MCI Center, Washington D.C.
MCI Center, located in downtown Washington, DC, is the country's newest state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility. It is the homefield to the Wizards (pro men's basketball), the Capitals (hockey), the Mystics (women's pro basketball), and Georgetown University men's basketball. When the center is not hosting a sporting event, there are concerts and cultural events each year. At the inauguration, the MCI Center hosted one of the formal balls which explains why so much around it was cordoned off for security reasons.
Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitols play right downtown in the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center) in Chinatown. The Capitals joined the NHL in 1974, and their first year was marked with futility as they set the record for worst winning percentage in NHL history. 1998 was the team's best year, as they won the Eastern Conference Championship, but lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Red Wings.
We attended the Caps-Bruins game on January 17th 2009. Tickets were sold out, but we payed a little over face value to purchase two on Stub Hub. Our seats were in the upper level, but right on center red, a prime location. The game was good, but there was one extremely drunk fan nearby who was a little obnoxious. Also, I have never heard the word "suck" chanted so many times outside of a World Wrestling Federation event. I enjoyed the hard-fought game with a final score of 2-1, but if I had kids, I'd think twice before bringing them, especially if they plan to wear the opposing team's colors.
The Verizon Center was completed in 1997, replacing the US Air Center in Landover, MD. When built, the construction unfortunately destroyed an area of historic Chinatown, and the rise in real estate value pushed out many more Chinese businesses, only to be replaced with major national chains.
The Washington DC NBA franchise and Georgetown University's men's basketball team also play here.
Bucking a trend in the United States, Washington DC built a sports arena in the city rather than the suburbs. What happened was predictable -- a lot of restaurants and good bars were setup to quench the thirst of the sports fans before and after the local games.
While this may not seem terribly unusual for our European guests, in America, it's a big deal... so enjoy a game American-style, with a bite to eat prior to cheering for the home team.
Chinatown is right next door, with a collection of small Chinese restaurants and increasing number of chain restaurants adding chinese characters to their street signs. If you need some martial arts gear, this is the area for you.