We have been stalking following Caps players at Kettler Iceplex for a few years now. Last year we gave you some hints on where to stand and how to get photos and autographs of your favorite players.
In this article we want to give you a visual presentation of Kettler Iceplex that we hope will help you navigate the complex in Ballston/Arlington, Virginia.
Finding Kettler Iceplex
So first things first: The Washington Capitals (an occasionally visiting teams) practice most mornings when they are in town on the top deck of Ballston Common Mall, 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22203. You can enter the complex via the parking garage either from Glebe Road or N, Randolph Street. You will know you are there by the Caps player banners which hang from the rooftop.
The mall is undergoing a major renovation and there is no place to hang-out in the mall or eat. There are several places nearby and we will cover those in a future post. For now, plan on grabbing some coffee and light breakfast or lunch at the Caps Cafe run by EcoCaterers. There are a few vending machines in the Arlington Rink and Capitals Rink near the elevator. Oh and that’s where the ATM machine can be found.
Parking is $1.00 for the first three hours and can be paid by cash or credit card either at a machine as you exit Kettler or when you exit the garage.
We tend to park on the top level right outside the entrance to Kettler and the Capitals offices. It gets crowded fast so you might consider parking on the seventh or sixth floor garage and taking the elevator up to the rink.
If you park on the rooftop you will first see the huge CAPITALS sign over the offices. This is NOT where you want to enter! In fact those doors are usually locked. However, this IS where the players will enter and exit. Follow the path to the public entrance for Kettler.
Inside Ketter Iceplex
Enter in through the regular Kettler Iceplex doors, walk past the team store, and enter in the double doors to the Capitals Ice Rink.
Once in the rink you may sit in the bleachers, stand around the glass from the floor level, or stand in the corner next to the press box where players frequently stop and sign autographs.
Occasionally, especially during camp, the team will practice on the “Arlington Rink.” This is the open skating rink which you can actually skate on during open skate at Kettler or where you can sign up to take skate lessons too.
There is an upper level in both rinks if you want to look down on practice. Just keep in mind that if you are taking photographs you will have the net in most of your pictures.
Speaking of taking photographs during practice: the glass is pretty scratched up. It is not like Verizon Center and it is hard to find a clear spot for great photos. Hunt around, find a spot, and then don’t move!! It’s a game we play—find the open spot and guard it with our lives!
Practice is a lot of fun. You can get up close to see the players interacting. You get a chance to see those great expressions we are always posting for you. And you have a chance to talk more with the Caps and hockey community.
The short advice we offer is to stand outside of the Capital’s offices and wait, and wait, and wait some more. It takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes for the players to exit. Keep an eye through the glass and you will see and his the caterers for the team running food over for lunch. Usually we gage about 30 minutes after that before players exit.
There are a few good places for autographs. Inside the Capitals Rink on the side near the media room and podium. This is harder because not all the players will stop and usually the people who get there first stay until everyone is off the ice. But give it a shot. Holtby will frequently stop there.
Next best bet is the rooftop in front of the Capital’s office in front of the single door to the left of the revolving doors. They seldom come out the revolving doors, but you never know!
Then we have the garage level. The Caps have a few ways to get to there vehicles. They frequently come out the door on level 7. They usually park right in front of the door or on the side.
And then there are those players who park on levels six and below. Those are the guys who would prefer not stopping to sign autographs and we recommend letting them get away peacefully. Some players just prefer not to stop or to only stop occasionally, and that’s ok with us.
Our recommendation is to respect the players, to respect their time, and to respect them if they are running and can’t stop. There are times they have other commitments or maybe like us, they just want to get home to their families.
Try to only have one thing to sign. Ask them to take selfies or pose and have someone take the picture. They will do both.
Don’t climb on their cars, lean on their cars, or chase their cars. Treat their property as you would want someone to treat your property.
Respect the privacy of the families. NEVER take photos or publish them without asking–especially of their children. We always ask permission to publish and most of the time they say yes.
We are really fortunate here in the DMV because we have great access to our players. We believe they are the best guys in the league and they love meeting their fans as much as we enjoy meeting them.
Here is the link to our previous article that might give you more details:
Enjoy your time at Kettler – and look around. You never know who you might see in the stands or just walking around, including family (Mrs. Ovi) or the press (Jill Sorenson, CSN) or alumni players like Olie Kolzig!