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Leonsis promises "hundreds of changes"

The Wizards' on-court changes have been much-discussed since Ted Leonsis took over. He wants his team to be younger, faster, more cohesive, John Wallier, etc.

The off-court changes, though, haven't been as easy to see. Leonsis has previously talked about how fan complaints go all the way down to the type of ketchup dispenser used at Verizon Center, and today he enumerated a few more of the prospective changes.

"There'll be hundred and hundreds," he said on 106.7 The Fan's Mike Wise Show. "I'm in my office today and it looks like a war zone. I take to heart what people say."

Then Leonsis described just how many fans have complained, for example, that the urinals in the Verizon Center men's rooms don't have an appropriate place to store beer.

"So they go to the bathroom and they put their beer [cups] in their mouth," he said. "Isn't that great? See that image in your mind's eye. We've literally been putting little ledges over the urinals so that people can put their cups, right? We know that sounds [funny], the ketchup sounds funny, building a little cup holder over the urinals, but we're gonna do hundreds of those kind of things, so the experience is great and it improves and fans know we listen to them.

"And if we're doing all that and the team is improving, we'll end up with magic. That's what we did with the Caps. The team got better and the level of services got better, and all that came together at the same time, and now we have one of the best teams in the league and we're sold out every game....

"I'm gonna re-do everything," he continued, when asked about the game-day embellishments. "I think we want to change the lighting; that's something we're looking into so it's more traditional, like the Garden and L.A. You will see hundreds of visible signs of change."

Co-host Holden Kushner later asked for more examples.

"The fans have told us, they would like more respect to the game, and tune down the music, tune down a lot of the defense chants, maybe pay a little bit more active homage to the past," he said, detailing how many older players he's reached out too, and how he hopes that they can deal both with fans and with current players. "We're gonna try to do as many things as we can to reactivate the van base, because this is a basketball-mad city. The place loves basketball. And if we give them a good product and we service our [customers], I think we'll sell out these games, just the way we sell out every Caps game."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 20, 2010; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Leonsis: Wizards will have one of NBA's best backcourts


Sweet! I emailed him about the lighting!

Love the way the lighting is in LA. Easier to see the game, fluorescent lights suck. Looks more professional too.

Posted by: gidge | July 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Bring back the Mascot Hoops!

Posted by: MrWillie | July 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

18 months training in a Tibetan Monastery learning the intricate secrets of balancing a beer cup on an egg-shaped urinal... WASTED!!!

Posted by: mini_dagger | July 20, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Wait, so Caps fans don't have a problem holding their beers while they pee? Don't they use the same arena?

Posted by: rusty_spatula | July 20, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

They should, in fact, sell beer in the bathrooms too. Never miss an opportunity.

Posted by: dcunitedfan3 | July 20, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Bring back the Mascot Hoops!"

I second this! ;)

I have emailed Ted serval times, he really does read your emails....and responds. It also looks like he's paying attention, some of the ideas I have thrown him have made it to this article. I'm sure I am not the only one who has suggested some of this however.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | July 20, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

And is this why he's been too busy to offer all their cap room to a top-tier free agent this summer?

Posted by: rusty_spatula | July 20, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Caps fans are ambidextrious. Beer in one hand .... in other. Wizards fans keep 2 hands on the ball.

Posted by: chillwill1 | July 20, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Somebody please send Leonsis' playbook to Daniel Snyder. Leonsis thinks about the little things and makes lots of little changes that add up over time to big changes. Ever since Snyder took over the team, Snyder's minions seems to have focused on producing noisy, garish spectacles that have done little if anything but cheapen the fan experience while raising prices. Rising prices + declining service = a feeling that the fans have been getting ripped off. Ironically, Snyder seems to get the most blame for something he wasn't responsible for: FedEx Field. FedEx Field seems more and more like a huge mistake. Ted Leonsis has a major advantage over Dan Snyder simply by virtue of where the Verizon Center is located with Metro access and a vibrant local scene. Ted offers a smalltown customer service ethic in a bigtime market. What an amazing role model!

Posted by: dannykurland1 | July 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, an owner who actually LISTENS and CARES about HIS CUSTOMER

Now, who around these parts DOES NOT resemble this?

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I think we should all be a little John Wallier.

Posted by: EYoung77 | July 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Caps fans probably have equal trouble, but Ted didn't own the building until last month. The real question is why did Abe Pollin want you to drop your beer while you were peeing?

Posted by: pondaz | July 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

YES the lighting! Dark seats and a brightly-lit court are the way to go - makes everything more professional and cinematic. Plus, it focuses the audience's attention more directly on the game itself, which creates a more intense vibe. That dorky diffused lighting that they used to have needs to go.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | July 20, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Leonsis,

Could you please buy the Redskins and Nationals as well? All these changes you're making for the Wizards would do wonders for our other area franchises. Especially the Redskins.

Posted by: FloresFan | July 20, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Bring back the Mascot Hoops!

Posted by: MrWillie | July 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The greatest mascot in sports was replaced by the worst. BRING BACK HOOOOOOOOPS!!!

Posted by: Barno1 | July 20, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I like Leonsis, but I would have liked to hear something about changes directly related to the team. That stuff sounds like he's working on selling out the arena 42 times first...I understand the business but I hope alot of the "hundreds of changes" are figuring out what to do with the cap space, whether or not to re-sign Josh Howard (because we only have one three man) getting gil's stock back up to trade him or figure out how to incorporate him with what's happening...figure out how to get an experienced center on this roster, figuring out if Nick Young has a future here and if not, what is his trade value? how can we get another young star to grow with Wall?

Posted by: jwmartin_72 | July 20, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

change the colors back to red white and blue.
change the name back to bullets.
bring back the you the man video.
resign robert pack and tim legler.
bring back hoops.
change the seat color.
take down the three-peat attendance champs banners - done.
take the pictures of the retired caps players down and replace with there numbers - done.
ledge for beer in pisser.
no more music blaring while the team is playing.
the defense chant is pathetic.
maybe win a few games.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | July 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Good to see and hear but until he works hardest on finding a winner on the court, these changes will go unnoticed

Posted by: Bious | July 20, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Anyone that brings a cup of beer into the men's room is a mutant.

Posted by: nativedc | July 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The cheerleaders need to dance at least twice a half by the way. The Wiz dance squad is notoriously lazy IMO.

No defense chant? Isn't that counterproductive? Shouldn't the fans be allowed to chant as they please?

Posted by: elfreako | July 20, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Please Ted. Buy the Nats and Skins.

Posted by: boyn4884 | July 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering--what do the ladies do with their beer in the restroom?

Posted by: capsfan77 | July 20, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Funny seeing Wizards fans flim flammed by Leonsis and his happy talk. Caps fans know better.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse


Simple answer. We tend to buy our drinks AFTER we use the restrooms. I can't say that I recall this an issue in the ladies' room at Caps games.

Is it hockey season yet??

Posted by: LEM66 | July 20, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Regarding: "Somebody please send Leonsis' playbook to Daniel Snyder. Leonsis thinks about the little things and makes lots of little changes that add up over time to big changes. Ever since Snyder took over the team, Snyder's minions seems to have focused on producing noisy, garish spectacles that have done little if anything but cheapen the fan experience while raising prices."

Part of the problem trying to do with the Redskins "experience" compared to that of the Wizards "experience" is there are only a small number of revenue opportunities in football and you have different expectations.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, for some), a lot of poeple like the large, noisy, garish spectacles at football stadiums (just as many like the smokey, dark openings and the presentation of basketball "gladiators" running onto the floor). And it was an interesting observation that "Ted offers a smalltown customer service ethic in a bigtime market." But you can do that easier with a relatively small, indoor facility than a much larger, outdoor facility (even if it were dome-covered). It's somewhat the difference between operating/maintaining Wolf Trap's lawn stage and operating/maintaining the Kennedy Center. Similar in that they're venues, but entirely different challenges.

Posted by: Dungarees | July 20, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ted is the man.

I'm sure he's looking into making more quick changes than major one's this year. Smart. If you've worked in management at all major changes can bog you down and in the end you get nothing done. At least this way change is happening.

The name change and colors will probably be year 2 or 3. I for one would like to be done with the colors and name; and if Arenas didn't screw it up for good, return to the Bullets. The "Wizards" never caught on, and neither the name or the colors have any D.C. feel to it, or tradition, like the Redskins,Nationals, and Capitals do. They have to have one or the other.

As far as contrasting with Snyder there's no comparison. I'd take Ted any day over Snyder who has ruined the franchise although Fedex was not all his fault Snyder was a part of upgrading it and putting in obstructed seats for crying out loud. For God sakes come up with a way to get people in their seats on time. I've managed to make it on time to Fedex one time in about 20 games using every means possible to get there (car, subway, etc.). Horrible.

As far as the Lerners the jury is still out. I have had great game day experiences (minus the losing)at Nationals Park, I'm a novice baseball fan, so I may be missing something when it comes to the experience, so forgive me otherwise.

Posted by: Eman8 | July 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Leonsis' is implicitly indicting Abe Pollin in a big way. Now I happen to believe that is appropriate because Pollin was a terrible owner. But it just shows how duplicitious Leonsis is, given his past effusive praise for Pollin.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that Leonsis is indicting Mr. Polin in any way, let alone in a big way. They're from different generations and backgrounds in marketing to the public. They have generational differences in what they think the public wants or what's of concern.

Here's an example from a local minor league baseball team: The stadium sells soda in large cups of ice at the concession stand. The new concession operator sells the same thing except he also has vendors in the stands selling cups of soda poured from cans (that the vendor keeps so there's less trash) into empty cups. The newest concession operator eliminates selling soda in cups of ice and instead sells plastic bottles of soda with the idea that it's easier to handle and people can close the tops and there's less spillage. However, the bottles of soda are considerably more expensive than "fountain" soda. Which way is right/which way is wrong? That's the Polin/Leonsis difference; they just look at different things and the look at the same things differently. That doesn't mean that Mr. Leonsis disrespects Mr. Polin.

Posted by: Dungarees | July 20, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't the Caps and Wiz play in the same building? Wouldn't these types of things be the same (shelf for beer at urinals?). Got to love Ted.

Posted by: KDSmallJr | July 20, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Did he include raising the price for single game ticket prices for Caps games in that list of hundreds of changes? The seating chart with single same ticket prices is up and there are now 4 price categories compared to 3 last season. Upper level Mezzanine centers single game prices are %65, $80, $95, and $110. The highest single game price last season for those seats was $90, if I recall correctly.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | July 20, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Ted Leonsis,

Please buy the Washington Redskins.


Redskins Fanbase

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 20, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

so the beer holder we be about eye level right. i just don't want guys starting a new contest at the urinals if they are lower than that.

Posted by: whomp1 | July 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

It's very impressive how responsive Leonsis is to fans' suggestions/problems. Another example: At the Caps convention last year, there weren't enough seats in the area where the programs with Boudreau, the players, etc. were held. Many people had to stand the whole time. And two days later, on his blog, Leonsis wrote that next year, they'd have more seats in that area.

Not only should Ted buy the Nats and Skins, he should be in charge of Metro.

Posted by: TheFingerman | July 20, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not bringing my beer anywhere near the urinals. Period. It's a definite Leonsis is going red with the uniforms. I don't like red, but I'll live with it. I'm giving up my season tickets the day I hear fake crowd noise at a Wiz game, but it sounds like Ted won't be going there. However, the Wiz always get going when the fans get in the game, so they need the De-fence chant bad, and also the crowd needs to go crazy at the big three pointer or defensive stop, to get the players juiced up.

Posted by: ragtop4spd | July 20, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

uhhh can you lower the ticket prices please? thats really the kicker as a ticket to a basketball game seems mighty excessive these days.

Posted by: raybell84 | July 20, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

No defense chant? Isn't that counterproductive? Shouldn't the fans be allowed to chant as they please?

Posted by: elfreako | July 20, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Of course they should. The idea is that piping in "chants" over the PA is actually counter to letting the fans chant what they want. Let the fans be the fans, not the guy with the soundboard on the PA.

Posted by: Brashnir | July 20, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad they are putting cup holders on the urinals. Usually I have one hand holding my beer the other hand holding my Wizard.

Posted by: MrWillie | July 20, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

who in the hel- wants to drink beer in a funky-as-ed bathroom anyway?must be a lot of street urchins and alcoholics attending wiz games

Posted by: billydee123 | July 20, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ReginaldSmash | July 21, 2010 3:11 AM | Report abuse

With Snyder having finally removed himself from football operations, he is free to focus on his natural strength, marketing. I don't believe that Snyder is a dumb guy, arrogant maybe, but stupid no. He seems to have learned that surrounding himself with mediocre management talent only leads to mediocre performance on the field. Some of us have to learn humility and the need to surround ourselves with the right people the hard way. Ted Leonsis, on the other hand, has a newspaper delivery boy with big dreams mentality, and he has probably been underestimated his entire life. While the venue at FedEx field was never Dan Snyder's mistake, I believe he has the brainpower, if not the will, to improve the fan experience dramatically. What I meant by "Leonsis needs to send Mr. Snyder his playbook" was that Mr. Snyder needs to show the fans how carefully he is listening and let everybody explicitly know that he is listening. That's something Ted Leonsis seems to do completely naturally -- I'm not sure he even has to think about it. If the leopard truly has changed his spots, Mr. Snyder should now have plenty of free time to show the fanbase all the ways he has changed. Ted Leonsis just gets it. Little things over time do add up to big things. He understands "the law of accumulation."

Posted by: dannykurland1 | July 21, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I echo the comment about Leonsis implicitly indicting Abe. I do not think Leonsis is going to change the name back to the Bullets- especially when Pollin changed it because he was concerned about the gun violence in the city (regardless of whether or not it was a good change- you would be spitting in Abe's dead face if he changed it).

As for the other stuff, I think this is Ted just playing to the fans. He's a new owner and he wants to get us on his side and give us a reason to come to a team that is going to struggle mightily for the next few years.

Posted by: ruyehara88 | July 21, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Don't go too "traditional". Most fans still like videos and entertainment along with their sports. Only old farts can't "handle" both and pretend to be offended.

Posted by: Timo17 | July 21, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

While this plays well to the fans, an owner hands on w/ every bit of minutiae, isn't there a staff responsible for such things as ketchup dispensers and ledges above urinals? I can just picture Ted's office, cluttered w/ various types of ketchup dispensers, urinals, et al. No type of ketchup is gonna get me to the arena if the team continues on its 25 win ways. Having said that, how about actually LOWERING the beer prices? :)

Posted by: randysbailin | July 21, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Whatever Abe Polin's faults, he built the Verizon Center with his own money and singlehandedly revived a section of the city that was on life support. Plus, he had the foresight to set up a succession plan that gave us Ted Leonsis. The man was, at the very least, a visionary.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | July 21, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

All one needs to know about Pollin as an owner is that the only thing people can come up with to defend him is building the arena. So maybe he knew real estate, but he was a terrible team owner. Horrible. As for Leonsis, all his comments about how bad things are and all the changes he needs to make are clearly an indictment of Pollin. It really can't be taken any other way.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse


No, it can taken different ways, but they don't fit your dislike for Mr. Pollin. Leonsis is his own man. Any person who takes over an operation will attempt to imprint their own stamp on it. He didn't say how bad things were. You did. He's saying he sees things that can be improved. Doesn't mean they were horrible. Leonsis is a different guy. He gives us the opportunity to reach out to him and he reaches back. Simple really.

As far as building the arena, that was a good thing. He also built the Capital Centre with his own money too. Pollin's decisions didn't often times work out, but he did try. See the Moses Malone trade. See Bernard King being signed. See the Webber trade. See Jamison being brought in, Butler. Because things don't work out doesn't mean the attempt wasn't made. And they did win a title under Pollin, too.

Posted by: soulfoundation | July 21, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I like the music at the games, Big Tigger spinning the music and all...
Yep, women buy their drinks after using the restrooms..LOL Or we put them at our seats then go.

Posted by: washwiz | July 21, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Two things that Ted can never top from the old Capitals Centre are: the BIG JOHN and homemade fireworks displays in the parking lot after the game.

Posted by: budvar59 | July 22, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

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