Saturday, October 18, 2008


A few days in the nation's capital and the pictures to prove it.

Actually, the only games in town during the week was a Washington Capitals tilt with the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night and a D.C. United game at RFK Stadium on Thursday. Having arrived at the hotel late on Monday, there was no way I was in the mindset to rush over to the Capitals game (though apparently, it was a goodie) and a chance to dive into some BBQ-basted wings had a greater priority over the United's win over the New England Revolution.

With that said, I was able to check out a couple of the city's sporting venues. The first slideshow is of the Verizon Center. The former MCI Center is celebrating its tenth anniversary and there may not be a better time to do so. The Capitals are enjoying a huge popularity boost off of superstar forward Alexander Ovechkin and the success of last season (which included the Southeast Division title and a tooth-and-nail first round playoff series with Philadephia). The Wizards have made four straight playoff appearances with one of the NBA's top trios in Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas. While no one knows what this year will bring to the capital city, the Center is starting to enjoy the windfall of the teams' successes.

Verizon Center

The second slideshow features Nationals Park, home of the city's baseball franchise. Having just opened this year, the Nationals enjoyed an average of 30,000 fans coming to the park and having its own home for years to come. Moving from Montreal not-too-long-ago, the Nationals built this beautiful park along the Anacosta River, but not without controversy. Even if the team is a long way from becoming a playoff contender (thought they are better than many baseball pundits predicted), the organization is run by Stan Kasten, one of the architects of the Atlanta Braves' dominance in the nineties. As they try to rebuild the farm system and open up the wallets a bit, the park will do what Camden Yards in Baltimore hasn't done; keep fans coming.

Nationals Park

Both facilities have this in common; the architecture is woven into the city. The brick and layouts are similar to the city's famous monuments. They are essentially large squares and devoid of a ton of glitz and pizzaz, but aestetically clean.

What stuck out the most about the Verizon Center was how it looks like a cross between a block-wide office building and a shopping mall. You have a gym, a Dunkin Donuts and some other stores mixed in with the ticket booths and Metro station. Considering that this is also the Chinatown area, there is always some sort of crowd in the area - tourists visiting the various museums and locals at some of the eateries or shopping around - compared to other arenas in the country that are not surrounded by anything other than parking lots.

As for Nationals Park, this is the only baseball park accessible... by bike? The team build bike racks all around the stadium and even has a bike valet built into the stadium. I enjoyed the home plate entrance as it pays homage to the city's baseball history with both Senators franchises (both which became the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers). Thanks to one of the tour guides/ushers (Frank, I didn't forget you), I was able to get a couple of photos near the field. As we talked, he mentioned that HOK Sport borrowed elements of two of their other stadiums, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and Pittsburgh's PNC Park. Can you see which ones?

At some point, captions will be added to all photos so that each has a greater context. However, I'm on my way to Atlantic City for tonight's Pavlik-Hopkins fight (expect a post about that very early tomorrow morning before heading to the Giants game). Until then, stay tuned.

Say What?!?!: Speaking of those Wizards, this is one of the best online ticket sales promotions you will ever see.

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