The $40 million renovation of Capital One Arena began the day of the Capitals' Stanley Cup parade in June and was completed just in time for the team’s banner-raising ceremony at its home opener last week. On Tuesday, Monumental Sports & Entertainment formally unveiled what’s new at the Chinatown venue, which will be old enough to drink come December.
“The goal of all the renovations was to improve the guest experience,” David Touhey, president of venues for MSE, said during a media tour. “So, visually from the time you walk in the door, it’s a new look on the concourse. The floors are new, the ceilings are new, the seats are new, the sound system is new.”
Some of the various food options on the 100- and 400-levels are new, too. David Chang’s Fuku, featuring a spicy fried chicken sandwich and jalapeno fries, debuts by Section 117. (Chick-fil-A fans will be happy to know the fast food chain will continue to sell its sandwiches by Sections 119 and 423.) Lucky Buns, a burger concept by local chef Alex McCoy, will have a permanent stand by Section 120. Launch Test Kitchen, located near Section 105, will feature a rotating selection of chefs and restaurateurs, beginning with Maria Menounos’s Greek Kitchen, with a menu including falafel waffle chicken, gyros and spicy feta fries. The new Street Tacos 202 stand near Section 107 will offer made-to-order pulled pork, carne asada and vegetarian tacos. An updated map of the food and beverage options at Capital One Arena is available here.
When considering new concession concepts for the renovated space, Liz Noe, Aramark’s resident district manager for Capital One Arena, said there was an emphasis on improving speed of service. To that end, new cooking equipment and registers were installed, and the number of points of sale were nearly doubled throughout the arena.
Multiple stands now offer self-ordering kiosks and self-service options. Over the Top near Section 106 allows fans to customize their own signature item by adding various toppings to nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, fries, wings or tater tots. The Over the Top stand on the upper level by Section 417 features a “Pour Your Own Beer” station with 21 taps and 17 Anheuser-Busch InBev varieties, which will be rotated throughout the season.
“We’ll figure out very quickly what are big hits and what aren’t,” said Noe, who added that the issues that led to foamy pours at the stand during the Capitals' home opener have been addressed. “We have an entire analytics team to make sure we have the right choices out for fans."
Around the corner from the “Pour Your Own Beer” wall is the new Federal Favorites Express stand by Section 427. Here, fans can grab arena staples like pizza, nachos, hot dogs, beer and soda, place their items on one of two state-of-the-art check out scanners and pay. Noe said the stand did double the sales at the Capitals' home opener than a similar stand did at a typical home game last season.
The concourses are sleeker and feature 300 new digital signs, menu boards, LED walls and monitors, as well as four new displays paying tribute to the arena’s teams and history. A storage room along the 100-level concourse was turned into a Stella Artois-branded bar with high-top tables. The PwC Club on the club level was redesigned and now features an additional third row of seating. Anyone with a ticket anywhere in the arena can enjoy the various concessions in the PwC Club, including former “Iron Chef” champion Cat Cora’s Mediterranean concept, Olilo.
The new row of seats in the PwC Club were the only ones added during the renovation. While all of the old purple seats in the seating bowl were replaced with sleeker black models featuring the Capital One logo and, at last, functioning cupholders. Touhey said the new seats are the same size as the old ones; after opening night, multiple fans reported the new seats seemed narrower.
The Wizards' former practice court, which was no longer needed with the recent opening of the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C., has been transformed into the MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge. Fans with courtside seats to Wizards games and on-the-glass seats for Capitals games will have access to the redesigned space, which features full-service food stations, a full bar and wait service, before the game, during halftime and between periods.
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