Editors' pick

Verizon Center


Editorial Review

A step or two off of the Red Line at Gallery Place-Chinatown takes sports fans and concertgoers to an escalator pulling them right up to the Verizon Center (formerly known as the MCI Center). Three other Metro stops -- Judiciary Square, Metro Center and Archives-Navy Memorial -- are only a short stroll away.

Events are normally scheduled to end before midnight to allow adequate time for patrons to take the Metro home. Metro service is extended when delays or overtime games occur. For more information about Metro service, call 202-637-7000 or check the Metro's Web site at http://rideguide.wmata.com/.

The best way to get to the Verizon Center is by Metro. If you must drive, parking will be an issue. While the Verizon Center's Web site optimistically announces that there are approximately 10,000 parking spaces available in the area, parking can still be difficult to find. Open from 7 a.m. to midnight daily, the Verizon Center's parking garage (which has 475 parking spaces and elevator access to the center) is located at Sixth and G streets NW. For more information about parking there, call 202-628-3200.

Area parking generally costs around $20 to $30 per event.

The arena's interior claims to seat up to 20,000, depending on the venue. Acoustically, the sound system works clearly, though some fans may find it muted in some spots. Throughout, sightlines -- even in the steep upper levels -- are excellent, although fans sitting that high up may find the somewhat constrictive seating reminding them of an airplane's coach section. That may not be the case for pricier seats at the lower levels. Just be careful standing up and cheering for that dunk, that goal, or that encore if you do have a nosebleed seat -- you may find yourself trying to regain balance on the narrow concrete walkways.

Game and event tickets are available at the Verizon Center box office inside the main entrance at 601 F St. NW; by phone at 202-397-7328 (202-661-5061 for group tickets); or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com. A service fee generally applies to phone and online sales. Children ages 3 and older must have a ticket to attend sporting events. Some non-sporting events may require a ticket for younger children. The box office is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and during events. During events, tickets may also be purchased at booths located at the Seventh and G Street NW entrance.

Will Call tickets can be picked up any time the box office is open until the game's start time. You must present the credit card used to make the purchase and photo identification.

Those interested in renting executive suites or Acela Club seats for Washington Wizards games should call 202-661-5110 or e-mail rmoreland@washsports.com.

Those in need of accessible seating should contact the Office of Accessible Seating/Services at 202-661-5065, 202-661-5066 (TTY) or e-mail accessibleseating@washsports.com.

Security Issues
Bags, briefcases, luggage and similar items are not allowed inside the arena. Patrons carrying these items will be denied entry. Each patron is allowed to carry in one personal item no more than 13 inches long, 9 1/2 inches tall and six inches wide. These items are subject to search. Handheld cameras without a flash are the only cameras allowed for basketball and hockey games. Other events may have their own camera policies. Call ahead to find out.

Nearby Restaurants and Bars
You'll find plenty of places to eat in and around the Verizon Center. Inside the center itself are Nick and Stef's Steakhouse with mostly American-style food and the F Street Sports Bar.

You'll also find a variety of restaurants nearby. At the corner of Seventh and E streets, Jaleo is known for its Spanish tapas, sangria and energetic atmosphere. Families may enjoy the less expensive, Tex-Mex-style Austin Grill on E Street. Those in the mood for fine dining can try Eighth Street's Cafe Atlantico with its mix of Mexican, Latin American and Spanish cuisines. Across the street from Cafe Atlantico is the quieter pan-Asian diner and pastry shop Teaism.