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Leonsis removes Mystics attendance banners

The attendance banners were a joke from the start. Even to WNBA writers.

In June of 2000, the team's mascot "was introduced amid much smoke and fireworks as the Mystics raised their Best WNBA Attendance banner," the Orlando Sentinel reported then.

"If we can raise a WNBA championship banner to go with the attendance banners, [fans] will go ballistic," Chamique Holdsclaw told USA Today two years later.

"During a halftime ceremony, the Mystics hoisted another attendance banner, the fourth time in five seasons the Mystics have raised a flag honoring their fans," the Washington Times reported at the end of the 2002 season. "And to honor the occasion, Mystics' fans sang the national anthem accompanied by organ music."

Maybe if D.C. teams were regularly winning titles, no one would care. If the attendance banners were just accents to all the conference and division titles, maybe you could overlook it. But no Verizon Center tenant has won a league championship since the building opened, and that made the banners a regular punchline for visiting fans and visiting writers -- the Montreal Gazette's Canadiens writer made mention of the banners this spring. And they were especially grating to the sardonic home fans.

So with Ted Leonsis nearing control of Verizon Center and all its professional tenants, the suggestions were obvious. William F. Yurasko included attendance banner removal among his six suggestions for Leonsis, writing simply that "those things are embarrassing."

"It just seems silly, and condescending, to put up banners celebrating the fact that people attend Mystics games," Kyle Weidie argued.

"Please, win a trophy, not a turnstyle, before touting it in the rafters," requested Rick Snider, who included banner removal among his eight Leonsis suggestions.

These suggestions were all given within the last two weeks. Usually in sports, common-sense suggestions are tossed into some sweat-stained bucket and jammed into a locker. But this one was exposed to glorious sunlight. From Leonsis's blog announcing the change:

The only banners we should display revolve around winning a division or conference or league championship. So to all of the folks who have emailed me your thoughts over the years about the attendance banners- as a heads up know they are no longer up in the rafters.

Huzzah to that. No banners for leading the league in season ticket waitlists, or nacho sales, or per-capita blogs. If the rafters remain vacant, so be it. An empty belly is better than one filled with nothing but Twinkies and Boone's Farm, and so it is with sporting arenas.

More positive reviews:

Off Wing Opinion: "The fact of the matter is that those banners have been the object of scorn and derision ever since the first one was raised to the rafters following the 1998 WNBA season. I can still remember the first time I saw it, and then pointed it out to my friends in the season immediately following the run the Caps had to the Stanley Cup Finals that same year. We had a good long laugh at its expense."

Tim Lemke Sports: "Not sure what took Leonsis so long, but I guess this is part of ushering in a new way of doing things now that he owns the Verizon Center and three major teams in the city."

Deadspin: "Ted Leonsis: Greatest Owner Ever?"

Next up: Change the color schemes of the Wizards and Mystics, please.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 8, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Mystics , Wizards  
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Next: Larry Johnson, the Skins and Bronko Nagurski


What is most needed to win: FIRE GRUNFELD NOW! About the most incompetent boob in the league!

Posted by: iubiquity | May 8, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: mojo975 | May 8, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The WNBA attendance banners were a product of the shill-driven management style of that carnival-barker Susan O'Malley, who never met a disengenuous represenation that she didn't like.

This is the one who regularly lied about Bullets/Wizards attendance figures, claiming that the complete empty sections in the upper levels were due to people walking around MCI Center. She also dishonestly handled the renaming of the team, fixing the "contest" sponsored by WRC to arrange the "Wizards" outcome. That was just the end game in the plan to change the name and the team colors, manipulating Mr. Pollin into supporting the name change in the name of ending support for gun violence. If she was so bent on changing the team's name in the interest of making a statement about gun violence, why did she continue to support the sale of products in the MCI Center bearing the "Bullets" name?

The best aspect of Leonsis taking over this team is putting a complete end to the O'Malley legacy.

Posted by: lgm6986 | May 8, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What's a WNBA?

Posted by: Scoonie97 | May 8, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Leonsis! Those things have been a complete embarrassment for years. Celebrating that kind of achievement is just pathetic. Especially when you give away thousands of tickets and hang super lame banners declaring how you had to cheat to win at something nobody gives a crap about. I wonder what other changes for good Leonsis has in store.

Posted by: futbolclif | May 8, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Good call Ted. They were the lamest thing ever put in the rafters of any building ever built for sports.

Posted by: marksman37 | May 8, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Instead of auctioning them off, Leonsis should just give them back to La Sooz...

Posted by: CapsNut | May 8, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

If it was something on the court ... say most points of any team, I could see it. But butts in the seats, when the WNBA is very highly subsidized by the NBA and we have no idea how many people paid full price for tickets (and the full price is subsidized, of course, well, they are indeed an embarrassment. If they won a championship and then wanted to put up a banner saying "Thank you fans" that would be OK too. Not that I can remember who the WNBA champions are, except it is not the Mystics.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | May 8, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to buy one of those things on eBay for $5.12 in a few years.

Posted by: ThisGuy | May 9, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Just fyi, Pens are up on the Habs 3 games to 2. Pens getting closer to another Cup?

Enjoy it Steinberg

Posted by: popopo | May 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

hasn't Ted owned the Mystics for five years or so now? What took so long?

Posted by: swinging4thefence | May 9, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Next up: Change the color schemes of the Wizards and Mystics, please.

By Dan Steinberg | May 8, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
Categories: Caps , Mystics , Wizards


I mean that in the Teddy Roosevelt way not the guy who took your lunch money way.

Posted by: alex35332 | May 10, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Add in Jerseys and retired numbers to things you can put up in the rafters

Posted by: alex35332 | May 10, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

mmmm twinkies and boones farm, the breakfast of champions, and we need to be the bullets again and rock the red white and blue jerseys

Posted by: bford1kb | May 10, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Next up: Change the color schemes of the Wizards and Mystics, please.

By Dan Steinberg | May 8, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
Categories: Caps , Mystics , Wizards

mmmm twinkies and boones farm, the breakfast of champions, and we need to be the bullets again and rock the red white and blue jerseys

Posted by: bford1kb | May 10, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

We can return to the red, white and blue, but Gilbert's escapades pretty much ensures that the name Bullets can never return to this team.

And Scoonie, don't be a troll!

Posted by: stwasm | May 11, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

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