- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2018

Trying to catch the Washington Capitals in person next season? You better get in line now.

The Stanley Cup champions have experienced increased demand this summer for season tickets and partial-season ticket plans, the Capitals confirmed to The Washington Times. Single-game tickets for 2018-19 have not yet gone on sale.

The team captivated the city’s sports lovers last spring with a run to its first league championship in franchise history.

Defending Stanley Cup champions usually — but not always — see a modest bump in attendance the year after winning the championship, according to attendance data from ESPN. It isn’t easy to prove a correlation because of the small number of dominant teams; the Capitals are just the fifth different franchise to win the Cup since 2009.

The most dramatic increase since the 2004-05 lockout season came for the Carolina Hurricanes, a franchise in a non-traditional hockey market. The Hurricanes saw an 11 percent jump in attendance one season after winning the 2006 Stanley Cup, bringing in nearly 2,000 more fans per game.

The question simply might be where to put all these fans. The Capitals were not having trouble selling tickets to see Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby and their squad before they won the Cup.

Washington was ninth in the league in regular-season attendance last season with an average of 18,774 — finishing top 10 in the NHL for the first time in seven seasons.

Capital One Arena’s official capacity for hockey games is 18,506, but attendance numbers can exceed capacity when some teams sell standing-room-only tickets or temporary seats.

The Capitals also will enter 2018-19 with a streak of 415 sellouts for regular-season and postseason games played at Capital One Arena. It’s safe to say the streak will reach at least 416, as the team will raise its first Stanley Cup banner in the regular-season opener Oct. 3 against the Boston Bruins, a historic moment sure to draw fans to the rink.

There is still a ways to go before the Capitals catch up to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, who own the longest active sellout streak in the NHL at 531 games.

Season tickets are still a costly venture, as they are with any team. Packages range from $36 to $65 per game in the 400 level of the arena, $98 to $170 in the 100 level and as high as $520 per game for “VIP” tickets on the glass. Prices, which the Capitals announced in February, were raised by 5.7 percent on average.

Whether fans purchase season tickets or attend only one game next season, they will see a revamped in-arena entertainment experience. Monumental Sports and Entertainment is spending $40 million on offseason renovations to Capital One Arena including a “bus” for more spectators to ride the ice resurfacer and a new sound system, DJ stage, 3D projection system and digital signage.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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