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Brown wants prize fighting at the Armory, but would settle for roller skating

Mixed martial arts at the D.C. Armory? That's something D.C. Councilmember-At-Large Kwame Brown could fight for. He's also for big ticket boxing and a roller rink for the kids.

These potential revenue generating ideas were discussed today at a hearing of the Committee on Economic Development, which Brown chairs. He invited D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chief Executive Erik Moses to the council chambers to chat about it.

Moses made an opening statement, but Brown did most of the talking. He picked up on Moses' mention that in addition to hosting the new D.C. Armor arena football squad, the Armory hosts a roller derby competition. Brown reminisced about the days when he was a young roller skater at the old Kalorama, gliding to disco sounds.

"I met a young lady there," Brown said. Maybe D.C. could have that again, courtesy of the Armory. "In order to be a family friendly city, we need to act like a family friendly city, and we shouldn't have to take our kids to a Chucky Cheeses in Maryland," or, presumably, a roller rink, Brown said.

In the hot seat, behind a microphone, Moses said transforming the Armory into a roller rink "is a great idea. I wish I had thought of it." Except there was one problem. The Kalorama, Brown acknowledged during a recess, shut its doors partly because of constant fist fighting by its patrons.

The fighting that people might actually pay to see -- mixed martial arts and boxing -- is harder to attract, Moses said. Fight promoters want to see fannies in seats, and in the past, the Armory hasn't attracted enough spectators. Moses has no marketing budget and no real marketing agent, other than himself.

"We don't have the revenue to scour the country looking for the next big boxing match," Moses said.

Plus, the 10,000-seat venue is not ideal. In order to play there, the D.C. Armor must bring its own gear: footballs, pads, field markers, and air-conditioners. The Armory doesn't have central air. The restrooms are not what you might call quality. And the dressing rooms are less quality.

That didn't stop Brown from throwing out ideas to Moses. What about rock climbing? "Those are the kinds of things I can get behind," the councilmember said. "Rock climbing. I'm using that as an example. I'm not completely serious."

Brown was on a roll. Before he finished, Brown said the District should be the scene for more motion pictures. Baltimore, he said, is out hustling the city in that regard. He asked Moses about bringing the Washington Redskins back to town.

"As soon as I get a billion dollars," Moses said. In a city struggling with a budget shortfall, a city that is losing the small D.C. United soccer team to Maryland, "soon" is the distant future.

By Darryl Fears  |  February 24, 2009; 8:30 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Council  
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