Photo credit: Lisa Desabrais
I was approached a few weeks ago to give my thoughts on the Capitals post season. The aftermath of the loss was still too fresh, so I declined. Forward to now and I was given the opportunity to discuss another topic – my thoughts going forward on Caps fans and team interaction/ support and how the hockey experience can be enhanced at Verizon Center.
Not too long ago, I wrote about my trip with my husband to Nashville to watch the Caps play.
I remember commenting on how odd (and to be honest, a little bit annoying) some of their chants were (because of course they were playing our guys).
Since I no longer had a fish in the fight, pun intended, I was able to step back and take an unbiased look at what they do at Bridgestone Arena to keep the spectators engaged. More importantly, I have seen what their fans do to show support for “their guys”.
I used the word “spectator” because we all know that no barn is filled exclusively with season ticket holders.
I have seen others lambaste the people who go to the games as being “bandwagoners”, solely based on the fact they are in the Stanley Cup Finals or the fact they hand out the rules and chants pregame.
Isn’t that how you grow a fan base or the love of the sport? How can they learn if we don’t teach them? See Section303.com.
I feel that Verizon Center is too quiet on a regular basis. Yes, it’s loud when goals are scored, but our barn should be loud ALL THE TIME. Players have said they can hear us yelling and feed off the energy. Why aren’t we doing that?
One of the reasons I believe this is an issue is because the attendance in some sections, especially mine, are so fluid. I hardly ever see the same people at the games. Why are we as season ticket holders selling our seats?
Why do we say that only postseason counts? If that’s what you believe then you are missing out on supporting your team through 42 home games.
Players need to be held accountable for their on ice performance AND we as fans need to be held accountable for the way in which we show our support.
Just like the players on the team need to adapt their game in order to continue to thrive in the NHL, I feel the entertainment aspect at Verizon Center needs to as well. You need to keep the crowd not only pumped during the game, but also between periods. Adapt the “standing only” areas and bring in bands. Musically taunt the other team when they are being introduced. Show hilarious memes when the zebras are taking forever and a day to review plays on something you need a magnifying glass to see.
I love seeing the Mighty Mites on the ice, but everything else seems repetitive and stale.
One idea would be to have the people employed at Verizon Center interact more with the fans in order to make it a more energetic and inviting environment. At times, it has more of a feel of a night-time date at the theater than a hockey game.
I’ve heard the Caps occasionally hold focus groups to try to improve the game atmosphere – infuse some new blood, willing to give ideas. Don’t be afraid to “push the envelope”. With any relationship you have to spice things up to keep it fresh. Perhaps we can all take a page from barns like Nashville, because what they are doing, clearly works.
By Lisa Desabrais
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This has been something I have ben thinking about also and I couldn’t agree with you more. To add on to that, we need to get rid of our “WOAH_OH!” goal song because it does not give the upbeat energetic feel that we should be feeling after goals. We need a new signature goal song that is enjoyable and that get’s the fans screaming. I think that also applies to stoppages in play and intermissions like you said where we need to hear better songs and see better entertainment.
I’m a Caps fan that lives in Nashville who was also a STH with the Caps for many seasons. Let me just say that I’m tickled that hockey is popular here but just understand that as soon as the Preds miss the playoffs again the bandwagon will empty. There is a nice core here of rabid hockey fans in the area but the entitled bandwagon fans are beyond annoying. The Nashville people only have the Preds and the Titans and the Titans have been god awful for years, so this is really only a one pro team sports town. Also like DC, Nashville is a very transient town with alot of Canadiens and Northerners living here who have adopted the Preds.
Quality insight, Steve. Thank you for sharing.
“but our barn should be loud ALL THE TIME”
I don’t disagree that the VZC could be louder, but I think what you are seeing in Nashville and some other non-traditional hockey venues are sometimes forced entertainment. I dont want the stadium to tell me when to cheer, I want our fans to react better to great play, or bad plays alike. Yell at the refs, cheer for a back check, standing ovations for the PK, cheer for shutouts, go nuts for hat tricks. What I dont want to see at VZC is a house DJ trying to fill the air (like PNC Carolina) or people watching TV of other games (NYR). I think we are moving in the right direction and are building a great hockey town, we just need everyone to show up at the games ready to go!
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