Friends in (Slightly Further) Places; Prudential Center

Two weeks ago, I attended my very first Capitals’ away game at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. Following my trip, I wrote up a ‘summary review’ of my experiences and the arena itself. The Capitals ultimately won that game, 5-3, and reclaimed their top spot in the Metro division.

Last night, I took a solo road trip to Newark, New Jersey, to watch our reigning Stanley Cup Champions take on the New Jersey Devils. I purchased my ticket about a week ago, and sat in the last row (23) of Section 13 (lower bowl), behind the Caps’ shoot twice goal. I paid just $38 on TickPick (no fees!). Much to my surprise, a friend that I had met through the Linkin Park Underground chatroom was also attending the game, so we finally met up, in person, before the game at the Dinosaur BBQ. From D.C. the drive is just about 3 1/2 hours, without stops. Prudential Center, otherwise loving referred to as ‘The Rock’ by Devils’ fans, is situated in the center of Newark, very similarly to Capital One Arena. There are two main general entrances, as designated by the all-glass rotundas on either end of Lafayette Street.

Pictured: Lafayette Street Entrances

Built in 2007, the arena is just over 10 years old, and is beautiful, inside and out. Boasting the largest jumbotron in the NHL, at any given time, players for both teams would be indicated, and during commercial breaks, they would show scores around the league as well as Vegas betting odds. Possibly related to the nickname of ‘the Rock’, and Bruce Springsteen, the arena DJ mixed almost exclusively rock music. Despite hearing the goal horn just once for the Devils, it was not nearly as deafening as Wells Fargo Center. However, it did command your attention at any time during the game.

Pictured: A View from My Seat (and the JUMBO jumbotron)

There were LOTS of Capitals fans in attendance. While both teams sport red as their primary color, it was very easy to pick out the Caps jerseys.

Refreshingly, the New Jersey fans were gracious and kind. Unlike in Philly, we were not boo’ed at, or thrown the usual “Ovechkin Sucks!” chants while walking through the concourse. In my section, there was no chirping or trash talking to speak of (I’ve actually heard more of that from NJD fans at Capital One when we’ve played the Devils). Well, except for when Tom Wilson existed. Then they would ‘boo’. The Devils’ fans would start and join in on “Lets go Devils!” chants and eagerly participated in commercial break/intermission entertainment, which was nice to see. Despite only having a handful of Caps’ fans surrounding me, when we scored, it was easy to see just how many were in the building. My only complaint was related to when the opposition scores a goal; the goal light was slightly delayed, and from my seat (probably not an issue elsewhere) it was difficult to see when a goal was scored. Any questions I may have had, those around me were more than willing to answer, and converse further. I even got directions to the closest Tim Hortons. Both Devils and Caps fans began to empty out of the arena noticeably sooner than I’ve observed elsewhere, despite the fact there was over half of a period left to be played. When I stated, “There’s still 10 minutes left for you to tie it”, the New Jersey fans around me admitted, “Nah, no way, not with this team,”. At the end of the night, I again shook hands with those in my row and in front of me, and we parted ways.

With losses by the Islanders, the Penguins, the Flyers, and the Blue Jackets, and a 4-1 win over the Devils, the Capitals were able to snag that top spot, once again, in the Metropolitan division. With the win, the Caps closed out the season series against New Jersey, having won 3 of 4.

Although it was just a short day trip to and from Newark, NJ, I intend on returning to Prudential Center in the future. Likely before Wells Fargo Center ($$$). You just cannot beat the ticket prices, the location/ease of access, and the general pleasant nature of the hometown fans.

My ratings for Prudential Center are as follows:

Parking: 10/10 (I reserved my parking ahead of time, and only paid $12 for the evening, but there are a plethora of other lot options, as well as street parking).

Security: 9/10 (much more lenient on what is permitted, such as posters, but they were thorough when searching peoples’ bags. Pro tip: don’t bring them).

Concourses: 9/10 (once entering the arena, you have to go up a set of escalators to reach the main concourse, very well-maintained, not crowded at all during intermissions).

Prices: ?/10 (could not comment).

Sound System: 8/10 (Loud, but not obnoxious, on par with most other venues.)

Jumbotron: 10/10 (Largest in the NHL, didn’t block view of ice, lots of screens for additional information, similar to Wells Fargo, shows who is on the ice at any given time).

Seats: 9/10 (good size, the cup holders were weirdly situated closer to one seat than the other, comfortable.).

Intermission Entertainment: 9/10 (No mites-on-ice, lots of fun mini-games, but a lot going on, unique commercial break fan interactions (i.e. emojicam, air guitar/air drum dance contests, digital skeeball, Ric Flair video montage ‘wooooo’s’)

Hometown Fans: 10/10 (Every single person I interacted with was kind, gracious, and respectful. It didn’t matter what team you were cheering for, both sides respected one another, as well as the players i.e. everyone in the building commented on that amazing save by Blackwood in the third period).

OVERALL RATING: 9.25/10

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