Nothing brings together a city much like its sports teams, and DC is fortunate to be represented by all five major sports leagues as well as lesser known leagues and a wealth of college teams. Happily for those of us who don’t drive, most of them are pretty accessible by transit, too.
For your weekend on the town, check out these options for transit-accessible sport venues inside the Beltway:
1. Nationals Park
Metro: Navy Yard-Ballpark (Green Line)
Tenants: Washington Nationals (MLB)
There is nothing quite like a Major League Baseball game. Nationals park hosts 81 regular season games between April and October, drawing consistent crowds with the positive fan experience and highly inclusive environment. Fans stick around before and after games thanks to the ever-increasing amount of nearby attractions, including bars, restaurants, parks, and public spaces.
Arriving on public transportation is pretty straightforward, but the stadium also offers a bike valet on the northeast side of the venue. Considering its location in the center of a vibrant, walkable and bikeable neighborhood, human powered transit is a very pleasant way to get to games. Another way to beat the crowds on Metro is to get off at Capital South (Blue/Orange/Silver Lines) and walk down New Jersey Avenue, perhaps stopping at a pub for a pre-game drink along the way.
2. FedEx Field
Metro: Morgan Boulevard (Blue/Silver Lines)
Tenants: NFL Football, various international soccer matches
Known for its bad food, difficult location, and widely disliked owner, FedEx Field maintains a very negative reputation for fan experience. Just ask one of the thousands of season ticket holders who have chosen not to renew this year. But for NFL games, it is the only show in town.
Getting there by Metro is somewhat of an ordeal, as it requires an unpleasant 20-minute walk from Morgan Boulevard station. The walk includes a trek across the stadium’s vast parking desert. There are few nearby attractions, so unless you are tailgating there is little to do before and after stadium events. And if you choose to drive, be ready to wait in long lines while getting in and out. There is a designated pickup/dropoff point which makes arriving by Uber or Lyft a bit easier, but you can expect high costs for ride-hailing thanks to its isolated location.
3. Capital One Arena
Capacity: 20,356 (basketball) 18,506 (hockey)
Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red/Yellow/Green Lines)
Tenants: Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Valor (Arena Football League), Georgetown University Hoyas (NCAA Big East)
Something is almost always going on at the Capital One Arena. Located in the heart of downtown and sitting atop a major transfer Metro station and several prominent bus routes, it is perhaps the easiest venue to reach on public transit. The arena environment offers a pretty good fan experience, and the location in bustling Chinatown offers plenty to do before and after its events.
If you live close to Downtown, walking might be the best way to avoid the crowds. Otherwise, just about any way you choose to arrive short of driving is fairly straightforward and easy. Two of the tenants, the Capitals and the Valor, won championships in 2018. Who can forget the crowds massing outside the arena during the Stanley Cup Finals as the Caps won in Las Vegas last June?
4. Audi Field
DC United is known for is rabid fanbase and a cheering section that is second to none in local sports. Opened just last summer, Audi Field is the newest major venue in the area, and the surrounding neighborhood is developing rapidly. (Think Nationals Park 10 years ago.) Since it’s situated right between Navy Yard and the Wharf, so there is no shortage of nearbay attractions for before and after the game.
The walk to the stadium is a bit further than those at Nats Park or the Capital One Arena, but the area is developing with a very pedestrian- and bike-friendly design, so it is a rather pleasant walk. If you do choose to walk, save some breath so you can sing Vamos United at the top of your lungs in the cheering section. Also, look for the new XFL football and Premier Lacrosse League matches in the coming months
5. St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena
Located a short walk from the Congress Heights station, this arena is easily accessible. There is not much around yet, as the Saint E’s campus is still a work in progress, but Monumental Sports owns the complex and they are known for providing a good fan experience at their venues. In addition to its two professional basketball teams, the arena also hosts boxing matches.
6. Kastles Stadium at Union Market
Metro: NoMa-Gallaudet (Red Line)
Tenants: Washington Kastles (World Team Tennis)
This rooftop venue is a short walk from the Metro and nearby Florida Avenue is getting a pedestrian/bike safety upgrade. This newer venue offers Venus Williams and the six-time World Team Tennis champions a unique setting for their short season, generally starting and ending in the month of July every summer.
7. University of Maryland: Xfinity Center and Byrd Stadium
Capacity: 17,950 (Xfinity Center), 51,802 (Byrd Stadium)
Metro: College Park-UMD (Green/Yellow Lines)
Tenants: University of Maryland Terrapins athletics (NCAA B1G)
Long known for its mediocrity as a college town, College Park has been exploding recently with all the development around the planned Purple Line, which will bring three new stations to the campus in 2023. It’s not the worst campus to reach by car, but be prepared for some long lines, particularly after games.
The walk from the Metro is a bit of a hike, but the development in the area has been making the walk a little easier. And the growing number of restaurants and bars along Route 1 means you don’t necessarily have to head home after a game.
8. Greene Stadium
Metro: Columbia Heights (Green/Yellow Lines)
Tenants: Howard University Bisons (NCAA-MEAC)
The Howard Bisons are the most prominent NCAA football team in the city, and their marching band is world class. For a Division I NCAA FCS stadium, it is a little small. But that offers the intimacy of a high school stadium with a much greater product on the field.
It’s about a 15 minute walk from Columbia Heights Metro station, or a 20 minute walk from Shaw-Howard U station. Come for the football, stay for the band.
9. Cardinal Stadium
Next year will be the first full season for Major League Rugby (rugby union) in DC, and Cardinal Stadium will be their home for the foreseeable future. Though a good mile walk from the Brookland station, you will either pass through the Catholic University campus or the Brookland neighborhood along the way, both friendly environments for pedestrians. The city’s newest pro sports team should offer high quality action for local rugby union fans.
10. GWU Charles E. Smith Center
Metro: Foggy Bottom (Blue/Orange/Silver Lines)
Tenants: GWU Colonials basketball (NCAA Atlantic-10)
Just two blocks south of Foggy Bottom station, getting to this arena for some college basketball is no problem. Though it certainly does not have the amenities of larger arenas, there should be few complaints about the fan experience. And of course, Foggy Bottom offers plenty of attractions worth lingering before and after games.
11. MedStar Capitals Iceplex
Metro: Ballston (Orange/Silver Lines)
Tenants: Washington Capitals (practice facility), Georgetown U Hoyas hockey (NCAA Div II)
Mostly known for the Capitals practice facility, the site also hosts college hockey and hosts figure skating events. Situated near the heart of Ballston in Arlington, walking and biking are viable options for reaching this venue. The dual rinks are located atop the eighth floor of a parking garage a couple blocks from the Metro station.
Sports fans have so many options inside the Beltway. No matter what your sport, there is a nearby pro or college team playing it here. And for the most part, they are very accessible by transit. So consider a sporting event this weekend, and leave the car at home while you don your favorite home team colors.