Passion for basketball has returned to the Washington D.C. era and the Verizon Center is kicking off with energy for Wizards games these days. The young stars John Wall & Bradley Beal have brought playoff games to Washington D.C. and those likely aren’t going away anytime soon. Easily located in downtown D.C., there’s no reason you shouldn’t be attending a Wizards game, especially if one of the NBA’s best teams comes to visit.
Tickets & Seating Areas
The recent success of the Wizards have seen some of the ticketing inventory disappear from the primary market, but there are still plenty of good seats available because the Wizards aren’t the most popular team in town. When tickets are available, you can buy them online at Ticketmaster, via the phone, or at the Verizon Center box office. Sometimes you may want to go to the secondary market for better seats or for tickets to a sold out game. Obviously, you also have the well-known options like Stubhub and NBA Tickets (the Wizards have tickets sold by season ticket holders built into each game’s Ticketmaster page) or a ticket aggregator (a website that aggregates all of the secondary ticket sites except Stubhub) like SeatGeek and TiqIQ, which both have a decent amount of inventory from broker season tickets.
The Wizards dynamically price their single-game tickets in the 100 Level (aka Lower Level). That means the price per ticket is adjusted regularly by the team based on inventory, opponent, day of the week, and Wizards current success. As for where to sit when you go, basketball is a sport best seen in the Lower Level. If you’re looking for some Club amenities with your tickets, you’ll have to buy someone’s season tickets that include Club access because that doesn’t come with anything you’ll buy on Ticketmaster.
The Wizards also offer two all-inclusive ticket options. The Budweiser Brew House package comes with a ticket in the Acela Club Level (located in between the Lower and Upper levels) a t-shirt, and an all-inclusive buffet with unlimited beer, wine and soda through the end of the third quarter. (Fans can choose seats in the center, baseline, or corner areas depending on how much they want to spend.) The second and less expensive package for the 400 Level Lounge includes the same amenities of a t-shirt, buffet, and drinks with a ticket in Upper Level.
Getting to the Verizon Center is incredibly easy because of its location in Washington, D.C. There are many different Metro lines that take you there. The Green, Red, and Yellow lines all go to the Gallery Place-Chinatown stop, which is located right underneath the Verizon Center. They also drop passengers off at Judiciary Square (Red) and Archives-Navy Memorial Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow), which are two stations within walking distance. The Orange and Blue lines take you to Metro Center, which is also within walking distance of the arena.
Parking Panda has partnered with the Verizon Center to help fans locate parking near the arena if they chose to drive to the game. It’s pretty easy to find the Verizon Center in in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood, but directions are provided on Verizon Center website. Of course there’s always a taxi or Uber if you’re running late. Maybe you’ll even walk if it’s a nice day outside.
Pregame & Postgame Fun
There are plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the Verizon Center. The two busiest bars closest to the Verizon Center are Redline and Rocket Bar. Redline is an upscale sports bar with a pretty wide variety of good food on the menu. Rocket Bar is much more casual, offering up pool and shuffleboard for those looking for activities. Penn Commons on the north side of the arena has a really good food and beer selection with Tuk Tuk wings and burgers being what you want to focus on. RFD might be the best place for beer since it has 30+ beers on taps and over 300 types in bottles.
You’ll find some other options a few blocks away. Fado offers your typical Irish bar experience. Irish Channel is another Irish spot that’s more divey and has good buffalo wings. Penn Quarter Sports Tavern is the best sports bar near the Verizon Center for watching games before and after your Verizon Center experience. Chow down on the quesadillas or the buffalo chicken wrap to satisfy your hunger.
Hill Country Barbecue got its acclaim in New York City, but its D.C. location is just as good as the original. You’ll be filling up your plate with brisket and ribs along with a side of mac ‘n cheese. The best burger you can find is at Plan B Burger Bar. They offer some unique takes on burgers including versions representing Philadelphia and New England. (Yes, the New England version has lobster on it.) Since we are in Chinatown after all, we’d be remiss to leave out New Big Wong, which offers the best Congee (Chinese rice porridge) in the area along with really good American-Chinese standards. Top Chef alum Mike Isabella serves up good Italian food at Graffiato, especially when it comes to pizza and meatballs.
Move on to page two for more information about attending a Washington Wizards game.
At the Game
The first thing to do when going to a Wizards game is to download the Verizon Center app for your cell phone. The interactive map allows you to find concessions stands and browse their menus more easily. I’m a sucker for Chick-Fil-A, so it’s great that the Verizon Center offers those great chicken sandwiches. That’s something you won’t find at many other arenas, but you can grab them outside of Sections 116 and 422 or from a vendor walking through the crowd. Hard Times Cafe is a local favorite because of the Frito pie (think of nacho chips replaced by Fritos and covered with chili and cheese). If barbecue is what you’re after, check out the BBQ Pit outside of Section 229 for some dynamite nachos with either BBQ pork or BBQ chicken. The pulled pork sandwich is solid too.
Butcher Shop outside of Section 214 has a wide variety of sandwiches including a few served on pretzel buns. The DC Sliders stand outside of Section 111 serves up a wide variety of options including burger, chicken parm, and meatball sliders. Unfortunately when it comes to pizza, you’ll have to deal with Papa John’s as Verizon Center has an exclusive deal with the chain to serve its pies.
There are a few places in the arena to indulge yourself with some quality beer. Monumental Brews outside of Section 421 has beer and wine with Goose Island, Stella Cidre, and Landshark being the less conventional options. Sausage and Brews near Section 107 has a wider variety of options including Redhook Longer Hammer IPA, Spaten Lager, Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale, and Heritage IPA. You can even get a glass of Bulleit bourbon there.
Where to Stay
If you make it in from out of town for the game, there are plenty of hotels downtown for you to enjoy. It doesn’t really matter where you stay because it’s so easy to get around, but you’re probably better off near Washington Circle or something north or east of the White House. Every brand name you can think of exists like Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Westin. If you want to stay within walking distance to the Verizon Center there’s the Grand Hyatt or the Courtyard. Hipmunk can help you find the best hotel for your needs. Alternatively, you can look into renting an apartment via AirBNB, HomeAway, or VRBO.