About four weeks before the NHL paused the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, my dad and I went out West to see the Washington Capitals face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale and the Vegas Golden Knights in Sin City. The tickets were a Christmas present I had been hoping for. In this two-part series, NoVa Caps reviews each arena, concluding with T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which could be a neutral site to resume the rest of the season. You can read the review of Gila River Arena here.
Ever since the Golden Knights came into the NHL in 2017, I have wanted to go to Las Vegas for a Capitals game. In previous years, the Capitals were in Nevada around Christmas or on a weeknight. But with this year’s game on President’s Day, we were finally able to go this year.
After an early breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning in Phienix, my dad and I hit the road for Vegas, which was only an hour flight. Our plane touched down at McCarron International around 8:30 AM PT. We went out for a few hours to walk the strip and see the sights, and we went to T-Mobile Arena to check out the scene and into the gift store. In addition to Golden Knights gear, the store included a bunch of hockey sticks and a medium-sized knight wearing a golden helmet. As we do at every NHL arena we visit, we bought an official game puck.
Before puck drop the next day, my dad and I ate lunch at Eataly at the Park MGM, which was right next to T-Mobile Arena. We both had pasta and oh boy, they had the best tomatoes and pesto I have ever had. Vegas has some of the best food in the country and it almost feels like the food is actually made in Italy (or wherever it’s from) and flown in fresh. There were a lot of Capitals and Golden Knights fans in the Park MGM and sitting at the restaurant, including the couple right next to us. The restaurant even had a game day menu when the Golden Knights are in action.
After lunch, we went down to Toshiba Plaza where T-Mobile Arena is located. It was packed and had a DJ booth and a big screen behind it. Right next to that was a giant inflatable knight helmet.
T-Mobile Arena opens their doors in an epic way: on the screen at the top of the arena’s exterior, they start a countdown beginning at 60 seconds and open their doors at the end of it with the sound of the loud and booming Golden Knights goal horn.
The scene inside the arena was spectacular. It had a castle with banners for each of the 31 teams hovering above it (the Eastern Conference on the left and the Western Conference on the right). Above that was a picture of the Las Vegas skyline.
Elsewhere, they had three banners hanging in the rafters: one for the 2017-18 Pacific Division Champions, another for the 2017-18 Western Conference Champions, and one with 58 stars honoring the victims of the shooting at a concert across from the Mandalay Bay Resort on October 1, 2017, just prior to the start of their inaugural season.
At warmups, the Golden Knights had show girls who danced behind the glass at the Capitals’ end to try to distract them prior to puck drop. The music was the loudest I’ve probably ever heard at a sporting event and it felt like the floor was vibrating through my feet. Before warmups, there was a gigantic balloon taking video around the arena.
After warmups, we went to our seats for the .
“>pregame show, which was ridiculous. They started another countdown and killed the lights for a laser show, a “knight fight,” an opening video, and the Golden Knights’ entrance. There were also drummers up in the castle.
When the national anthem was done, the Golden Knights had a siren that they had a guest sound to get everyone hyped for puck drop before the start of each period.
The Golden Knights did a great job of getting their fans in the game with booming music and lots of chants, including “shame, shame, shame” whenever a Capitals took a penalty to put the Golden Knights on the power play. They occasionally had one of “cheaters never win” when the Capitals did took a penalty. After the PA announcer called the Capitals penalty, he finished with “that means your Golden Knights are on the NV Energy …” and the fans would yell “power-play!” The fans were very devoted and enthusiastic. Because the Golden Knights were the city’s first professional sports franchise, the city is all-in on the team.
18,399 fans, including a many in red, attended the game. T-Mobile Arena has a capacity of 20,000.
Since my dad and I went to lunch before with all of the fantastic restaurant options in Las Vegas, we did not eat at the game, but some options we saw around included Shake Shack, Pizza Forte, Pink’s Hotdogs, and Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque.
Our seats were a few rows behind the net where the Capitals shot on twice and the seats were relateively roomy and comfortable with good legroom.
Overall, Las Vegas is one of my favorite cities to visit with all of the good food, entertainment, and activities. My dad and I had a blast in Vegas even though the Capitals fell short and Ovechkin once again failed to score his 700th career NHL goal. Afterward, we agreed that we both wanted to return to see the Capitals at T-Mobile Arena again next year if our respective schedules allow for it. I would definitely recommend going to T-Mobile Arena if you’re looking for a road trip with plenty of other things to do.
By Harrison Brown