The groundbreaking for the MCI Center (MCI was the title sponsor at the time) was scheduled for October 1995 with the Capital's home opener October 1997. It is to be located above the Gallery Place Metro Station near the National Mall. The Center will seat 19,700 for hockey and 18,756 for basketball. It will include 110 luxuary suites on three levels, 70,000 square feet on themed restaurants, themed retail and a sports meseum. Square footage will be 836,840. The estimated cost is $260 million. Architect: Ellerbe Becket, Kansas City, MO
December 2, 1997 (AP) - Whether it was the presence of President Clinton, the long-awaited opening of the MCI Center or the noise created by the sellout crowd, the Washington Wizards finally won a home game last night.
Opening their new $200 million arena with a 95-78 victory over Seattle, Juwan Howard and reserve Tracy Murray had 18 points apiece as the Wizards snapped the Super-Sonics' seven-game winning streak. Seattle lost for only the fourth time in 17 games.
"It means a lot, not just for the organinzation but for the whole city," Wizards guard Calbert Cheaney said. "I felt just like a kid when you get something new. You want to cherish it for a while."
Washington lost all five of its games at the US Airways Arena this season. Things were decidedly different in the Wizards' new home, however, as they took the lead in the first quarter and never lost it.
"It was fun from start to finish," said Wizards center Terry Davis, who scored the first basket in the new arena on a tip-in with 41 seconds elapsed.
Colors Inside Verizon Center Are As Hot As The Action
Winter may be bearing down on the eastern seaboard, but you'd never know it inside the new Verizon Center in the nation's capital. Fans entering the new home of the NBA's Wizards and the NHL's Capitals are at once engulfed by "hot" colors, extra-wide concourses and the best amenities in professional sports. The Verizon Center opened December 2, 1997.
The building exterior exudes a monumental civic quality which blends well with the neighborhood. But once inside, fans are bombarded with a rich color scheme that includes names such as "deep orchid," "chrome yellow" and "cherry red." "The design has been characterized as "buttoned down on the outside and like a playful child inside," said Brad Clark of Ellerbe Becket, the building's designer. "The idea is for excitement to mount as fans move from the entrances toward the seating areas."
Abe Pollin, chairman of Washington Sports and Entertainment (which owned the building, as well as the Wizards and Capitals), wanted to make the fans part of the experience by stimulating their senses. "Fans expect their experience to be more than just what happens during the game," said Clark. "Fans crave a full-service destination location, complete with fine dining, sports bars, team stores, concessions, memorabilia and interactive exhibits."
Designed for use year-round, the $260 million entertainment center will host concerts and special events when not in use by the Wizards or Capitals. Washingtonians and tourists will be able to shop in retail establishments and enjoy a variety of restaurants every day. In addition, the building is connected to a light rail station, providing affordable transportation to and from events.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS: Contact: Stuart Smith,
Director of Communications at Ellerbe Becket
Verizon Center is a design/build venture of DC Arena Associates (DCAA), which
also includes Clark Construction, KCF-SHG and Devrouax & Purnell.
POLLIN SELLS CAPITALS AND MINORITY POSITION IN MCI CENTER, WIZARDS
May 13, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Washington's Verizon Center has a new minority owner in an investment group led by Ted Leonsis of America Online. The group bought a share of the center and the NBA Wizards plus full ownership
of the NHL Capitals in a deal valued at $200 million. The Leonsis group also has right of first refusal to buy the Verizon Center and the Wizards. The Verizon Center and the teams are owned by 75-year-old Abe
Pollin and sets up a probable line of succession for the teams and venue.
The Verizon Center was built for $260 million and opened in 1997. It has been pioneering in its use of retail space in a sports venue with 72,500 square feet available for merchandise sales. The venue has
also been credited with helping to rehabilitate a decaying neighborhood.
Leonsis says he plans to aggressively market the NHL team and become more involved with the community.
|Events:||Approximately 200 annually, including Washington Wizards Basketball, Washington Capitals Hockey, and a wide variety of concerts, family shows and other cultural and entertainment events|
||The MCI National Sports Gallery: An interactive sports museum showcasing some of the nation's most significant sports memorabilia. Home of the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.
Discovery Channel: Destination D.C.: An entertaining and educational 25,000 square foot, three-story super store taking visitors on an imaginary journey throughout the world. Visit Discovery Channel online...
Velocity Grill: An upscale sports-themed restaurant overlooking the Wizards practice court. Patrons will enjoy fine cuisine designed to appeal to a variety of tastes and budgets.
Hours of Operation:
9:00 am - 11:00 pm, 365 days a year (expected)
|Metro Access:||All metro lines serviced by either Gallery Place, Archives, Judiciary Square, or Metro Center|
|Parking:||Approximately 10,000 parking spaces located within 10 block radius of arena
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
December 31, 2000
|Verizon Center Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 4|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 7|
|Bonus: Chinese Marquee|| 3|
|Bonus: Subway Station in Building|| 2|
|Bonus: USRT Media Plug|| 2|
|Total Score|| 58.5|
January 1, 2001
May 14, 2005 - The MCI Center in Washington DC opened in December of 1997, and is the home to the NBA
Wizards, the NHL Capitals, the WNBA Mystics, college basketball's Georgetown Hoyas, and
their newest team, the Washington Power of the National Lacrosse League. The arena is
located right in the heart of downtown Washington, and is just blocks away from the Capitol,
the White House, and most of our national historic treasures as well as federal buildings.
(Interesting thought - here in DC they found a suitable downtown location that did not
conflict or clash with our national historic monuments and buildings, yet in Ottawa there
seemed to be a problem with the idea of building an NHL venue so close to Parliament Hill,
therefore they opted to build the Corel Centre in the middle of a corn field miles away from
The arena is located right adjacent to the Chinatown district, which gives this venue a
unique setting among the NBA/NHL arenas around the US and Canada. The MCI Center's
main marquee is shown in both English and Chinese, giving this building its distinctive
The immediate neighborhood surrounding the arena is attractive and vibrant, and from
what we were told this venue has been the nucleus for major redevelopment of the area.
There were several ongoing construction projects in the adjacent area for new offices and
condominiums, and there was a great selection of restaurants in the neighborhood. (We
had a terrific meal at the Capitol Brewery on New Year's Eve, and the next day we had lunch
at the Valhalla for sports enthusiasts such as ourselves, that being the ESPN Zone. Both
were easy walking distance to the MCI Center).
The building itself lacks any sort of plazas or wide open public spaces on the outside. It is
built from curb to curb, but we must say that access to the building is easy, with a Metro
subway station right at the arena, and ample parking underneath the building and many
nearby surface lots and onstreet parking. The other thing this building lacks is any sort of
main entrance or dramatic architectural signature. You walk through the main door and
through a small lobby and you are immediately in the concourse. The arena also houses
several unique retail entities - a Discovery Channel store, a steak restaurant, a sports bar
and disco, Modell's team store which also sells generic sports merchandise, and last but
not least the MCI Sports Gallery and Hall of Fame, a two story exhibit area with a wide range
of sports memorabilia and interactive games, and they are open throughout the week.
The concourses themselves are bright, spacious and modern - the color motif is fire engine
red and sunshine yellow, and on the lower concourse there are many windows to the
outside, with ample natural light. US Airways sponsors large murals of the artists and
events that have happened in the building, and they are very attractively displayed
throughout the 100 level concourse. (Some of our favorites being Shania Twain, Placido
Domingo and Hulk Hogan!)
There are two levels of suites - the lower suites are on the sidelines above the 100 level
seats, and then there is a separate suite level above the club seats. The club seats are
located on the second level on each sideline only, and in the one end zone is a spacious
Harbor Club type restaurant, with two tiers of tables offering a full view of the playing
surface. A sumptuous buffet and light fare is offered, and there is also a full service bar
also overlooking the bowl. The club level is plushly carpeted in the red/yellow/purple motif.
By the way, all club seats were sold on a 4 year contract basis, so no single game tickets are
available at this time.
All of the seats are colored purple, and the main scoreboard has four sides with video
screens and basic score information. Hanging from the ceiling in each corner are 4 dot
matrix boards showing stats and other information. Recently the Caps/Wizards installed the
modern new LED digital display boards on the edge of the club level balconies. While these
boards are not as elaborate as those in Columbus or Minnesota, they nevertheless
represent the state of the art technology in presenting advertisements and special effects.
The Wizards did hardly anything more than scroll ads, but at the Caps game they regularly
presented special effects and led cheers with the boards... nicely done!
The out-of-town scoreboard at the Wizards game was a mish-mosh of every sport
imaginable - NFL, College bowl games, NHL and NBA. While we appreciated the information,
it should have been better organized. The Capitals only display other NHL scores.
To get the good stuff you have to get to the club level - hot wings, caesar salads,
strombolis and specialty sandwiches that looked awesome. The regular concessions in the
arena were just ordinary.
Excellent job done here as only the most meaningful of banners hang here, with one small
exception descibed later in this paragraph. You will see Division, Conference and League
Championship banners (including Georgetown's '84 NCAA Title) only along with the Caps
and the Wizards each having three retired numbers. What we liked about the banners the
Caps had was that their banners not only had the names and numbers, but also face shots
of the players. The only other place we have seen this done is at the Air Canada Centre in
Toronto. Oh... Mystics... WNBA "attendance champions" in '98 and '99. "Wheeeeeeee!"
We got some really shabby treatment from the sad and pathetic Wizards, so to them we say
"not to worry, we will never grace your doorstep again". Overall we liked the building,
although there was nothing to make the experience itself a spectacular one. What these
two teams desperately need are packed houses, fans painting their faces and going nuts
for their teams, and spontaneous electricity and enthusiasm for their beloved Wizards and
Capitals. At this time it just ain't happening in DC.
January 6, 2006
MCI CENTER TO BE RENAMED VERIZON CENTER
Verizon Communications' merger with MCI is now complete;
Renaming will occur at a date to be determined in first quarter of 2006
Washington, D.C. - Verizon Communications officially announced today the
closing of their merger with MCI. As part of that merger, MCI Center, the
20,000-seat sports and entertainment facility in Washington, D.C. bearing
the name of MCI Communications, will be renamed Verizon Center. The actual
date that the venue will switch names is still to be determined, but will
occur during the first quarter of 2006. The new logos and graphic branding
of the DC venue will also take place within the first quarter of this year.
"We will say a fond farewell to the MCI Center name and welcome 'Verizon
Center'," said Washington Sports and Entertainment President Susan O'Malley.
"We have enjoyed our affiliation with MCI, but we welcome Verizon as our new
corporate partner and namesake."
MCI Center is the home of the NBA's Washington Wizards, the NHL's Washington
Capitals, the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the Georgetown Hoyas men's
basketball team. Recently celebrating its eight year anniversary and almost
20 million in attendance as MCI Center, the venue boasts an annual average
of 220 events ranging from basketball to hockey to concerts to family shows
to world-class tournaments and trade shows. For 2005, MCI Center was ranked
ninth worldwide among venues according to Billboard magazine thus continuing
its tradition of being a top 10 sports and entertainment venue year after
year. As MCI Center changes to Verizon Center, the tradition is set to
January 21, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Appraisers will go to work soon to determine the value of the Verizon Center and Washington Wizards. The results will help Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and the estate of Wizards owner Abe Pollin determine the price Leonsis and his investor group should pay for the 55 percent of the properties they do not own. Pollin died Nov. 24 and the sides have not been able to agree on a value. If they do not agree, the estate could sell the shares to another party, but Leonsis has a right to match that offer.
AGREEMENT REACHED FOR VERIZON CENTER
April 8, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Washington, D.C. - An agreement has reportedly been reached between Ted Leonsis and the
estate of Abe Pollin that would allow Leonsis to purchase his former partner's share of the Verizon Center and NBA Wizards.
Reports said, the total value of the team and arena is pegged near $550 million, although the exact cost to Leonsis's group would be far less because it already owns 44 percent of the franchise.
If the agreement is finalized, it would cement Leonsis's status as one of the most powerful figures in Washington business and sports. He would control a mid-Atlantic sports and entertainment empire spanning three professional leagues, and an arena that hosts everyone from presidents to rock bands, as well as performers including the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The reports cautioned that the deal could fall apart if the sides fail to reach agreement on other, nonfinancial issues such as the operations of the arena in the period before Leonsis takes control. But settling on a price was critical to clearing the way for Leonsis's ownership.
The exact cost to Leonsis is clouded by a number of factors, including $250 million in debt on the arena and the Wizards, which Leonsis's group would assume in full. After the debt, the net cost to Leonsis for the rest of Pollin's holdings would probably be about $170 million, according to reports. Perhaps $50 million of that would be paid in cash, and the rest would probably be financed.
The agreement must receive approval by a three-quarters majority of the NBA's 30 owners, which means 23 votes. A deal must also clear an antitrust review by the U.S. Justice Department. If Leonsis closes by June 1, his group would be able to make decisions on the NBA draft and free agency, both of which are critical to the team's success.
Ownership would give Leonsis overall control of an arena that hosts 220 or so events a year, allowing him to start directing arena revenue to his hockey team, which has reportedly been losing money for years despite its recent success. The Capitals received no revenue from the arena's estimated 108 luxury suites and 3,000 club seats, which had been controlled by Pollin's estate.
April 29, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
The Abe Pollin family has reached a deal with Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis to sell
him the family's share of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center. The parties expect to officially sign a purchase agreement within a week and transfer ownership in a month to six weeks, after the financing for the deal is in place. Terms were not released. Leonsis already owns 44 percent of the properties. Ownership would give Leonsis overall control of a state-of-the-art arena that hosts 220 or so events a year, allowing him to start directing arena revenue to his hockey team, which has been losing money for years despite its recent success. The Capitals received no revenue from the arena's 108 luxury suites and 3,000 club seats, which had been controlled by Abe Pollin's estate. The agreement must receive approval by a three-quarters majority of the NBA's 30 owners, which means 23 votes. A deal must also clear an antitrust review by the U.S. Justice Department.
D.C. DELAYS HEARING ON VERIZON CENTER SIGNAGE
January 26, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Washington, D.C. - A D.C. Council hearing on a bill to permit the signs – once described as
"likely to wow visitors and infuriate neighbors" – was indefinitely postponed by Yvette M. Alexander, whose Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs is handling the bill.
Alexander said in an interview with the Washington Post that the hearing was delayed at the request of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Verizon-owning company controlled by owner Ted Leonsis, so it could do "further community outreach."
Randall Boe, executive vice president of Monumental, confirmed that the company wanted more time to share its rejiggered plans with neighborhood groups.
"We shared with them our proposal; we answered questions; we invited comments," Boe said. "One of the comments we got was, ‘Are you willing to work with an architect or designer to make sure this fits in with the neighborhood?' We've done that."
The new plans call for fewer signs that initially contemplated, Boe said - two digital animated signs would replace larger vinyl signs now hanging on the northwest face of the arena; another sign would wrap around the arena's fourth floor.. The wraparound signs would use a "mesh" system that allow light into the Monumental executive suite on that floor.
Renderings, Boe said, would be shared with community groups in the coming days.
The Washington Business Journal first described Monumental's plans in October, which at the time included as many as nine signs on the otherwise bare arena walls. The bill's language says the signs could include "banners, digital displays, digital screens, digital video monitors, animated signs for commercial establishments located within the building, static canvas displays, projectors for projecting static and moving images onto the Verizon Center, interactive kiosks, and images projected onto the faćade of the Verizon Center."