Keeping your Caps tickets out of the hands of the opposing team’s fans

More than one person commented on Twitter during yesterday’s Caps game about the number of Flyers fans that were at the game, including some who said that some Philly fans were in seats normally occupied by Caps season ticket holders. My brother, who was at the game, said to me later by text, “It was the most noise I have heard in Verizon for a goal by the visitors in a long while.” But he said it was, “still easily over 90 percent Caps fans.”

To a certain extent, an opposing team’s fans coming into a sporting venue is unavoidable. Chances are great there that will always be at least a few fans of the visiting team at any game—not just at Caps games but with most teams in any sport (It should be noted that the number of rival fans at Verizon Center in recent years is much, much lower than it once was. Most every game is almost entirely filled with Caps fans. Not even 10% of the crowd being opposing fans for a single game is now enough to get people chatting. Where in the old days those types of numbers would have meant progress, now it alarms some people).

It’s also understandable that season ticket holders for any team might sell their seats occasionally for various reasons. I’ve heard of several Caps fans who are doing this with a few more games this season than they did previously, as a way to help cover costs after ticket prices went up. In the 400 level section at Verizon Center where my father has season tickets, and where my brother was sitting when he sent this tweet yesterday, the price to season ticket holders went up just over 30% in the off season—that adds up when you’re buying tickets to 41 regular season home games.

So, part of the reason it may have felt on Sunday like there were more rival fans at Verizon Center than there have been in a while is that it was the first home game against the Flyers, Penguins or Rangers (the three teams whose fans have historically been most likely to come to Washington in large numbers for a game) since this season started and ticket prices went up.

But regardless, as fans try to recoup some of their costs or simply unload tickets to games they are unable to attend, there are ways to do it that lessen the chances the tickets will end up in the hands of the opponent’s fans. It requires working outside of the more modern ticket resale methods that have emerged in recent years and might require slightly more legwork, but your fellow Caps fans will likely appreciate your efforts.

One of the things to avoid as a seller of tickets if you want as many red clad Caps fans as possible in Verizon Center is called TicketExchange, which is accessible from the Caps’ website and run by Ticketmaster. Through this service, Caps season ticket holders can resell their tickets. It’s been promoted through radio ads as a way for Caps fans to buy tickets directly from season ticket holders.

But here’s the problem with TicketExchange: while this may be a more secure way for a buyer to avoid purchasing counterfeit tickets, there’s nothing to keep a Flyers fan or a Penguins fans or Rangers fans from going onto the Caps site and using this service to buy tickets to see their team play in Washington. Selling through sites like StubHub also brings about this risk. I’d imagine the first place the opposing team’s fans look, once any game is sold out, is on sites like these. Craigslist falls into this category too, though you do get to interact directly with the buyer in that case, so you could hit them with a ten question pop quiz on Caps hockey before you agree to sell to them.

The only near surefire way to put your seats in the hands of a Caps fans is to sell directly to friends and contacts who you know are Caps fans. This doesn’t guarantee the tickets will be used by a Caps fan, but it beats putting them out there on very public sites for anyone in the world to purchase.

Another option my father uses, to sell his tickets to some of the games he can’t make it to, is a message board through my mother’s work. Those tickets could find their way into the hands of an opposing team’s fans, but the chances of this are a lot less likely when you sell through these lesser known, locked down and more local channels used only by people who live in the area. This is a big part of the reason my father uses this option—he doesn’t want to be the guy who allowed fans of another team into Verizon Center.

Twitter can be another good way to sell your tickets. You can find a large community of Caps fans using the tag #Caps on Twitter and you can also look through someone’s tweets to get an idea of who they root for before you sell to them. Facebook can be used in a similar way. And more than ever, there are a lot of people in the DC area who want to check out a Caps game—even a neutral fan is more fun than a fan of the opposition or an empty seat. So ask around your office, school, or the neighborhood and keep your seats filled with Caps fans. Or talk to other season ticket holders in your section and see if they’re interested in purchasing your seats or swapping tickets with you for another game.

Another nice upside to selling directly to someone through options like this is that you can pocket 100% of the selling price, while TicketExchange and StubHub both take a 10% cut when you sell through them.

There’s no way to ensure that every game at Verizon Center is filled with nothing but Caps fans. But with a little extra effort, you can help cut down on the dirty looks you might get from your fellow Caps season ticket holders who didn’t enjoy sitting next to that guy in the Flyers jersey the day you couldn’t make it to the game.

And if you do it for no one else, do it for people like The Horn Guy, who was one of those who commented on Twitter Sunday about there being Flyers fans in season ticket holder seats. He leads the Verizon Center crowd with “Let’s Go Caps” blasts on his horn from the 400 level and is one of the many people that makes the Caps’ home arena such a great place to experience a game—working harder to keep tickets in the hands of Washington fans is the least everyone can do for him and all our fellow Caps fans.

29 thoughts on “Keeping your Caps tickets out of the hands of the opposing team’s fans

  1. On that subject, we sit on the aisle in the lower level and it seems that the STH holders on the aisle across from us seem to sell most of their tickets and fans of the opposing team seem to end up there. (The fans of Boston were particularly loud this weekend.) Ironically, those folks didn’t sell to Flyers fans (but Flyers fans ended up right next to us.)

  2. Or, do what my wife and I do and meet the other STHs in your section or around the arena and switch email contacts. We, generally, know which games we cannot make ahead of time and email those other STHs if they want our tickets. We set a price at $30 per ticket. We share with the STH next to us, so both of us can have 4 tickets in a row – great for the big games!

  3. Mike

    Relax, Take a trip and catch the Caps on the Road. I’ve used the buying schemes you’ve mentioned to purchase tix to several road venues. I wear my Red and enjoy the local flavor. For the most part, the fans treat me and my family well.

    You mention that you feel that the NYR, Philly, and Pens fans travel to watch their teams. Many probably do, but I’d bet that most of them are transplants, living in the DC area.

    Don’t let those off color jerseys ruin your experience. I can remember going to Caps games in the 70’s and there were more Flyers fans than Caps fans. No Big deal!

    • As a Caps STH, I also travel to a several away games that the Caps play during the season and playoffs. I think its great to be able to select the specific location and price that Ticket Exchange or Stubhub provide when planning those road trips.

      In most cities (except Philly or NYC), the home town fans treat visitors, EVEN THOSE IN CAPS JERSEYS, really nice. Before you start advocating how to make it difficult for other team’s fans to buy Caps tickets–remember the coin has too sides. We can’t travel and support the Caps either if the other home teams and their fans follow suit and shut us out.

  4. Well I’m a STH and while it would be unusual for an opposing team’s fan to end up in my seat, I’ve even brought opposing team fans I do business with to games between our two teams and sat together. Further, I’ve gone to other team’s arenas and watched/rooted for the Capitals wearing my Caps sweater.

    To me part of what I’ve always loved about hockey and going to Caps game in particualar is the general commaradierie of hockey fans and the conginial, good behaviour of Caps fans here in DC in particular.

    The only thing I’ve ever felt this way about is I really don’t like the bahavior/attitudes of the Pittsburgh Penguin fans when they come here to DC. Especially to me it seems two particular groups:
    a) The ones wearing Crosby Sweaters who really don’t know much about hockey … (I’d put ~50% of the ones wearing “87” jerseys in that catagory – though they probably say the same thing about we Caps fans who wear number “8”).
    b) The few who wear Jagr jerseys who do not understand why that would just make we Caps fans “see red” and I’m talking in the Running of the Bulls Sense not the “Rock the Red” sense. Though I guess on reflection I’d have to say see a Rangers fan in a Jagr sweater ticks me of more since I realize that while he was playing for the Rangers we were still paying fro part of his salary…

    My point is I can’t share your view and then go to any sort of Caps aways games (which I try to get to a couple a season) and not feel I’d be a hypocrite.

  5. It can happen to anyone. According to the ticket I just printed via StubHub for Caps@Rangers tonight, my seat was issued to Ron Duguay! Hope he doesn’t mind a Caps fan there!

  6. Japers Rink readers set up a “rink rat ticket exchange”.

    Usually seats can be had for between cost and face, and its a system that is designed to ensure tix go to Capitals fans.

    If you look on the main page at http://www.japersrink.com, on the left hand side is “the vault” which are permanent links. The rink rat ticket exchange is one of them.

    I’ve used it to buy tickets for friends, and sell tickets for games I couldn’t make.

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  8. While I appreciate your article, I cannot disagree with you more. Mr. Leonsis got me annoyed with this idea years ago when folks from Pittsburgh (having a Pittsburgh zip code) were unable to buy tickets to games in DC that I believe they were playoff games. I won’t go into why putting a better product on the ice might have helped him sell more tickets to the hometown fans back then. but I will say he has since done so and has since, as you might say, filled the arena with Caps fans. For that, I commend him because any live hockey game is a good hockey game. (I will admit I may be slowly becoming a Caps fan.)

    For those of us that follow teams that are not the Caps but live in this area, going to a game in DC when our team is in town may be the only opportunity we have to see our team play in person. One thing fans of any sport team in DC forget is that this city, more so than most others, is a very transient city. Most folks living and working in area were raised somewhere other than DC and most likely hold allegiances to teams outside of DC. Any chance I get to watch the Pens and the Phillies here in DC I will take. It is just the nature of DC.

    What’s more, I had a buddy who had full season tickets to the Caps but was from Pittsburgh and his true allegiance was to the Penguins. The only games he was not wearing red and cheering for the Caps were the Pens games. He did get a lot of crap from the STHs around him during those games but they knew he paid his money for the tickets just like everyone else.

    As another example, I once attended a Villanova/Georgetown game at the Verizon Center by myself. I purchased a ticket on Ticketmaster earlier that week just like anyone else could. I sat in my seat which was center court about 14 rows up. Perfect seats. I just so happened to be sitting in the G’town alumni section. I sat quietly, cheered in my head and under my breath and never said a word to the gentleman to my left. By the end of the game he was so hot that a Villanova fan was sitting in his section he was discussing writing a letter to the alumni association to ensure that “annoying Villanova fans” did not get tickets in that section. And he said it loud enough so I could hear him. We had a little chat about that and he quickly shut his rhetoric down. Oh, and ‘Nova won that contest. It probably didn’t help his argument.

    Does this mean I can only go to home games in Pittsburgh or Philly to watch my favorites teams play? I doubt the owners of any teams, especially bad teams, would think this is a good idea.

    When it comes to the Caps these days, this argument isn’t really relevant. I have been to about a dozen Caps games over the last year and a half. Very rarely, if ever, does the number of fans for the teams battling it out on the ice ever reach 60:40, Caps fans to the opposition fans. Years ago you could have called MCI Center the Igloo South since it was overrun by Pens fans. You really can’t say that anymore. It is a sea of red throughout the arena with an energy that is completely directed to Ovie and his teammates.

    So, I say let a few fans from the opposing team enjoy some live hockey. Who is it really hurting? Certainly not Mr. Leonsis.

    I will close with this thought, going to a game with opposing fans should be a lesson in tolerance rather than a lesson on how to discriminate against those with a differ points of view or allegiances.

    • I have no issue with opposing team’s fans seeking out tickets to see their team play on the road. I’ve done that myself. I can’t blame them at all for wanting to come to a game. My beef is with Caps fans who make it too easy for opposing fans to get tickets. If a Pens fans can find a way to get tickets when they play in Washington, more power to ‘em. I won’t like them being there at the game, but my real issue is: why did a season ticket holder put their seats on Stub Hub and make it so easy for that Pittsburgh fan to get in there. There’s a waiting list for season tickets in DC—I’d like to see Caps fans make the opposing fans work to get into our building.

      • I do see your point. But I think it comes down to the almighty dollar. Caps fans just want to get out from under the tickets whenever they are unable to attend. Especially early in the season when baseball is still being played and football is just kicking into gear. It is hard to find anyone to buy your tickets, let alone an actual Caps fan. Now, I think that changes throughout the course of the season but it is certainly true during the first quarter, if not the first half, of the season.

        Bottom line, in a free market, money talks.

      • What Mike is advocating is making the Caps venue the ultimate home ice advantage. Making your home arena the most difficult place for the opposition to play is what really great, passionate fan bases do. One way of achieving that is to have as many seats as possible holding a fan wearing a Caps jersey.

        Sure there are lots of out of towners or transplants who are really great people who want to see their team play. Just like the Flyers and the Pens probably have some great guys on their teams. But Boudreau’s not telling the Caps to take it easy on them. And Caps fans should not make it easy for fans of their opponents to get tickets. Go the extra mile and forego the extra few bucks (or even make a few more if you bypass the Stub Hub TicketMaster route). That’s the difference between a FAN and a spectator.

        Is there a risk that Philly or Pittsburgh could emulate this strategy as someone suggests? Of course they could, just like someone could emulate a game plan. The key is to out-work and out-think the other side – in the case of Philly and Pittsburgh the latter shouldn’t be very hard to do. It really all comes down to whether the fans of the Washington Capitals want to be known as the best fan base in the NHL. Ted Leonsis has worked hard to put a great team on the ice. Will the DC area work as hard? Ask yourself are you a FAN or just a spectator? If you are a FAN, Mike’s ideas make a lot of sense.

      • I think this who effort seems pretty petty to me. The percentage of visiting fans at current Caps games is miniscule compared to earlier years. The real problem you should be addressing is the financial crunch Ted Leonsis put everyone under by raising ticket prices in ONE YEAR to an average of 24%– the highest in ALL FOUR major league sports last year. Ted talks a good game but its still a business first and foremost to him and he decided to squeeze the season ticket holders as much as he could all at once.

        Yesterday I responded on his blog, Ted’s Take, to his comments on this issue. He DELETED my comment because I dared to say (politely I might add) that as a STH if he hadn’t raised tickets so greatly in one year, myself and others wouldn’t have the need to sell off some of the games online to meet costs. Pretty petty on his part.

  9. Mike, you bring up a good point, but I expect it will largely fall on deaf ears (blind eyes?). As you mentioned, the season ticket price increase for 2010-2011 was quite significant. (In my opinion, it should have been incremental as the team continues to build toward winning a second playoff round and someday the Cup). It was 32%, to be exact. There are so many of our season ticket brethren who simply cannot absorb this major hit without selling off some games, and Flyers fans’ money is just as green as Caps fans. With the team pushing TicketExchange, I suspect that is the route most fans take when they need to make a convenient sale. And like it or not, it’s their prerogative to do whatever they like with their tickets, including letting them fall into the hands of the enemy.

    I, too, dislike the trend back to the days of opposing team’s fans in the building – however, having been to games in Philly, Carolina, Dallas, Florida, and LA I can tell you there are fans rockin’ the red in all of these buildings…if that’s any consolation. There have been opposing teams’ fans in my section all season, which I’m not at all used to. I know some are in season ticket seats because they are in Row A and B. In all my years as a Caps fan and season ticket holder, I’ve never sold or given tickets to a fan of the opponent. I know way too many Caps fans for that to ever be necessary. Aside from my season ticket neighbors, I’m friends with a lot of Caps fans on Facebook and connected to others through various message boards, so on the rare occasion that I may need to find a taker for my tickets, there are plenty of avenues to find one who’s a Caps fan.

    On Sunday, I amused myself by standing on the concourse and watching each Flyers fan who passed by (perhaps 5 total) being mercilessly heckled by a bunch of Caps fans. And the best part, of course, was watching them slink silently to the exits after their team was defeated. An added bonus to the Caps’ victory!

  10. It seems that some of the comments on here as well as the way the argument was framed by the radio guys today implies that the issue was with the number of Flyers fans at the game. This is not the case (and I don’t think it was Mike’s point) and as a Caps fan who has been nearly outnumbered by Flyers or Penguins fans in the past I am a bit sensitive to this misconception. The game was still mainly Caps fans. I don’t think the issue is with how many Flyer fans were there but more so with the way the few there got their tickets, whether it was 2 of them or 20,000 of them.

  11. I really don’t care if I’m sitting next to a bunch of rival fans. In fact, sometimes that can be what makes going to a game a great experience. What it comes down to, though, for me, is that I’d always rather be in a full arena than one with empty seats, regardless of who’s cheering for whom.

  12. somewhat off topic but… opposing fans have shown their presence at caps games for years, and are usually quite vocal. this is fine, i go to many away games myself, wear capital’s sweaters and cheer for my team too. one thing I’ve noticed at the phone booth is that those visiting fans are actually given the chance to hear themselves. back in the day (at that deep, dark pit in landover), when flyers/rangers/islanders/pens/whomever would start their “let’s go rangers, clap, clap, clap clap clap” chant, caps fans would do their best to chant over them with (insert name here) SUCK, over and over, this would at the least distort their chants. now, while I’m not a big supporter of yelling so and so SUCKS at a sporting event, if i am going to hear it, the least you could do is keep going over and over. what’s with the long pause giving them the chance to hear themselves by volleying back and forth exactly? just say’n…… oh, and the next time a flyer fan asks how many cups the caps have, ask them if 1. they were alive when the flyers last won, and 2. how many super bowls the eagles have. and as far as the pens go, ask that fan with the crosby sweater to name 3 players who played for the pens prior to mario.

  13. There were no where near as many opposing fans at the Flyers game as what there used to be. While the Caps are claiming sellouts, I have noticed more empty seats at several games this season. When individual game tickets went on sale, they were open to anyone. So some of those opposing fans probably bought their tickets on TicketMaster when individual games went on sale in September as they knew that they wanted to go to that particular game. When I can’t make a game and know in advance, I do try to sell to other Cap fans. But given the increase in price of Caps season tickets, if I am not feeling well and can’t go to a game, I have put tickets up three times at the last minute on TicketExchange. Anyone can buy tickets from TicketExchange, which means that Caps fans can also purchase the tickets. If Caps fans don’t snap them up and opposing fans do, then that is life. I don’t think people should be called out for using a service provided by the team itself. I do not feel particularly comfortable selling tickets to a person whom I do not know, but at least on TicketExchange, the buyer will not receive a ticket with my account number on it and I know that I will receive payment.

  14. I’m a STH. I can attest that there were plenty of Bruins fans in attendance on Friday night. Two were next to me in sec 430 in seats held by STHs. When I saw them on Sunday, I mentioned it to the seat owners and they were surprised. But I can’t point fingers. I sold a ticket to a Pens game last year to, as it happened, a Pens fan. That man (well-behaved, I heard later) paid twice the face value of the ticket only to watch the Pens lose. Sweeet.

    At least the Bruins fans went home unhappy, too.

  15. For a fanbase that did not exist for the majority of the last decade, you guys sure talk a mean game. The Caps played to empty buildings leading up to 08/09, where were you guys then? I am quite certain that opposing fans took over your building during those years, it is just that you guys were not there to witness it.

    • actually, while your perspective may be appreciated, it does not hold water. i’ve been a sth since ’83, and while there have been many a night in the past when more than a few seats were unoccupied, “empty buildings” is a bit of an exaggeration. in the 15 years prior to ovie, the average attendance for a caps game was 15,738 and the average attendance for the pens during those same years was 15,579. the pens I might add had 2 ‘face of the nhl superstars’ and won 2 cups during those years. the low year for the caps was in 94-95 at 14,159. the low year for the pens was a pathetic 11,877 in 03-04. it’s proof that pens support depends on whether or not they have a superstar on your team. while the caps have had several players loaded with talent, ovie is our first true superstar, so get off our case. dc is a transient city, a lot of people not actually from here. a number of those not from here did make up for a fair amount of seats occupied over the years to help those numbers, but there is a strong fan base that has been here all along and is quite familiar with the sport of hockey. when we were close to losing the team about 30 years ago, we showed up and enough new season tickets were sold to keep the caps here. that’s a lot to say when our owner was a basketball fan and did not give the same attention to his hockey team. when the pens were about to leave town, their fans STOPPED showing up, 11,877 per game in 03-04! now that’s support. pens have been spoiled with mario-jagr, and now crosby-malkin, 2 superstars at a time, not bad. ok, rambling… just wondering where all the pens fans were during those years when they didn’t have 2 superstars, guess that’s what it takes for them to show their support. stop harping on new caps fans who have shown up now that we have a superstar.

  16. we’ve used ticket exchange as well, it works. it is secure for both buyer and seller, and works well if something comes up late and we can’t get to a game. you can also donate your tickets. we also know our “neighbors”, we figure out games we can’t attend or games we’d be interested in another pair. we exchange tickets with others in our section all the time. that being said, tickets do get to opposing team’s fans, not going to stop it by calling out a sth for selling their tickets online. one step that could be taken by ted would be to sift out all the brokers. too many ticket brokers have accounts, it’s obvious. it also would be nice to see more done about the scalpers who seem to think they own the sidewalks outside the arena. is scalping legal? dc police just stand around talking donuts while 100’s of these scalpers are taking up space yelling at me “got tickets”? “need tickets”?, “any extras”? it’s so freaking annoying, the least they could do is move them across the street (which they’ve done in the past but did not last long).

  17. I’m a Pens fan who has been to a few Pens/Caps games in DC (and one Canes/Caps game for the love of hockey) and I’ve always had a lot of fun. Likewise, it’s fun having away fans in Mellon (as a displaced fan, I haven’t been to CEC yet) to heckle and makes things more dramtic. No home fan wants the opposing fans chanting on their way out of your arena, but it is more fun knowing that they might just get that chance.

    Some Caps fans (especially the middle age folks) really don’t like my presence at the Caps games. While the younger fans – the ones I am more likely to believe actually like hockey – are more likely to be vocal and heckle, they do it out of fun. I’ve had 40-50 year old “fans” actually call me out and curse at me, a 20-something Pens fan. What do I care? I’m not about the get into a verbal war with some old guy.

    This was a very rambling post, but I think it’s fun when there are some away fans. I’ve had a bunch of good conversations with Caps fans in the Verizon Center, even while wearing my Staal jersey.

    Oh, and three pre-Mario Penguins? Bathgate, Kehoe, Aps, and I was born three years after Mario started playing for the Pens.

    • Well, anyone who curses you for the sole reason that you are a pens fan are not worth a response. I don’t believe that was suggested in my rant, but I digress. One point that might be hidden in my not-so-well written rant was in response to some of the trash-talking criticism directed at a number of newly acquired Capitals fans due to the arrival of a superstar. Namely coming from long-time rival fans of your beloved pens. As if they would have the same mass following and popularity without the benefit of some superstars of their own in the past (and present).

      Personally, I enjoy the presence of opposing team’s fans as well (though it is nice that the ratio has changed a bit of late). Usually those fans dedicated enough to make the appearance as visitors have half a hockey mind and enjoy the banter. It’s also possible to share a beer and actually talk hockey in between periods and after the game. It’s those who feel the need to crow about how much more dedicated they are because “if it weren’t for ovie bla bla bla”, well, the same could be said “if it weren’t for mario, and jagr, and sidney, and malkin”. Those are the ones who need to get a room with the so called “fans” who cursed you and work out their issues and do some research on hockey.

      Anyway, I’m not a blogger or a poster, so pardon my blogging shortcomings.

      oh, and please don’t think that all 20 something hockey fans know something about hockey just because you are the same age. There is plenty of ignorance found in all age groups. btw; some of us old folks know a thing or 2 and were chanting/heckling/bantering/sharing a beer, before you were born.

  18. I will NEVER sell/give my seats to anyone that is not a Caps fan! The people in my section have created an network to offer our tickets to each other if any of us can’t attend and we sell to each other based on what we paid for the seats. We want Caps fans in our seats and we aren’t trying to make money in the process. There is nothing worse than having an obnoxious fan that supports another team sitting near you during the games. When we go I want a sea of Red and I don’t want to hear anyone (or at the very least, very few) people cheering for the other team!

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