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Leonsis on Verizon Center scheduling


(By Toni L. Sandys - TWP)


With Ted Leonsis set to assume ownership of Verizon Center, many Caps fans have hoped this will mean a more sympathetic home venue for their team. Among the oft-heard complaints, Caps fans have said that the temperature at Verizon is not optimal for good ice, the basketball team gets preference in the arena set-up, and the scheduling seems to include too many nods to circuses and horse shows and not enough to the professional sports tenants.

This was among the many issues Leonsis was asked about Friday at the National Press Club. (See also: the NHL's financial health and NBA free agency, John Wall, the Wizards' uniforms.) And Leonsis suggested that longtime critics of Verizon Center scheduling don't understand the pressures of owning that building.

"You know, there's a lot of misinformation out there," he said. "You know, [that] the Caps were not treated as well as they should because they were tenants. And the truth of the matter is that Mr. Pollin was a hero. He built the arena downtown in an area that when I went to Georgetown, I was told never go past 9th street. And today it's the cultural hub of the city. It's raised the tax base. It's generated revenues for the city. It's been one of the main engines to make the economy strong in D.C.

"But he built it when the city couldn't do what just about every other city does for a team: build a building. Let's be honest, the reason I was sold the Washington Capitals and had the opportunity to buy the rest was he couldn't handle the investments needed in the hockey team, the basketball team and the building.

"And so the building has a big mortgage on it. The city built a $700 million baseball stadium, and the rent that's paid is this much," he said, bringing his fingers closely together. "The state of Maryland built lots of stadiums for teams, and they pay this much in rent. We have this arena, and it has this much," he said, holding his arms wide apart.

"Hence, we have to pay off a mortgage. Hence, we have to book the arena. It has to be a hot arena so we can generate revenues. That's what's happened. Now, with that as backdrop, I think that I will try to make the Wizards, the Capitals and the Mystics the primary tenants. We'll schedule them first, and then we'll build around them. We have a [strong enough] partnership and balance sheet that we can over-index that way, but you need to understand, there's a price to pay for having that building built with private money.

"And sometimes, I don't like the ignorance inherent in some of the statements that are made. Because Mr. Pollin built that building, and there's a sign called Pollin Way, but it's under-appreciated as an asset to have three professional sports teams in downtown and now have the Shakespeare Theater across the street, and that hub of people all moving, 79,000 people moved into Washington, D.C. last year from the suburbs and from out of town. And I really believe that a lot of it has to do with Mr. Pollin's vision of building that building, and having the gumption to live with that decision."

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 24, 2010; 9:12 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Wizards  
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Comments

The quality of ice issue is a problem, but are people really complaining about the circuses and horse shows at Verizon Center? Every arena has that kind of stuff every year. For decades, the Verizon Center and the Cap Centre before that have had the horse show in late October and the Ice Capades or something like that in February or March. The Caps and Wizards have to go on a Western road trip at some point during the season--so it's then.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 24, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

well said Ted, DC is the place to be,and a lot of that is thanks to Abe.
George Marshall
Abe Polin
Ted Leonsis

We just need a owner with the name Tom, and we can do our own Washington Monument of DC sports.

Posted by: alex35332 | May 24, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Me thinks, cap's fans won't be truly happy until we replace the old DC Armory with a 20,000 seat stadium just for the Caps.

Posted by: alex35332 | May 24, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Alex, that would make me really happy.

Posted by: FusilliJerry1 | May 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan, I'd be happy with a few more Saturday night home games.

Last year, the Caps had 6 Saturday home games total. 2 in october, 1 in November, 1 in December, 1 in January, 0 in February (Olympic break didn't help) 1 in March and 0 in April.


The Wiz had 10 Saturday home games total, and their season is a few weeks shorter than the Caps.
2 in November, 1 in December, 3 in January, 1 in february, 2 in March, and 1 in April.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | May 24, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

He said the arena has to be hot. I'm sure he didn't mean it the way I'm thinking.

I know this is a crazy dream, but I'd like to see Ted put some money into his alma mater's McDonough Gym and make it the normative home court for the Hoya's and at least take them out of the conflicts with the Caps. I'm remembering at least twice last season where we had poor ice due to recent Hoya games.

Posted by: LouLewis | May 24, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It is the humidity and the temperature that makes the poor ice quality. Other multi-use venues have purchased equipment to lower the humidity levels. From his response, it appears that this is not in the plans. It is not just Caps fans with this concern; Capitals players have commented on the poor ice quality. The complaint by Caps fans is not just to whine; it is concern for the health of the players. Guess it will take $16 million in salary on injured reserve for the season due to injuries caused by the ice conditions before something is done to really fix the problem. I was fine with less Saturday night games as it meant less evening games following an afternoon Hoyas games, which made for really bad ice.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | May 24, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Two biggest issues as a Caps fan is the ice conditions and scheduling afternoon basketball games before a hockey game that night.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | May 24, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

More happy talk from Leonsis. Bunch of gobble de gook. Fact is, Leonsis himself went nuts over scheduling at times, including going public when the Caps got screwed in playoff scheduling in the early 90's. And the ice is in fact an issue. Leonsis denies it but a number of his players have spoken out about it. I'd tend to rely more on them. How about Leonsis commenting on the fact that the Chicago Black Hawks, which started their rebuild AFTER Leonsis' heralded rebuilding plan for the Caps, are now poised to be in the finals and probably win the CUP? Meanwhile, the Caps underachieve and we get happy talk from Leonsis. The media really has to stop giving this guy a pass.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 24, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

A Washington Mystics home playoff game was moved to College Park last year due to a prebooked dinosaur show at Verizon Center. That kind of humiliation should never be allowed to occur to a Leonsis-owned team again.

Posted by: evwill | May 24, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

well said Ted, DC is the place to be,and a lot of that is thanks to Abe.
George Marshall
Abe Polin
Ted Leonsis

Posted by: alex35332 | May 24, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm not high on canonizing George Preston Marshall, given his racist views.


A Washington Mystics home playoff game was moved to College Park last year due to a prebooked dinosaur show at Verizon Center. That kind of humiliation should never be allowed to occur to a Leonsis-owned team again.

Posted by: evwill | May 24, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse


Yeah, that was ridiculous!

Posted by: stwasm | May 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Pollin as a team owner has always driven me absolutely crazy, but Leonsis is right about his contributions to downtown. Immeasurable. Thanks, Abe.

Posted by: DKSW | May 24, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Marshall was a despicable racist. The Redskins were the last team in the NFL to sign a black player - and that only happened because the Secretary of the Interior threatened to revoke the Redskins' lease on RFK (not RFK at the time obviously). Sorry, but anyone listing him as a great owner needs a history lesson.

Posted by: HeShootsHeScores | May 24, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse


No Caps Saturday home games just means the ability to stay home and watch Hockey Night in Canada.

win/win

Posted by: metatext | May 24, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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