October 8, 2013

A New Perspective

For the past 13 seasons that I have been a Wizards season ticket holder (or since I first took the plunge into those very icy waters), I have had two seats waiting for me each year in row G of Section 402 in the upper deck of MCI Center / Verizon Center. My first season tickets were seats 12 and 13; a few years later, I moved towards center court to a spot on the aisle in seats 4 and 5.

In the beginning, those seats were my only season tickets. But eventually, I supplemented them with a 10 game plan in Section 103 so we could see the action a little bit closer to the court once in while. That 10 game plan got moved to Section 109 on the other side of Verizon Center and in time, we upgraded that plan to a 21 game plan and finally to a full season two years ago, when Ted Leonsis slashed the prices of those seats and made us an offer we just couldn't refuse.

But despite having a full season in the lower bowl, I hung on to my Section 402, row G seats and continued to sit in those seats a few times a year when we either needed two sets of seats to entertain friends or when we found a way to make a couple of bucks by selling a game or two on the secondary market. 13 years is a long time but those seats have always been there for me.

The view from row G of 402 is awesome. It's just a bit behind the basket on the Wizards' bench side of the court and is close enough to the front of the upper deck to see everything clearly. It is actually pretty much just like watching on TV, except that basketball is simply way better live (even from the upper deck) than it is on the small screen. Because we are sitting on the bench side of the arena in section 402, the court is upside down from the picture on TV but that's OK; I can read the Wizards' logo at center court upside down and rightside up just fine.

Our new seats.
During games against popular opponents like the Knicks, Bulls and Heat, the front of Section 402 around row G is generally packed with other teams' "fans" and over the seasons there have been some great conversations with people wearing away colors including some hot tempers which needed to be cooled down once in a while when the Wizards ended up beating what were usually better visiting teams. Those conversations may have been fueled by some taunting from the home crowd, including me once in a very great while (I'm a sore winner when other teams' fans are in our building).

On the flip side, the seventh row of Section 402 is often deserted during mid-week games against less popular teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, which allowed us to spread out a little, use some empty seats to store our coats and stand when the game got too exciting to sit without obstructing someone else's view. I've seen some great games over the past decade with a handful of folks in section 402 on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Whether it's packed or empty, sitting in Section 402 is a great way to watch hoops, especially at $16 a game which has been the season ticket price the last half dozen years or so. Over the past few years, I've seen us beat Boston; New York; the suddenly chic Los Angeles Clippers; the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat; and the Oklahoma City Thunder with a Bradley Beal dagger with less than a second to go. Going back further in time, I've seen the Wizards clinch postseason berths and win playoff games from that same spot. Seems like a distant memory now but I know it happened.

But if there's a rub for me with row G of Section 402, it's the other people coming and going who obstruct my view during the game. Row G is above the entrance to the section and Section 402 is on the deep side of Verizon center so I am at constant risk of having other fans walking slowly or quickly, en masse or singly or sometimes clinging to the railing because it's "too high" in front of me and losing precious seconds of game action. In the past couple of years, we have had to tap the usher on the shoulder a few times a game to get him to stop watching the game and blocking out the entire west side of the court with his head and hair. There's ultimately nothing to be done about this other than to give up the upper deck seats or move. And there's no way I'm giving up good upper level seats while the cost is low, so moving is the only option.

So for the first time since I first bought season tickets way back in the fall of 2000, I no longer have seats in Section 402, row G for a Washington Wizards game. This past spring, I managed to upgrade our seats at a Select-A-Seat event, which allows season ticket holders the opportunity to purchase seats released by other season ticket holders before they are offered to the general public. Our new seats are in row C (still on the aisle) in Section 415. The four rows make a ton of difference. Because row C is level with the tunnel to the section, the only other patrons passing in front of me (slowly/quickly/singly/en masse) are headed down to rows A and B. The view is pretty much identical to our old seats in Section 402 except closer and the court is now the correct side up.

My first opportunity to sit in my new seats was tonight's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets and I love them. Well worth the $0 cost upgrade. They are closer to the court, closer to the nearest Budweiser tap and closer to the men's room. I also get the express escalator for my convenience. Goodbye Section 402. Hello Section 415. Hopefully I can spend as long in 415 as I did in 402. Go Wizards!!

Our new view.

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