Capital One Arena – Washington Mystics
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Capital One Arena in Washington, DC is home to several sports teams, most notably the Washington Capitals of the NHL and the Washington Wizards of the NBA, but also the Georgetown Hoyas and the WNBA Washington Mystics. Opened in 1997 at a cost of $260M ($362M in today’s dollars), it is connected to a shopping mall, and close to the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums. The size of the venue has fluctuated very slightly over the years, but currently holds 20,282 for basketball.
Food & Beverage 3
Capital One Arena offers a wide variety of food and beverage options on site, but a lot of the concessions stands are closed when the Mystics are playing, since the crowd is so much smaller during those events. The prices are on the high side for pro venues, probably due to the venue being located in Washington, DC.
The main stands sell chicken tenders with fires for $11, burgers for $9.50, kid’s meals for $7, $6.50 for fries, pretzels for $6, and hot dogs for $5.25. Smaller stands have popcorn for $7.50, soft serve ice cream for $6.75, funnel cake for $6, cotton candy for $4.25, or Dunkin’ Donuts for $2 each ($5 for a pack of Munchkins). You can also got Papa John’s pizza, or Rita’s Italian ice and custard.
Soda is $5.25 to $9, depending on size, and you can get it from the fountain or in bottles; bottled water is $4.50 to $6.50. The Dunkin’ Donuts stand has all manner of coffees, teas, lattes, and even hot cocoa for $3 to $7. Several varieties of beer are available in cans for $9 to $13, and you can get it all over Capital One Arena.
While the arena is great, it isn’t at full throttle during a Mystics game – it would be more enjoyable during a Washington Capitals or Washington Wizards game when all of the amenities are open. However, it is a lot less crowded when the Mystics are playing, so that is a plus.
The stadium features padded chair back seats (with plastic covers) in all areas, and though the crowd is not large, the venue does a good job with music and other entertainment, including the Mystics Mayhem dance team, made up of 7-13 year olds, which performs frequently during breaks in the action. Some fans even get up and dance during the Mayhem’s performance, which adds to the fun.
The seats in the upper decks are not sold for Mystics game, so all fans are in the lower level very close to the action, and most sit on the sides – very few sit behind the backboard. There are a couple of sections of floor seating as well if you want to get really close.
Our nation’s capital is always worth a visit – while traffic is terrible, there are plenty of attractions to see, including the National Mall, the Smithsonian, myriad other monuments and museums, and of course, plenty of bars and restaurants.
Capital One Arena is located downtown, and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. In fact, the arena is actually connected to its own shopping mall (Gallery Place), which has a movie theater, a bowling alley, plenty of shopping, and several restaurants – all literally a few hundred feet from the court. Right outside of Gallery Place there are additional restaurants including Legal Sea Foods, Clyde’s Alley Bar, and the Greene Turtle, which is also connected to the arena.
With all the attractions and restaurants nearby, there is more than enough to do if you want to stay for a whole weekend, or even much longer.
There are plenty of hotels near Capital One Arena, but they are on the pricey side due to the downtown location. You may prefer to stay outside the beltway to save some money, but then there will be more traffic to contend with as you drive back and forth.
On a good day the Mystics might only draw 2500, which is only about 1/8 capacity, but the fans who do show up are really intense.
Many of the fans are really into the game, a little on the angry side even when things don’t go the Mystics way, with lots of yelling at the refs. As mentioned previously, a lot of the fans dance along when the Mayhem perform, and they really seem to enjoy the music as well. The fans in the court-side seats are the most vocal, which is to be expected. The concourse is pretty deserted when the game is going on, as most fans only leave their seats during half-time.
Getting to Capital One Arena isn’t difficult, since it is right downtown and near several major freeways, but parking nearby is very expensive, and traffic in the city can be hairy, so you may prefer to take the metro.
The Metro is DC’s subway system, and Gallery Place/Chinatown is a stop on the red line.
If you prefer to drive, there is a parking deck at Gallery Place, which connects to Capital One Arena, but it may cost over $30 ($12 for the first hour plus $7 for each additional hour, although you can get your parking validated if you do some shopping). There are other decks a few blocks away which aren’t much better, although for night games you can park all night for $15 if you enter after 5 pm. Parking on the street is almost impossible so probably isn’t worth the effort.
There are entrances on all sides of the venue, but make sure to bring your ticket with you if you can – there is only one ticket booth/will call booth, and it may not be on the side you park on.
Capital One Arena is very easy to move around during Mystics games because the concourses are so wide and there are so few people there. The bathrooms are also really well done, with self-flushing urinals in the men’s rooms, as well as shelves over each one to hold your beverage.
Return on Investment 3
Attending a Mystics game can be a very expensive proposition, especially if you have a large group – tickets are much more expensive than they should be, concessions are on the high end, and parking is pricey.
Tickets range from $25 (behind the net) to $70 (midcourt), but you could get away with buying the cheap seats and moving closer since it won’t be full. If you want to save money the metro is cheaper than parking, but will add time to your travel. A meal at the game will cost at least $15, and perhaps a lot more, so you may want to eat before you come.
One point for the shopping mall connected to the arena, and a second point for all of the attractions in DC. A third point for the Mayhem dance team, which is clearly a crowd favorite.
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