Every time a Washington D.C. team makes the postseason and faces a late start time on a week night, local fans and media demand that the city leave its Metro system running a little past its usual 11:30 p.m. closing time. And every time, the city points out that extending Metro hours comes at a cost of about $100,000 an hour. Sometimes a private company eventually pays to keep the metro open in exchange for some publicity. Otherwise, fans are left to find alternate ways home postgame.
With the Washington Capitals hosting a pair of Eastern Conference Finals games at 8 p.m. this week, Metro needed some benefactors once again. Excelon and Pepco stepped up for Tuesday night’s Game 3, as they did for Nationals playoff games last fall. And as for Thurday’s Game 4… the hero was not who you would expect. Via the Washington Post:
On Tuesday, Evans told The Washington Post that the tiny, wealthy nation of Qatar has agreed to pay the $100,000 fee to keep Metro open until 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, when the Capitals host Game 4. That game also is set for an 8 p.m. start.
Evans led a delegation of D.C. government officials and private business representatives to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates last April in hopes of getting foreign investors interested D.C. projects. The government of Qatar previously invested heavily in the development of D.C.’s City Center.
Qatar, if you’re not aware, is a small but extravagantly wealthy country in the middle east, known to sports fans as the highly controversial host of the 2022 World Cup. And apparently some people there are so committed to pleasing their D.C. business partners that they’re willing to drop 100 grand on hockey fans riding the subway.
This is a thoroughly bizarre arrangement, one that feels almost uncomfortable. But we imagine Capitals fans won’t be complaining Thursday.