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Your Gameday Guide: Washington Wizards and Capitals at Verizon Center

Updated on April 8, 2015

Game day, or game night, at the Verizon Center is a unique experience. It’s different in a good way. The setting in Chinatown is really what makes it so great. It’s easy and great to walk with great bars in earshot. I, and most other DMV (D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia) natives, would recommend ditching your car and taking the metro. It actually makes it a fun way to experience the area not relying on your car to get everywhere with the traffic although parking is surprisingly not that bad at all. You can find street parking or go the underground parking lot route. Of course the smoothness and easiness of it all varies depending on what time or how late you get there.

Bar Scene

Penn Commons and Matchbox Chinatown are two great bars to experience before and after the game. Penn Commons leans towards an upscale feel. The craft beer selection is great at both but if you’re with the kids, you can’t beat the brick oven pizza at Matchbox Chinatown on 713 H St. NW. Considering you would be paying for a truly cheap to make but sickeningly overpriced soda and hotdog at the game (don’t even mess with the arena food if you don’t have to), Penn Commons and Matchbox are two great choices especially if you get there early before the game. It definitely completes the enjoyable experience, especially if you have time.


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Safety

Many people that aren’t familiar with the area are wary of D.C. because of some parts having an unfortunate past. There really is nothing to worry about and it is actually a great and safe city to experience and enjoy. As a general rule they say to stay close to Northwest and stay away from Southeast. Verizon Center’s location in Chinatown is about as safe and nice as you can get. Southeast D.C. has improved tremendously as well and has some nice areas now. Parts of Washington, D.C. are also deceptively nice and safe.


Seating


When you get to the game you will either feel really close, at least at a comfortable distance, or like you’re about to fall off that really steep mountain in your nightmares. Seating gets uncomfortably steep at the top deck so be aware of that when you’re buying tickets. Floor seats are obviously great, as well the bleachers behind the basket and off to the side or under the basket at Wizards games and the same areas or hockey equivalent at Caps games. 100 and 200 level seating are awesome and make for an enjoyable experience.


RGIII of the Redskins and D.C. area rapper Wale courtside

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Recommendations

The one thing I’ve always done and would recommend others to do, especially with kids, is to check the schedule for bobble head giveaway games. Get tickets for those games and get there early. Bobble heads are everything especially when your team is absolutely terrible although the Wizards and Caps have picked it up over the years. Besides basketball and hockey, look out for concerts and other entertainment. With Verizon being an all-purpose arena, there’s a lot to experience there. Check StubHub for tickets and don’t bother with the scalpers unless you really have to and make sure you’re getting at least decent seats and a good deal. You have to know Verizon Center and the surrounding area provide a great feel and aura. The Player’s Club, located on the Lexus Suite Level, is a member’s only club that has everything you would want. It looks like a fancy restaurant, fireplaces included. I would highly recommend paying to gain membership to this awesome part of the Verizon Center if you plan on being in the Nation’s Capital again. Enjoy the experience!


Fan Interaction & Post Game Traffic

At the game you’ll feel safe and there are times you will forget you are at the home arena of the Wizards and Caps simply because of the Washington, D.C. area being full of out of area transplants here for jobs. You can always bet on a good number of opposing fans to be there. The Washington fans themselves are pretty great if I say so myself. People are people and you’re going to get a mix wherever you are but it is true many are stressed and tense because of the “rat race” business feel around D.C. so there are many that are not overly friendly like you might find in the Midwest or Deep South. You don’t have to worry about being bothered though. I remember a Wizards game where a fan was having a good time messing with Kevin Durant calling him skinny and whatnot but it usually never gets out of hand. Don’t forget to hit up the team store before you leave. There is something for everyone in there. Post-game traffic is absolutely terrible so taking the metro is king. You’re going to get crowds with the metro but it definitely beats being stuck in traffic and having a homeless dude bang on the window of your dad’s car when you’re 11 and stopping for a post game celebratory milkshake at McDonalds. Like I said, you’re safe in DC. It happened back when D.C. was sketchy.


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