As they prepare for their Entertainment and Sports Arena debut, the Washington Mystics are looking forward to their new home.
The Mystics had played at Capital One Arena–also the home of the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals–since their inaugural 1998 WNBA season. Beginning with this season, the Mystics will play home games at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, which opened last fall in Washington’s Congress Heights for basketball and other events.
Moving to the new venue provides a few logistical advantages to the Mystics, such as on-site facilities that include state-of-the-art training space. It is also expected to give the Mystics a boost of terms of home-court advantage, owing to its much smaller capacity than Capital One Arena. While the Mystics had some stretches of success in terms of attendance at Capital One Arena, their recent figures–including a per-game average of 6,136 fans during the 2018 regular season–came nowhere close to filling the venue. However, the 4,200-capacity Entertainment and Sports Arena could help foster the more energetic gameday atmosphere that Mystics players want during home games. More from Washington City Paper:
Kristi Toliver enjoys playing on the road. The veteran point guard has always embraced silencing the opposing team’s fans. She thrives off the energy of competing in places like Seattle Storm’s KeyArena and Connecticut Sun’s Mohegan Sun Arena—two stadiums known for their rowdy atmosphere.
In recent years, the Mystics have performed slightly better at home than away, except for in 2016, when they won eight away games, compared to five on their home court.
“Capital One is an NHL and NBA arena,” says Toliver. “I think this [new] type of arena, this style of arena suits the WNBA a little bit more. Just like [Major League Soccer] back in the day, playing in those huge arenas, they changed their format and got smaller arenas, and MLS is awesome. I think that’s kinda what we’re doing and the vision that we have.”
The Mystics will play their first regular-season game at the Entertainment and Sports Arena on Saturday, June 1, when they host the Atlanta Dream. In addition to the Mystics, the Entertainment and Sports Arena is home to the NBA Gatorade League’s Capital City Go-Go.