As the Caps vs. Flyers Game 7 third period ended in a tie, I turned to my wife and said, “If the game goes past midnight, I’ve got enough cash for the cab home (to Bethesda) — happily, if the Caps win.” Metro Rail closes at midnight, but the cost of a taxi home was nothing next to the chance of a multi-OT Game 7, particularly one that could result in a Capitals victory.
Sadly, as we well know, that’s not how the night ended. But it got me thinking: What would happen if a game went past Metro’s last call? As players and fans at the quadruple OT sharks at Stars game in Round 2 stumbled into the morning hours, I reflected that Dallas fans would not experience the same problem that Washington fans might. After all, Dallas has practically no public transportation, so 99.9% of the fans likely drove to the game. It’s a different story in our nation’s capital.
So in light of another multi-OT grinder last night, and the likelihood of the Capitals’ frequent return to the post-season for years to come, be reassured: The Capitals and WMATA have got you covered.
A WMATA representative provided a breakdown of their policy for the Nationals and other DC-area sporting events. She explained that WMATA has a standing agreement with Nationals Stadium to operate the rail system beyond normal hours if Nationals games go into extra innings — which makes sense, since any of the Nats’ 81 regular-season games could go well into extra innings. With regard to other sports events, “the sponsoring team makes arrangements with Metro in advance to operate beyond normal hours.”
I also contacted Kurt Kehl of the Washington Capitals; he confirmed that, in the event of extended playoff OT (or even, one would assume, some sort of interruption that significantly delays a regular-season contest), fans need not worry about getting home:
The simple answer is yes, Metro will always make sure that fans get home after a game at the Verizon Center. Metro will keep Gallery Place open and have trains available to get people home. Metro has had a long-standing agreement with Verizon Center to make sure no one would ever be stranded, and they have service agreements in place just in case a hockey, basketball or concert event runs past midnight Sunday to Thursday.
It seems the Caps can simply inform Metro that a given game may be pushing or exceeding Metro’s typical operating hours, and the trains will be there.
So as Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitas into the 2008-09 playoffs and beyond, Capitals fans needn’t let travel concerns make them consider early departure — they can devote full attention to the ice.
As for work the next day . . . well, that’s what caffeine is for, no?
That’s really good, because I remember running around the Fleet Center a few years during the Hockey East finals trying to find out when the last trains left North Station and no one had a clue what the plan was. Good for WMATA and the Caps for sorting this out so well.
Something convenient and customer-friendly coming from the Metro? Shocking. It is encouraging that at least they’ve thought of the situation happening before it actually does.
Dallas has the “DART” train I believe that provides some transportation to American Airlines Arena. I rode it there back in 2005 for game 5 of the semis between the Stars and Avalanche when I ran away from a school trip (excellent decision looking back). It went into overtime and the Stars lost. There were no public transportation issues as it was an afternoon game, however, not to correct you, but it seemed to me that many other fans used it to get to the game.
@ Hooks: It is indeed encouraging, particularly with the Frozen Four coming here next year. Can you imagine a thrilling OT Frozen Four game followed by stranded fans? Thanks to the Caps’ and WMATA’s planning, we won’t have to.
@ Dan: Thanks for the clarification regarding DART. But given that the American Airlines Center’s directions page doesn’t even mention public transportation as an option (http://www.americanairlinescenter.com/directions-and-parking/directions_map.php) I have to think the vast majority of fans drive to Stars games. And yes, it’s always a good decision to ditch school trips (or work, or whatever) for playoff hockey. 🙂
Its funny you mention the frozen four–I’m working on stuff for that right now actually. I feel that OFB needs to be checked at least once a day from work.
Yeah, you’re probably right regarding most people driving. Dart was complicated. Getting there I followed the Stars jerseys, and leaving, I ended up walking back to my hotel. So you’re probably right.
Excellent info as always. Hopefully it will be publicized at the rink of it ever happens. 9:30 club doesn’t have a system like this in place (to my knowledge) and I almost got stuck there last year.