Why Are the Verizon Center Seats Purple?
So last week in my chat, I wondered why the Verizon Center seats were purple. I mean, purple? Granted, it's my daughter's favorite color, but it's not a color that you immediately associate with D.C. sports.
Soon after, I got two e-mails from readers.
"I remember when the arena opened, Abe Pollin said that his wife, Irene, picked the seat color because purple is her favorite color," Reader John said.
"I was once traveling and met a woman whose job it was to pick out fabric for sports arenas. I recall she said she had just done the Verizon Center and picked out a purple color because it looked good on TV," Reader David said.
Two different answers! Controversy! I went into the Post's archives for more.
Here was critic Benjamin Forgey, writing in November of 1997
The seating bowl is a handsome, commodious affair. Arranged in three tiers, it provides excellent sight lines to the playing floor even from the highest seat in the third tier (although the steep rake of those third-tier seats is discomfiting). At first, the coloration seems surprisingly neutral. The seats are a subdued purple, and even the spectacular steel trusses necessary to span more than 350 feet are rendered almost invisible by coats of gray paint and swooping, gray acoustical baffles. But the idea here is to look down rather than up. Animation and color will be provided by thousands of spectators, a 360-degree ring of signs on the bulkhead of the third tier, and a huge four-sided video scoreboard -- one of those signature chandeliers of late 20th-century sports.
Remember how tiny that scoreboard seemed by the end of its life? Crazy how chandeliers change in just a decade. Then here's critic Roger K. Lewis, in the same month:
The bowl is another world, one that is quite elegant, especially when viewed empty. All the seats are a single, vivid but pleasant shade of purple, rather than color-coded by section. The extraordinarily complex collage of overhead elements -- steel roof trusses and bracing, decking, catwalks, duct work, conduits, acoustic baffles -- are all painted one color, charcoal gray. The gray hue unifies the disparate elements chromatically but doesn't obscure perception of the ceiling's wonderful, high-tech texture.
So it was pleasant, granted. Then-Caps coach Ron Wilson agreed, saying he liked the color scheme and calling it "a bright, happy place," in a bit of Hemingway-ese. The color has also frequently been mentioned in a snarky vein, as in "empty purple seats masquerading as Caps fans," and so on. But, why purple?
So finally, I called Matt Williams, the executive vice president of Washington Sports & Entertainment, to ask. He noted that it's been a while since the seat color were chosen, and so this is all to the best of his recollection. And there doesn't seem to be a dramatic reason.
"To be honest, I think what they were trying to do was come up with a seat that looked good for every event in there, not just Wizards, not just Caps, not just Mystics, not just Georgetown," Williams said. "And the designer, because of our original scheme, had yellow section markers, so this went well with that. It's not a hard core purple, it's more of a blueish purple. That's what I remember....They didn't want it to be something on the outlandish side, they wanted something somewhat understated."
So there you go. Better than another post about Jason Campbell, right?
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