Nation of Qatar backs out of agreement to keep DC Metro open for Capitals-Lightning

The nation of Qatar has reportedly backed out of an agreement to do a favor for Capitals fans during Game 4 of the NHL Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

According to The Washington Post, the Middle Eastern country was going to take part in the newest DC sports tradition: paying the city’s Metro service to stay open late during a playoff game so fans can get home. Qatar agreed to pay for extended service for the DC Metro the night of Game 4 of Capitals-Lightning, while energy companies Exelon and Pepco are footing the bill for Game 3 on Tuesday.

However, due to a reported contractual dispute, Qatar will no longer pay the fee to keep the Metro open. There is currently no sponsor in line to keep the Metro open Thursday.

Why does the DC Metro need to be paid to extend service for the Capitals?

On Monday through Thursday, the DC Metro system closes at 11:30 p.m. It does not make exceptions for sports games, so if a game goes into overtime or extra innings, it could leave loyal fans needing a different ride home. This is a somewhat frequent occurrence over at Nationals Park, where fans will boo announcements that the last train of the night is about to roll into Navy Yard station.

What Qatar and Exelon are doing is paying the Metro a $100,000 fee to keep the service running an extra hour until 12:30 a.m. Since the puck is scheduled to drop at the Capital One Arena around 8 p.m. local time on both Tuesday and Thursday in DC, both games could have gotten awfully cozy with that 11:30 p.m. closing time.

Why did Qatar agree to keep the Metro open for a Capitals game?

Some entities pay to sponsor a special section of a stadium, some pay to sponsor a giveaway and some pay to sponsor the fans’ ride home. In Qatar’s case, it’s doing the last option. Qatar has been recently investing heavily in construction projects around DC, so the move was likely engineered toward developing goodwill from residents of the city.

Many Capitals fans won’t have to worry about their ride home if their game against the Lightning goes to overtime. (Getty Images)

Is this the first time the DC Metro has been paid to extend service?

In the past, teams like the Nationals have directly paid the Metro to stay open late, but the price was hiked up in 2016 from $29,500 to $100,000. Teams balked at the price surge and left fans to figure out a ride home.

Last year, it appeared such a situation would happen again to the Nationals during Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cubs until Exelon–who is sponsoring Game 3 of this NHL series–stepped in and paid the Metro to stay open an extra hour.

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