The home portion of the Washington Wizards 2012-2013 schedule came to an unceremonious ending last night with a lackluster 97-86 loss to the also struggling Philadelphia 76ers. After reeling off nine consecutive wins at Verizon Center, the team dropped its last two to New York and Philly to end the season with a 22-19 home record. Not bad, but not great.
There's no doubt in my mind when the Wizards season comes to a close on Wednesday on the road against the Chicago Bulls that this wasn't the season I'd hoped for back in October. But injuries to John Wall and Nenê early in the year and then struggles with chemistry and getting John back into playing shape just dug us too deep an early season hole that we couldn't recover from. But while my team's performance on the court may have been below my expectations, there's one part of the game experience this year that far exceeded my pre-season expectations: the Chipotle Burrito Dash!
There is no shortage of in game entertainment at an NBA game. The league is definitely erring on the side of caution when it comes to crowd engagement, whether it be the kiss cam, t-shirt toss, halftime shows, dunking, audience contests or anything else they have going on during timeouts and other stoppages in play. There's no way they are going to let a minute pass without something to distract you. And most of this stuff I absolutely hate. But not the Burrito Dash, for one simple reason: if it works out correctly for me, I end up with a free Chipotle meal.
|Oooh! Oooh! Me! Me! Me! The beginning of the Burrito Dash.|
I can't remember when the Burrito Dash first appeared at Verizon Center but it's been years and years now. Back when they started this promotion, they used to hand (and sometimes toss which could be messy) actual burritos to people in the crowd. I believe, based on the reaction of one guy in front of us many years ago, that the burritos they gave away contained only beans and rice so if you "won" the Burrito Dash you ended up with a very filling, probably not as tasty as a personally ordered Chipotle meal in your hands when you likely weren't hungry anyway.
But then a few years ago, they changed the contest. Instead of an actual burrito, you got handed or tossed (way easier to toss these) a shrink wrapped Chipotle t-shirt compressed into the shape and size of a burrito and wrapped in foil. The t-shirt is OK, but the real prize in underneath the rubber band around the t-shirt: a coupon (in farmer trading card form which is awesome) for a free meal at Chipotle. There are a lot of opportunities each game for me to wave my arms, jump in the air or dance during a Wizards game and I decline to participate in all these opportunities except for the Burrito Dash. That coupon is worth yelling, screaming and waving my arms to get one tossed my way.
|The farmer trading card (aka coupon) is the real prize here.|
With Friday night's loss, I closed the book on 39 Wizards home games this season at Verizon Center. 29 of those games were witnessed from my season seats in Section 109 just five rows behind the hockey boards (I spent the other ten games elsewhere in VC far out of the reach of t-shirts tossed into the crowd). Of those 29 contests, I walked out of six of those games with a Chipotle coupon which I consider to be an excellent success rate. Better than one out of every five games I came away from a Wizards game with a free delicious Chipotle burrito. That alone is worth the price of admission to those six games.
The reward for me is consistent: a burrito with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, either chicken or carnitas, tomatillo-red chile salsa, sour cream and cheese. I always get the same thing and I absolutely LOVE it every time. I don't know how they make some of this stuff taste so good. I wish they would publish their cilantro-lime rice and tomatillo-red chile salsa recipes. I've tried and failed at duplicating the salsa a couple of times; that sweet and spicy stuff alone is well worth the block and half walk from my home. I'd probably crawl for that salsa if I had to.
I just finished my last meal redemption about an hour ago and I'm now all out of coupons and I just have to say thank God for this place! I'll be back at Verizon Center next fall jumping up and down to get more t-shirts and coupons tossed my way. In the meantime, I'll be gladly paying for my meals.
|The payoff! I'd eat these every day if I thought it was healthy.|
Oh, I almost forgot the subject of this post. Paul Willis is a hog farmer (sorry...hog farming crusader) and supplier of pork for Chipotle to turn into delicious carnitas. I think it's fantastic that Chipotle recognizes their suppliers and puts them on coupons masquerading as trading cards complete with foil accents. I'd keep these as part of my Wizards card collection if they weren't tradable for food.