File this away under unexpected connections: The Washington D.C. Metro announced on Monday that it would stay open an hour later so that fans attending Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Capitals and Lightning could get home safely. That announcement has since been reversed according to NBC Washington, but what the Metro didn't announce was the stranger than fiction reason why Thursday was supposed to have extended hours.
On Tuesday, the businesses Exelon and Pepco footed a $100,000 fee to keep the Metro open after Game 3. That's capitalism. It's good branding. It makes sense. On Thursday, however, the country of Qatar was also hoping to keep the lines open for fans, which raises a lot of questions, all of which start with, "Why?"
Lines normally close at 11:30, meaning that for an 8 p.m. start it could be difficult to get a lift home. With the additional funding, the Metro runs until 12:30, giving fans a bit of a cushion to catch the train once the game is over.
Qatar, for those who need a refresher, is predominately in the headlines in the sporting world for its controversial status hosting the 2022 World Cup. Metro Board Chair Jack Evans has spearheaded talks between a U.S. delegation and Qatar/the United Arab Emirates. Those talks were conducted with the hope that foreign investors could help with projects in D.C. they were interested in, according to The Washington Post. Apparently, Evans' efforts paid off -- although who knew Qatar would be so interested in hockey?
(Those efforts have since been thwarted, as NBC Washington's Adam Tuss reported that the deal "seems to have come undone.")
But Evans is all-in on the Capitals -- who made the conference finals this season for the first time since 1998 -- and allowing fans to get home later is just the first step. He also wants to have watch parties for Caps games.
"Wouldn't that be great if we had 10,000 people sitting on the museum steps there, across from [Capital One Arena] watching the game?" Evans said, per The Post. "People who can't necessarily afford to go into the arena and pay could be outside watching it, or even on game night in Tampa Bay, to use the arena for people to come and watch the game."
Even though Evans didn't get a watch party for Game 3 and likely won't for Game 4, there's no doubting the city's commitment to the team. Watch parties have become a big part of major sports cities' fan experience, with Toronto's tending to get the most coverage.
While there's almost certainly enough interest in the team to have these types of parties, the logistics are tricky. Who knows, maybe Qatar can swoop in and close off some city blocks to grant Evans his wish of letting fans watch playoff hockey outside.