Capital One Arena - Georgetown Hoyas
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Capital One Arena FANFARE Score: 3.86
Capital One Arena 601 F St NW Washington, DC 20004
Year Opened: 1997 Capacity: 20,356
The Georgetown Hoyas are one of the most storied programs in college basketball history. With players like Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning, the Hoyas dominated the Big East for many years. They have reached five Final Fours, including a national championship victory in 1984.
For many years, the Hoyas played on campus at McDonough Arena but moved off campus to the Capital Centre in Landover, MD in 1981 to accommodate the bigger crowds. McDonough is still home to the Hoyas’ women’s basketball team. In 1997, the Hoyas moved back to the District into what was then called the MCI Center and is today known as Capital One Arena. This arena is also the home of the Washington Wizards of the NBA and the Washington Capitals of the NHL.
Georgetown’s colors are blue and gray and were chosen after the Civil War to promote unity between northern and southern students, many of whom had served in battle for one side or the other. Blue and gray were, of course, the colors of the Union and Confederate military uniforms, respectively.
Food & Beverage 4
Seeing as Capital One Arena is a professional sporting venue, it does have quite a wide selection. However, the flip side of this is that what they have is quite expensive for a college venue. Additionally, many of the stands, including most of the specialty stands, will be closed for most games due to the smaller crowds compared to the Wizards and Capitals. That being said, fans certainly won’t go hungry. Main course selections include cheeseburgers ($11.75), chicken tenders ($11.75), and Papa John’s individual pizzas ($10 for cheese or pepperoni) as well as items such as sausage and hot dogs. Snacks include popcorn for $9 and hot pretzels for $6.
Drinks include bottled water for $5 and soda for either $5 or $9.25, depending on whether or not you want a souvenir cup. Keep in mind that fountain beverages no longer come with lids or straws at Capital One Arena in an attempt to reduce environmental waste. Since Capital One is an off-campus arena, it is not too surprising that alcohol is available. Beer costs between $11 and $15 depending on the size and type.
As part of the naming rights deal, all Capital One credit or debit cardholders get a 10 percent discount on concessions throughout the arena, but this does not come off automatically and you must notify the cashier.
Capital One Arena is a perfect example of why bigger isn’t always better. Although the arena seats over 20,000 fans, it is rarely even close to full. Although the Hoyas’ former on-campus home is way too small at only a few thousand seats, it seems like there should be a happy medium somewhere. The arena is far too big and has a tendency to mask the crowd noise and reduce what would otherwise be an incredible atmosphere. That being said, there are no plans to build a new arena on or off campus at any point in the future and the Hoyas seem content with playing at Capital One despite the thousands of empty seats at each home game.
The Hoyas do at least try to keep fans engaged. There is a pep band as well as cheerleaders and a dance team to pump up the crowd, and contests on the court during TV timeouts. The Hoyas’ mascot is a bulldog named Jack, and there is both a costumed version and a real live dog version. The most popular Georgetown chant is “Hoya Saxa,” which literally means something to the effect of “What rocks!” in a combination of Greek and Latin. Fans can expect to hear it several times a game.
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 are 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.
Although Georgetown fans rarely fill Capital One Arena, they are not fully to blame for this. Once again, the arena is far bigger than it should be for Georgetown basketball and this hurts things a bit. The crowd also has a tendency to be late-arriving and many people don’t show up until a few minutes after tip-off, but when they do get here, they’re loud, passionate, and stay and cheer for the whole game. The student section is especially passionate, and most of them will stand and yell for two hours straight to cheer on their school. The fact that the arena is located off-campus doesn’t seem to bother them too much.
Ultimately, Capital One Arena could benefit from being a bit smaller, but this isn’t really the fans’ fault. While it would be nice to have the same atmosphere at tip-off that there is later in the game, Hoyas fans are among the best in the nation once they actually show up.
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.
If you don’t want to chance it with Metro, you can drive to the game. There is a garage located directly underneath the stadium that costs $25 to park in as well as several others in the general vicinity of the arena. Just keep in mind it could take you a while to get out of downtown once the game ends, as traffic does get backed up.
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 4
The Hoyas use a dynamic pricing method for their tickets, meaning pricing varies based on demand, opponent, and other factors such as the day of the week the game is being played. Good seats can be had for as little as $10 for non-conference games against lower-tier opponents, but if you want to see a top-level Big East school like Villanova, expect to pay at least $30, and possibly over $100 if you want lower-level seats.
If you don’t care who you see the Hoyas play, you can have a chance to watch Big East basketball and get great seats for far less than what a comparable location would cost for other events in the arena. Tickets are still relatively affordable for the bigger games, but you’ll be paying more for worse seats.
The one downside of all this is that tickets are sold through Ticketmaster, so expect to pay far more than the listed value due to massive fees. The Ticketmaster factor is enough to take this ranking down a notch, but considering the level of play, you’re still getting a good deal.
There are free programs available at the entrance that provides detailed information on the Hoyas and their opponent.
The player introductions before the game are quite impressive and feature a light show and other audiovisual methods to really get the crowd into it before the game.
Finally, in one of the most adorable traditions in college basketball, Jack the Bulldog, the Hoyas live animal mascot, rides out onto the court in a personalized miniature car during one of the TV timeouts.
Although the legendary Hoyas’ programs of the 80s and 90s are no more, and the Big East isn’t what it used to be, Georgetown is still by far the best college basketball program in the District of Columbia. A visit to Capital One Arena is truly a must for any college basketball fan in the area.
That being said, the Hoys would probably benefit from moving to a smaller arena. Having thousands of empty seats for every home game is not a good look for the program, and the cavernous feel of the arena detracts from what could be an even better atmosphere than it already is. Unfortunately, there is no realistic way to do that at this time.