Following recent remarks about the future of his teams at the Verizon Center, Ted Leonsis is elaborating on his statements.
Leonsis owns the privately-financed Verizon Center, along with the Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Mystics (WNBA) Washington Capitals (NHL), and the Arena Football League’s expansion Washington Valor under the Monumental Sports and Entertainment umbrella . The mortgage on the Verizon Center is scheduled to be paid off in seven years, and the arena’s naming rights agreement with Verizon expires in 2018.
Recently Leonsis alluded to the fact that the completion of the mortgage could give him more flexibility down the road. That prompted some discussion over whether Leonsis could leave the Verizon Center in favor of a new arena.
In a recent interview on WTOP, Leonsis doubled down on his commitment to Washington, specifically clarifying a comment he made about being a “free agent.” He also left open the possibility of exploring discussing other arena options within the city down the road. More from the Washington Post:
Leonsis’s “free agent” comment was made in the context of what he called “the worst building deal in professional sports,” a mortgage on Verizon Center that costs him an estimated $36 million annually.
“That’s the situation that we bought into and went into with our eyes wide open,” he said Tuesday. “I honestly don’t want to complain in any way. I think to be able to own sports teams and the building in the town where you live and grew up in . . . I went to college at Georgetown. I’ve been around and associated with D.C. for a long, long time, so I’m actually thrilled with being able to own teams and buildings in my home town and I’m very, very committed to the community.”
[Bruce] Alan asked Leonsis about a possible move within D.C.
“We’d have to wait and see, and that’s honestly what I was trying to communicate,” Leonsis said. “Is Verizon Center, where it’s located today, the best use of that land? I mean, I think the city and we can talk about that five years from now, or whatever, but certainly being downtown and being a part of the renaissance, if you will, of downtown D.C. is both a privilege and an honor, and we have been very respectful and great neighbors.”
As noted here recently, Leonsis seems to be leaving his options open. The Verizon Center will likely be due for some upgrades by the time its mortgage is complete, meaning that it, along with a fairly-recent naming rights deal, could help facilitate renovations. Of course a new arena could be on the table as well, but for now Leonsis is sticking to his commitment to D.C.
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