Monday, August 30, 2010

Sticker Shock

Being a Caps season ticket holder is a wonderful thing. You get tickets to 41 Caps home games, a wonderful Season Ticket Holder present, a huge party (last year, at Six Flags), first dibs at the Caps equipment sale, and the ability to gloat to all your friends. But it’s fairly costly. Some view it as an investment, selling various games for a profit and breaking even on the season. Some simply take the hit, and spend even more money on concessions and souvenirs. But there is another hidden cost that hits us all: getting to Verizon Center.
I myself take Metro to and from games. Living up the I-95 corridor in suburban Maryland, Greenbelt Station is my station of choice. It has a direct exit off 495, making it easy to get to, and always has sufficient parking. But Metro isn’t cheap. It’s one of those expenses that you just assume into your cost for a game and coming off your Smart Trip card, you rarely ever see the cash leave you hand. But just how expensive is it?

Get ready to get sick.

The Caps have 25 games that fit Metro’s ‘weekday’ pricing (27 actual weekday games, 2 of which fall on a holiday) and 16 games that fit their ‘weekend’ pricing (including those two holiday games). Assuming you leave for DC at 4:00pm on a game day, park at the station and leave downtown for home after 9:00pm, these are the full-season costs from the system's end stations:

Greenbelt: $632.25 for a couple w/ parking; $1158.25 for a family of 4 w/ parking

Shady Grove: $682.25; $1245.75

Vienna: $676.00; $1239.50

Glenmont: $659.75; $1200.75

New Carrolton: $546.35; $986.45

Franconia Springfield: $676.00; $1239.50

Largo Town Center: $622.25; $1138.25

Branch Avenue: $528.85; $951.45

(Oh, and with Metro’s new $0.20 ‘Peak-of-the-peak’ fare increase, if you’re leaving for DC between 4:30-6:30pm during the week add on an additional $5 to the total.)

Insane, right? The cost of Metro for a family of 4 is nearly the cost of a season ticket. During the week, it’s actually more expensive for a couple to park at Shady Grove Metro Station and take the train in ($20.25) than it is to drive to Chinatown and pay $10-20 to park in a garage (granted, you eliminate the hassle of dealing with rush-hour traffic if you train in).

Fortunately, there are ways of lessening the blow from Metro costs if you’re willing to do some work.
Take a look at stations a little further down the line, closer to the city. With fares that are $0.60 less than Greenbelt’s, taking the train from College Park Station will save you $201.80 over the course of a season. The same holds true for Twinbrook ($30) and Grosvenor ($95) on the Red Line, Van Dorn St. ($90) and Morgan Blvd. ($171.80) on the Blue Line, and Dunn Loring ($60) and West Falls Church ($256.80!) on the Orange Line. Some of these stations have far fewer parking spots than the end stations, but if you’re lucky enough to get a spot it’s worth the extra drive.

You could also look for a job in Downtown DC, in which case you’d save some money by not leaving the city till after Metro’s peak fare times. You could do even better if you find a job with an employer who subsidizes Metro costs. I hear the Federal Government is always hiring!

Or you could simply drive your Mercedes Benz SL65 AMG Black Edition into Chinatown and park in the Verizon Center garage. Oh yeah... to do that, you'll need to be the best hockey player in the world.

No matter what, the cost of a Caps season ticket isn’t the true cost of the ticket and it isn't for the faint of heart. Fortunately enough, 18,000 red-clad Caps Fans think the price is worth it.


  1. I live in Gainesville, so my options are either to drive to Vienna metro or drive all the way in. I started driving in and parking at a $10 lot about 3 blocks from Verizon. But still, it's definitely costly. I just decided my vehicle was more comfortable and reliable than Metro.

  2. Really? You had to print it out like that? I have the worst of both worlds. I drive an hour to get to the Metro from Southern Maryland. I've had season tickets for 11 years (this season marks the 12th). For six of those years my sister gave me her ration of metro cards that she got from work, making the trip for those years completely free. Now here's where I think it is worth it: driving from Southern Maryland to Branch Avenue in and vice-versa home we encounter more scary drivers per 100 feet than we wish to face. That 30 minute train trip is relaxing as hell in comparison, and we usually spend it with other Caps fans, often in giddy expectation, joyous celebration or shared compassionate solace. We even have friends we met on these trips. It's the intangibles.

  3. B8ovin: I'm totally with you. I grew up going downtown via Metro and now that I get to go to all these Caps games, I love the ride in/back on the train. It allows me time to decompress from what it usually an exciting time and, as you said, hang with other Caps fans. Driving in, especially at rush hour, isn't something I'd ever consider full-time. That's just me, personally.

  4. Katie, where are you finding $10 parking? I metro in and would love to have a decent option for friends when they buy my tickets to a game (if you don't mind sharing your secret). How quick is getting out of your lot?