Friendly Scene Greets Game Three Attendees
By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 1998; Page D8
The thunderstorms graciously bowed out, and traffic was blocked off in front of MCI Center, turning F Street into Fun Street for Washington's first Stanley Cup final last night.
Two hours before game time, the block was packed with hockey fans young and old most with tickets to Game 3; many without.
The NHL supplied the giant inflatable Stanley Cup, which made a dramatic backdrop for family photos. There was also a giant inflatable goaltender and several portable hockey nets that offered fans a chance to test their slap shots on the pavement.
Judging by NHL jerseys, Washington Capitals fans vastly outnumbered Detroit Red Wings fans. But the red-clad Red Wings bunch held the edge in lung power, chanting "Let's Go Wings! Let's Go Wings!" Among them were the Fairs Ron, Laurie and Timmy who made the trip from Roseville, Mich. "We got tickets here," Laurie said, "and we can't get tickets in Detroit."
Scattered single seats for last night's game were available at the box office at noon. By 6:30 p.m., a sold-out sign had been posted, referring fans to the phone number for season tickets. Still, there were plenty of tickets available outside from men working cell phones and street corners. The general asking price: $150-$350.
A dog-eared ticket stub is the classic way of documenting attendance at a major event. Now, Adrian Gluck, the man who put holograms on trading cards, has developed a more compelling piece of evidence. It's called Surroundvision, and it made its MCI Center debut last night.
Gluck, a self-described "crazy inventor," explained how it works from behind a booth draped with a sign that read, "I WAS THERE!" Using digital technology and a fiber optic system, Gluck said, Surroundvision would photograph every person sitting at MCI Center with a robotic camera attached to the scoreboard within 30 minutes of the opening face-off. The cost: $15 (or $10 with a coupon).
Most often measured in decibels, home-ice advantage has its subtler aspects, too, such as familiar surroundings, doting fans and good-luck charms.
The Capitals were greeted with a standing ovation at yesterday's pregame skate by a crowd of several hundred who had gathered at their Piney Orchard training facility for the brisk and brief workout. Fans took pictures, clamored for autographs and put finishing touches on banners they planned to bring to MCI Center for Game 3.
In the players' locker room, goaltender Olaf Kolzig keeps a collection of pucks from games in which he earned a shutout. Peter Bondra's stall is decorated with a white sticker with the word, "Believe" in both English and Russian. The decal, and patches and T-shirts with the same motif, are common in Detroit. They're being sold to support the recovery efforts, both financially and spiritually, of Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov, who were critically injured in a limousine accident a year ago yesterday.
Not surprisingly, interest in the Washington Capitals Fan Club is growing with the team's success. Annual dues are $20 for families, $12 for adults and $10 for children, but are expected to increase after this season. For information, call club president Connie Schneider of New Market at 301-865-1191.
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