The Washington Capitals host practice at MedStar Capitals Ice Plex in Arlington Virginia. The sessions are all open to the public. Its a great way to see the players up close and there is even a chance you can meet them after practice.
Driving to MedStar
Things look a lot different around Ballston Common Mall these days. The mall is home to MedStar Ice Rink – home of the Washington Capitals organization and host of Caps Training Camp this week. And it is undergoing a major transformation which may impact your journey there.
Where to Go
Lets start at the beginning – the entrance to the parking garage is 627 N Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA 22203. Turn left into the garage if coming from Rt. 66 or right from Arlington/Alexandria on Glebe.
Or turn off Wilson Blvd. and onto N. Randolph St. and enter the garage on the right.
Full directions can be found by clicking here.
There is a gated ticket dispenser once you enter the garage. Push the button for your parking ticket. Rates are posted at the entry way. For your first three hours of practice it will only cost $1.00, if you are there all day it could cost up to $10.00 It is the best rate in the area!
(Practice usually runs between 60 and 90 minutes so you should be good paying $1 for parking.)
There is a pay machine in the entrance way if you want to pay before coming down the ramps–if it is working! Or you can pay either by credit card or cash on your way out. We find it just as easy to pay going out.
Ok, now pull forward to the stop sign and then begin the curvy drive up!
We recommend that you park on levels 6 and 7 and take the elevator to the rooftop rinks. The roof quickly fills up.
You can park on the ramps for those lower levels and walk through the cones to the elevator in the far corner.
Or you can walk up the stairs from lower levels. Access is limited while construction concludes.
Take the elevator to level 8 –it should say ‘Ice Rink’ and enter through the glass doors.
The first rink you find is known as the “Arlington Rink” and where public skating is usually available. Practice usually starts here and then the players move to the Caps rink. Morning Skate is always on the Caps Ice.
During training camp the team will use both rinks. Be sure to check the schedule.
Keep walking around the rink to the next set of doors and enter into the lobby. Here you will find skate rentals, information about skating classes, and most importantly Eco Cater’s Caps Cafe. They have some light fare for breakfast and lunch as well as a new expresso machine. Be sure to say “hello” to Chef Robert Wood if you see him.
There are bleachers available for viewing on the Caps rink. It is standing only on the Arlington Rink. Additionally, there is viewing from the upper level (just take the steps in the lobby or the elevator mid-way down the hall). The upper sections may be closed though for scouts or media. Be sure to look around- you never know who you will see- a GM or favorite sports writer!
Nancy Rogers, president of the Capitals Fan Club is there most days. Be sure to say “hello” and find out how to become a member of this fun group!
Photos and Autographs
If you want to get photos with players or have them sign your jersey, there are two primary ways these days. Gone are the days when all the players parked on the roof and willingly came over to sign autographs on their way to their cars. It is harder to get things signed as the Caps have increased security around the players since winning the Cup.
Here our suggestions after years of capturing the Caps leaving:
Rooftop Signing: Some players still park on the roof; however, the Caps have new set up a boundary area where they expect fans to wait for the players.
Some fans do go to the lower level for autographs but we encourage people not to bother players below level 7 of the garage. There are new signs warning against loitering and mall security may not let you wait for players. If they park lower it is because they don’t want to interact with fans.
Ice Rink Signing: Some of the players will come over to the area in front of the press room on the far side of the Capitals’ Rink. It is a gated area and can get pretty crowded. Try and move in and out to give everyone a chance. Braden Holtbyis great about stopping by.
About OVECHKIN. Ovi typically parks on the roof. Please don’t sit on his car or peek in the windows. Alex typically will not stop for photos or autographs. You may see him stop occasionally, but it is usually for a young child or someone he already knows, like the Fan Club. (or us!!) He normally will rush out and jump in the car to head home to his wife and baby! You can ask – but we will tell you he is not a fan of being yelled at or stalked so keep that in mind.
Alternative Parking Options
Finally, if you can’t find parking inside the Ballston Common garage, here is a link to other garages in the area from Parkopedia.
You can also take the Metro’s Orange and Silver line to Ballston and walk over to Glebe Road. If you are used to doing that and cutting through the NSF building, you should know that the walkway is no more! Be careful crossing the streets – pedestrians are open targets in Ballston!!
ROCK THE RED!!
PS: Where They Stay During Camp and Call Up From Hershey
Oh and if you are just hanging around Ballston, most of the prospects and visiting players stay at the Residence Inn a couple of blocks away. So don’t be surprised to see Ballston awash with hockey players!! Be sure to stop and make them feel welcome — and share your photos with us on twitter @incoldplacesdc