Last year we (my husband and myself) went on our first Caps road trip to Nashville (you can read the review here) and had such a great time we decided we would cheer on the team in a different barn at least once a year.
This year’s schedule made it hard to fly to any game, so on a whim two weeks ago, we bought tickets to the Hurricanes/Capitals game in North Carolina, since it’s only a four and a half hour drive for us.
As we were driving towards the parking area, we noticed a lot of people were walking from other parking areas. Strange until we went closer and saw that parking was $20.00 per vehicle; which is comparable to D.C. but perhaps a bit high for the area. We are never afraid of a long walk but the threat of rain pushed us to splurge because the idea of turning into a popsicle while watching the game wasn’t appealing. We met fellow Capitals fans who made the trek in from Richmond who told us on nice days you will see people tailgating before the game.
Going through security before having our tickets scanned was a little more “relaxed” then what we are used to in DC, more than likely a product of not being in a major metropolitan city. Upon entering, we also received a promotional flyer with player and team stats from both teams leading up to the game. Note to Kuzy: you need to score more and take less penalties.
I have to admit, I was surprised at the number of Capitals jerseys we saw as we were walking around the arena. PNC Arena is comprised of three sections: 100 level, 200 level, which is all private suites, and 300 or upper level. We bought re-sell tickets in section 121 three rows (defend side twice) off of the ice for $150.00 a piece plus fees. (In comparison to home prices a fairly decent deal). In hindsight, it would have been better to be closer to the attack side at an away game if you’re closer to the glass so you can better see the boys scoring on the other team. Part of the problem too; well not really a problem, is there were so many Caps fans there that at times I thought Canes fans were yelling because of a great save when in reality our boys had scored!
Before warmups we toured the facility to compare the shops and food with what we have back home. I have to say, we were totally impressed with the food selections (and prices) and the hubby loved the fact there was a selection of micro brews to select from.
We settled on a freshly cut and made to order prime rib sandwich which consisted of a pound of meat, homemade chips, and horseradish sauce, which by the way cost 14.00 for season ticket holders and 16.00 for us. To quote a restaurant I saw being advertised on our drive down it was ” shut yo mouf” AMAZING. It was more food than I could eat , (has anyone ever said that about Capital One Arena) so we should have shared and then gone for the freshly-made waffle cone bowl with home made ice cream. I chatted with our seatmates about the amazing food and prices and was told “welcome to the country”.
One thing I noticed both in Nashville and Raleigh is the fans don’t do much yelling whether it be for encouragement or in disagreement of something that happened on the ice. Since I was considered a guest, I didn’t do my usual routine of loudly talking to the boys during the game; something my husband appreciated since he usually has to lean away from me or keep a finger in his ear closest to me. It’s actually pretty quiet until someone scores a goal or the opposing team is penalized. One thing for sure though, the team knew we were there in large number supporting them and I feel they were able to feed off our energy. We had a college student and his father that are both from North Carolina sitting next to us. This was the second hockey game both had ever attended. By the end of the game, I had the younger of the two high-fiving and cheering on the Capitals, not the home team, sorry guys HA!
As one of our boys was sitting in the sin bin, a camera was focused on them and “cheaters never win” came across the Jumbotron and the crowd yelled in unison. Just like in Nashville, they taunted our team in ways I actually found funny. You know you’re in the south when yeehaw is yelled after every goal. What I also thought was a great idea, and wished the Capitals would do , was the fact that each player’s time on ice from both teams was displayed and continuously updated digitally along with the usual hits and faceoff wins, etc. A local band was featured between periods ( a little hard to hear) and business-sponsored seat upgrades and games in the stands were done as well. The music during the game and between periods was great and we never had to struggle to hear or understand what was being said during interviews and in game announcements.
One thing I found odd was the fact the team benches weren’t big enough to fit the backup goalies. I saw the legs of the ‘Canes goalie hiding behind the Gatorade cooler and poor Holtby was relegated to watching the game from the other side of the ice. The quote from Dirty Dancing “no one sits Baby (or Holtby)” in this instance kept running through my head.
The game was certainly a nail-biter and we were thrilled the outcome favored our team. Although no hotels were within walking distance like D.C., it was great not having the traffic going into or leaving the game.
I encourage any Caps fan to attend an away game if it is within your budget to do so. PNC Arena was beautiful, the staff was pleasant, the fans (except for one sourpuss) were very cordial. At the end of the game the gentlemen in front of us congratulated us on a well-played game and said it’s all about enjoying the love of hockey, no matter who wins. We 100% percent agree, with the exception of THOSE teams whose names we never speak of in our barn.
We definitely plan on attending another Caps away game at PNC arena because of the close proximity. As the saying goes, “the first visit you’re a guest, the next time you’re family so we won’t be hard to find: I’ll be the one now screaming and my husband will be the one with the earplugs!
By Lisa Desabrais