Capital One Arena – Washington Valor
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Football Starts Up in Washington, D.C.
Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. is home to numerous sports teams, most notably the NHL’s Capitals and the NBA’s Wizards, but also the Georgetown Hoyas, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and the newly formed Washington Valor of the Arena Football League. Connected to a shopping mall, the venue opened in 1997 at a cost of $260M ($362M in today’s dollars), and is within walking distance of the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums (in fact the National Portrait Gallery is right across the street). The size of the venue has fluctuated very slightly over the years, but currently holds around 20K.
Food & Beverage 4
Capital One Arena offers a huge variety of food and beverage options during Washington Valor games, and all the stands appear to be open, despite the smaller attendance compared to hockey and basketball games. The prices tend to be a little on the high side for pro venues, but this is probably due to the venue being in Washington, DC.
At the main concessions stands you can find all of the basics such as chicken tenders, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, and fries, but there are also specialty stands where you can find items such as Chick-fil-A sandwiches, barbecue, Hofmann hot dogs, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even Rita’s or Mini Melts ice cream. Food and dessert items start at $3 for the smallest items, and go up to about $15 for combo meals.
Capital One Arena offers all the beverage options you would expect from a sports venue, including bottled water, soda, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and of course, beer and wine – hot drinks start at $3, soda and bottled water start at $5, and beer and wine start at $9.50. There are many different alcohol selections available, both on draft and in cans and bottles, so be sure to wander around the different concessions stands to find what you want.
Capital One Arena is a great venue with all the amenities you could wish for, including chair back seats in all areas, a massive video board to see replays, and great acoustics. As you might expect, however, it doesn’t tend to fill up during Valor games, although this may improve over time.
The staff does a good job keeping fans entertained during the game, including the typical fan contests and handing out of t-shirts, in addition to plenty of music. Fans also receive a free towel when they enter (which are shaped like football jerseys), and these towels are waved enthusiastically every time the Valor score a touchdown. The Valor mascot and cheerleaders are also on hand to keep fans engaged during the game, and keep them cheering on the home team.
The official attendance at Capital One Arena during Valor games is around 11K, although in reality it feels like a lot less. Seats in the third tier are not sold for Valor games, so fans can only sit in the middle and lower levels. However, if you are willing to spend a little more, the Etihad Airlines Club offers fans the chance to stand behind the end zone during game; tickets in this area include a huge selection of free food, as well as a cash bar.
Our nation’s capital is always worth a visit – while traffic is very heavy, there are plenty of attractions to see, including the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, myriad monuments, and of course, plenty of bars and restaurants.
Capital One Arena is located near the National Mall, 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 arena. 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 nearby there is more than enough to do if you want to stay for a couple days, or even 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.
The Washington Valor only came into existence in 2017, so they don’t yet draw more than four or five thousand to a typical game. However, their draw should increase over time, as the team builds up a fan base.
Valor fans at Capital One Arena are really into the game, and you can see them vigorously waving their towels when their team scores. They also seem to enjoy the music, but really can be seen jumping to their feet when t-shirts are being tossed out, or when a football comes their way (in the Arena Football League, fans are allowed to keep balls that are thrown or kicked out of bounds).
Getting to Capital One Arena isn’t difficult, since it is close to the National Mall and thus 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 – for Capital One Arena, take the Gallery Place/Chinatown stop on the red line.
Parking at Gallery Place, which is connected to Capital One Arena, costs $30 for event parking, but you can park a few blocks away for as little as $15 if you enter after 5 pm. Finding an open space on a nearby street is almost impossible, and probably isn’t worth the effort.
There are entrances on all sides of Capital One Arena, but make sure to bring your ticket with you if you can – there is only one ticket office/will call pickup, and it may not be on the side you park on.
Capital One Arena is very easy to move around during Valor games, because the concourses are very wide and there are not many people inside. The bathrooms are especially well done – there are more than enough of them, and the men’s rooms feature self-flushing urinals with shelves overhead to hold your beverage.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to Washington Valor games start at $17, which is cheaper than your typical pro event, but more than your average minor league baseball game, and parking and concessions are a little on the high side.
That said, you should be able to find deals on tickets, possibly on the secondary market, since more tickets are being sold than fans who show up. Also, since the venue will rarely fill up during Valor games, you should be able to get the cheap seats and move closer. In addition, if you are willing to walk a few blocks, and possibly eat before you come, you could save even more, which would be especially worthwhile if you have a large group.
Capital One Arena gets credit for being a top-of-the-line venue, and arena football fans benefit from the fact that the great amenities are really being paid for by the pro basketball and pro hockey fans. Plus, there is a shopping mall connected to the venue, and all the great DC attractions are within walking distance, so you really can’t go wrong coming here to see a Valor game – you can even pick up some free swag in the form of a team towel to wave.
Washington, DC is a great city to visit with all its attractions, and Capital One Arena is a great venue with lots of bells and whistles. Attending a Valor game here may not provide the same energy as a Capitals or Wizards game, given the smaller crowd size, but it will be much easier on the wallet, and plenty entertaining nonetheless.
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