The Washington Capitals hosted the annual season ticket holder party at the Smithsonian National The Museum of Natural History. The event has been held at Six Flags and the National Zoo in previous years so fans were pretty excited about the new venue. The night was a bit of a mixed bag – some fun and some disappointments.
The night started when fans lined up outside starting as early as 5 pm when the doors weren’t due to open until 6:30. The lines were long but they moved fairly quickly, for the most part.Once inside visitors were given a map with symbols indicating where players would be for photo opportunities or autographs. Unfortunately, the map didn’t tell you who was where so it was a bit of a mystery as fans wondered around looking for lines.
Wrist braclets were available for fans wanting pictures or autographs with Braden Holtby or Alex Ovechnkin, provided they had signed up earlier through Monmental Rewards. Alex was paired with Dmitry Orlov and Holtby with Taylor Chorney. Fans were pretty excited for the chance to meet these superstars, although many commented that they wished the could have had individual pictures with each player rather than the combined shots.
The night was a bit rushed as fans fought to find the right line. Unlike previous years the players shifted signing tables. For example, some fans were in the very long line for T.J. Oshie, Zach Sanford, and Matt Niskanen when all of the sudden they left and were replaced by Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle, and Nate Schmidt. The movement of players seemed to add to the confusion. Those fortunate enough to get through the lines were pretty excited to have a chance to say “hello” to favorite players and get their autographs. Many, however, were left disappointed (putting it mildly).
There were plenty of bag lunches, beverages, and cookies around the museum. Good thing because there seemed to be more fans than in previous years. It might have been because the venue was smaller and fans were in a more confined place. Additionally, the focus was clearly on photos and autographs with nothing else to do. In the other venues the fans and players seemed to intermingle more. There were rides and things to do. And we missed seeing the players families. This venue was missing some of the fun element!
As we walked out with other fans we heard them talking about sore feet and wishing they had been able to sit down more. Some were excited about the evening but most were just plain tired. Parking was a challenge. With Metro and all its problems, many fans drove and parked several blocks away. Flipping through Twitter, it’s clear a lot of fans were unhappy and left early.
All-in-all it was a good night. Friends of the Capitals had time together as community and for many it was the only chance they had to meet their players up close and personal. However, we, along with many fans, hope they will go find a better place next year!!