out the rafters as well, for retired numbers and the 1978 championship banner. One final star for the player introductions, an impressive display featuring flames shooting from above the court.

Final Thoughts

Although the Wizards had high hopes when they moved downtown in 1997 into a shiny new arena, the experience has proven to be less than promised. Although a Wizards game is more affordable than it would be to see the Capitals at the same arena, you ultimately get what you pay for. The atmosphere in the arena is pretty dead and it is an average NBA arena at best.


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Crowd Reviews

Latest Crowd Reviews

Date: 2018-06-04 21:56:57
By: Dave Cottenie

Total Score

Decent spot to see a game. Fantastic surrounding neighbourhood with museums and sights galore. Difficult to get to and fan interest is pretty up and down.

Date: 2018-03-06 11:59:29
By: Legacy Review

Total Score

A columnist for the Washington Post in 1997 remarked that the new name of Wizards could be worse and the same is true of the atmosphere today. It could be worse. For the most part, it is a safe place to take the family or a good place to entertain a potential business partner or client. Ushers vary from polite, helpful, and friendly, to rude, and fans are still filing in well after the opening tip off -- more on that later. Regardless of when you choose to arrive, be it two hours before tip off when the gates open, or right after the national anthem, be sure to get there in time to see the player introductions. This is when the Capital One Arena shines. Spotlights rove the largely empty stands while highlights from the various greats of DC sports flash across the Jumbotron. It all comes to a point with fire shooting up from flamethrowers suspended above the baskets and the players&#039 names and faces filling up the scoreboard and video ribbons. Aside from that, the cheerleaders make sporadic appearances on the court, and the mascot G-Wiz can be seen from time to time interacting with the fans.

Date: 2018-01-06 13:15:01
By: PeteD

Total Score

I&#039ve had two past experiences with the Wizards in their arena. I will give a review on both experiences. My first time at the then Verizon Center was my 2nd NBA Game. Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers 4/1/2015. The whole experience was lacking. The arena was dirty (I actually saw water dripping from the ceiling behind a concessions area) and the people working there were kinda rude. We had ok nosebleed seats (Section 200 Row F) and the Wizards were playing one of the worst teams in the league for the 2014/2015 season (76ers) that night. The arena was not even half full and the fans were not into the game at all. The arena sound system/jumbotron and other than team entertainment were just ok as compared to the experience I got at the Quicken Loans Arena (CAVS) at my first NBA game / NBA arena experience. I didn&#039t think that I&#039d ever be going back. Fast forward to 2017 and I had been to multiple NBA games at the Quicken Loans Arena (CAVS) and the Spectrum Center Arena (Hornets). Being a arena vet I went back to the then Verizon Center arena for the 5-7-2017 Wizards vs Celtics - Playoff Game 4. The arena was much improved concerning cleanliness but seats were still in need of having the padding replaced and the arena sound system/jumbotron is still underwhelming. I will go back but it&#039s not my favorite out of the three arenas I&#039ve been to.

Stadium Info

Capital One Arena
601 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004

Washington Wizards website

Capital One Arena website

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 20,282

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