Friends in (Not So) Far Places; Wells Fargo Center

Yesterday, March 6th, 2019, was my 25th birthday. Coincidentally, our Washington Capitals took a short train ride up to Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia Flyers, hoping to extend their four-game win streak. Despite having attended nearly 70 Caps games over the last three years, I had never attended an away game. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to finally watch my favorite team take on a division rival in a barn that ISN’T Capital One Arena. Thanks to a friend of mine (whom I met through the Capitals), we snagged tickets through the Caps Road Crew, booked an Airbnb, and drove up to the City of Brotherly Love.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Philly sports fans; how they’ll trash talk you, throw beer at you, and challenge you to meet them “out back after the game”. How they’ll burn their city, win or lose. With that being said, I am a strong believer that if you go into a situation looking for issues, you’ll find them. I personally just wanted to have a good time in a city I haven’t visited since that 6th grade field trip, in a new arena, and watch the Caps snag a win for my birthday. From DC, the trip is only about 2 1/2 hours, without traffic. Side note: if you’re ever in Philly, and want to try something new, Banana Leaf is a hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant, and it was INCREDIBLE. Donning our jerseys, we set out on an adventure. After visiting a number of local sports bars, per locals’ recommendations, and befriending a handful of Flyers’ fans, we jumped on a free shuttle (shout out to Chickie & Pete’s) to Wells Fargo Center, thus officially entering ‘enemy territory’.

I’ll be honest with you, I truthfully didn’t know what to expect. I prefer to let my experiences speak for themselves, rather than rumors and anecdotal stories from others. While in line, we were lightly harried for wearing ‘Crapitals’ jerseys, but once we thanked them for beating Pittsburgh in the Stadium Series, it didn’t last. There’s nothing quite like a mutual distaste for a team to bring rivals together, eh? Once inside, we headed down to the glass for the pregame skate. Everyone I interacted with, Flyers fans and Caps fans, were wonderful. First of all, the new sound system at Wells Fargo Center…? Yeah, we need that at Capital One Arena. It is loud, it is reverberating, and it is deafening. There was A LOT of red in Wells Fargo, which was amazing to see. Being so close to DC, it is so easy to just drive up to Philly for a game. At times, our chants were louder than the home team. The cheers for Caps’ goals were LOUD. It seemed as though Flyers fans didn’t truly start ‘cheering’ until they scored their 3rd goal. But they BOO’ed. A lot. Despite being surrounded by Flyers’ fans, there was no name-calling, no beer-flinging. As someone who attends A LOT of hockey games, I am not bothered by the casual chirping and trash talking. We had started a “Let’s Go Caps!” chant, and was just told to “shut the f**k up”. No big deal. Some may be bothered by that, so if you’re easily triggered, I’d recommend you watch from the comfort of your own home. I, however, draw the line at targeting a single person. Generalized cheers and jeers are are just a part of hockey.

The only issue we had all night was a single woman a few seats down from us who took the chirps a little bit too far, and a man who screamed some unintelligible nonsense at us with three minutes left in the game. Belligerently, she began to swear at us, making excuses for her behavior because its ‘her house’ (which to an extent is acceptable). What at first was innocent haggling evolved into targeted ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’. Maturely, we were non-reactive. Regardless of venue, when you go to watch a hockey game (or any event), the best way you can respond to harassment, is to not respond at all. The row of guys in front of us would trash talk, we’d trash talk back, but at the end of the night, we shook hands and parted ways. We got some “Ovechkin Sucks!” and “Holtby Sucks!” chants, but that was to be expected. We sat in the lower bowl with the Caps Road Crew, so I assume we would have had more issues if we had sat in the upper levels. Again, if you’re looking for trouble, you will certainly find it. However, if you are simply looking to enjoy a good hockey game, and aren’t easily upset, I would recommend Wells Fargo Center to any hockey fan. The best part of all, the Capitals won 5-3 on the road, and extended their streak to 5 wins, and are again first in the Metropolitan. Overall, I would chalk this up to a positive experience, and I absolutely intend on returning to Wells Fargo Center in the future.

My ratings for Wells Fargo Center are as follows:

Parking: 4/10 (we took a shuttle to the arena but it looked like a massive logistical nightmare trying to leave WFC).

Security: 10/10 (they’re strict with what is allowed in [posters under 14×14, no flags, noisemakers], but they were super efficient and appeared to like their job).

Concourses: 8/10 (the upper concourse was recently renovated, but I didn’t see it, so I’m rating the lower level concourse. It is older, but it’s much larger and not as crowded, even during intermissions).

Prices: 6/10 (overpriced, but typical for the event).

Sound System: 10/10 (I would rate it higher if I could. Recently updated, deafening, reverberating, definitely the best part of the arena).

Jumbotron: 9/10 (large, presumably what the new Jumbotron will be like at Capital One Arena, cool information and statistics centrally located, didn’t obstruct view).

Seats: 5/10 (decently sized, but old and worn, and many were in the process of breaking).

Intermission Entertainment: 6/10 (two bouts of mites-on-ice, a performance by the cheer squad, and some weird commercial break games)

Hometown Fans: 8/10 (its Philadelphia, they’re passionate about their sports. There’s always that occasional bad apple wherever you go).

OVERALL RATING: 7.3/10

 

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