Upon leaving the arena yesterday, members of the staff were handing out business cards that mentioned an online survey. So having some free time to myself this morning, I sat down and took the aforementioned survey, taking the onus to do what I can to contribute to a better Washington Capitals experience. That may sound cheesy, but I'm the kind of guy that believes every vote matters. You know, a nerd.
The survey was actually about fans' experiences with the concession vendors at Washington Capitals games. I find this odd because Ted Leonsis has said repeatedly that the Capitals have very little control over the concessions in the arena, since those are controlled by Washington Sports and Entertainment (the parents company of the Wizards). The survey got me thinking about the food at Verizon Center nonetheless.
I don't eat at the Phone Booth often. Usually I get a soda and a pretzel. My father usually buys popcorn, and my mom and sister might get a coffee from Dunkin Donuts. If they Caps are playing particularly bad, I'll drink a beer (or 4). But the food inside the stadium is so poor, I rarely, if ever, eat it. One used to be able to bring in food from the outside, but that was something that was done away with last year due to "security reasons." I assure a $5 combo from McDonalds was FAR better food than the Chicken Tender Basket and a large soda inside (which would cost three times as much).
Thinking about how bad the food is, I started thinking about sporting stadiums I have been to in the last five years, be it for a concert or sporting event, and ranked the food.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore): A-. Good selection, including Boog's BBQ, and all kinds of really good food. A little pricey, but the quality of the food is second to none.
Scott Stadium (UVa) B+ Not great, but LOTS of variety scattered throughout. The Second Quarter Cheesburger is a staple of my diet.
Ravens Stadium (or whatever corporate name it has this week. Baltimore). B+. One of the cheaper stadiums, great selection, and the lines weren't too horrific for the few Ravens games I've gone to.
Giant Center (Hershey, PA) B. Not too expensive, the food is good, not great. Not a wide variety of food, but a wide variety of beer and chocolate. Duh.
The Patriot Center (George Mason University) B Not a lot of variety, but not very expensive, and what they do have isn't screwed up that much.
FedEx Field (Redskins, DC United Game).B Surprisingly really good food. Not surprisingly, ridiculously expensive food. Not necessarily a wide variety of food, but this is a football game. Lines weren't too horrible either, which surprised me. Then again, anything good involving the Redskins these days is a bit of a surprise.
RFK Stadium (Washington DC). B- Former home of the Nationals, current home of the DC United. For the most part the food is really lousy, but cheap. Then I tried the Chicken Tenders. AMAZING. Simply Amazing.
Lincoln Field (Philadelphia PA). C+. I didn't get the full experience at the stadium, as I was there for a Temple Football game and there were maybe 20,000 people there and the upper level was closed. That said, the food was decent, moderately cheap, and all around not horrible. Not great either though.
Wallace Wade Stadium (Duke University). Kind of meh. Barely a stadium (does it even seat 15,000?). Food is more like a glorified high school football game than a college setting. Of course, you can also buy a large pizza from Dominos inside the arena for $15 and it tastes just as good as it would outside. An excellent idea if you spent the previous night having too much fun in Chapel Hill.
Nisaan Pavillion, Bristol VA. C- Ok, not a stadium, but a concert venue. Not great food, but not horribly expensive. I guess prices trend downward when people are tailgating outside the arena. Not really much to choose from either, in food or beer. Get there early and go to one of the multitude of fast food establishments in Gainesville.
The Prudential Center (Newark NJ). C. Not particularly good from my experience. Not particularly Cheap. But loads better than it was at the old arena, and not really exceptionally bad.
Verizon Center (Washington DC)D-. The food is simply bad. The Fries taste like cardboard, the chips taste poisonous. The burgers are dry, the tenders are cold, and the "Papa Johns" doesn't even taste like Pizza. The only thing redeeming the place is the Dunkin Donuts inside the arena and the wide selection of beer.
Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena), East Rutherford NJ. F The Worst Food Ever. I was there for a Pearl Jam concert, and was extremely disappointed in the level of food, especially after having been in the car all day.