Capital One Arena
|Former names||MCI Center (1997–2006)|
Verizon Center (2006–2017)
|Address||601 F Street NW|
|Public transit|| Washington Metro |
at Gallery Place
|Owner||Monumental Sports & Entertainment|
18,573 (ice hockey)
|Broke ground||October 18, 1995|
|Opened||December 2, 1997|
|Construction cost||US$260 million|
($442 million in 2020 dollars)
Devrouax & Purnell
|Project manager||John Stranix and Seagull Bay Sports, LLC.|
|Structural engineer||Delon Hampton & Associates|
|Services engineer||John J. Christie Associates|
|Washington Wizards (NBA) 1997–present|
Washington Capitals (NHL) 1997–present
Georgetown Hoyas (NCAA) 1997–present
Washington Mystics (WNBA) 1998–2018
Washington Power (NLL) 2001–2002
Washington Valor (AFL) 2017–2019
Capital One Arena is an indoor arena in Washington, D.C. Located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, the arena sits atop the Gallery Place rapid transit station of the Washington Metro. It has been largely considered to be a commercial success and is regarded as one of the driving catalysts of the revitalization of Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood.
Owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, it is the home arena of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Georgetown University men's basketball team. It was also home to the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 1998 to 2018 until they moved to the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena in southeast Washington for the 2019 season.
The block where the arena was built, between 6th and 7th and F and G Streets, historically held a mix of residences and small businesses. By the 1960s, it was suffering from urban decay, like much of the eastern end of Downtown Washington. In 1973, while the Gallery Place Metro station was being developed below it, the District government bought the land in hopes of redeveloping it. Capital Landmark Associates was selected in 1979 to develop the site with a planned mixed-use complex including retail, offices, apartments, and a hotel. Most of the remaining buildings on the site were demolished in 1985. The project languished for many years but never materialized, and was finally canceled in 1992.
Before the arena's opening, the Capitals and the Wizards (then known as the Washington Bullets) played at USAir Arena in the Washington suburb of Landover, Maryland. The teams experienced subpar attendance because the location was inconvenient for both Washington and Baltimore residents, and their arena, though only 20 years old, was not up to the standards of other NBA and NHL venues. In December 1993, Abe Pollin, the owner of both teams, began studying options to move the teams to a new arena to be built with public financing, with possible locations including Baltimore, downtown Washington, and Laurel, Maryland.
A group of Washington business leaders brokered a deal between Pollin and the District government to build an arena at the Gallery Place site, with the District paying for the $150-million project. The D.C. Council approved a special tax on businesses to finance the deal. However, a competing proposal soon emerged, when Robert Johnson, head of Black Entertainment Television, offered to build the arena with mostly private financing. With the arena deal facing criticism amid the District's budget crisis, Pollin eventually agreed to privately fund the construction of the building, which ultimately came to $200 million. The District would pay for other costs, including purchasing the portion of the land it did not already own, preparing the site, and expanding the Metro station; these eventually amounted to $79 million. The District leased the land to Pollin at a below-market rate of $300,000 per year.
A naming rights deal was struck with MCI Communications to name the arena as the MCI Center. The groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in October 1995. On December 2, 1997, the arena held its first event, a game between the Wizards and the Seattle SuperSonics, with President Bill Clinton in attendance.
In 1999, a group led by technology executive Ted Leonsis bought a 36% stake in Pollin's holdings, including the MCI Center, as well as full ownership of the Capitals. The Leonsis group increased its stake to 44% in 2000.
In January 2006, Verizon Communications purchased MCI and the arena's name was changed accordingly to Verizon Center. The following year, in 2007, the "first true indoor high-definition LED scoreboard" was installed in the arena.
In June 2010, following Pollin's death in November 2009, the Leonsis group, newly organized as Monumental Sports & Entertainment, bought out Pollin's interests, gaining full ownership of the arena and the Wizards.
A report emerged in May 2015 that Verizon would not renew its naming rights to the Verizon Center when its agreement with Monumental was to end in 2018. In the same week, it was announced that Etihad Airways signed a deal to become the official airline of the arena, sparking speculation that Etihad might be the leading contender to assume naming rights in 2017. However, on August 9, 2017, it was announced the bank Capital One had purchased the rights, renaming the venue Capital One Arena.
In July 2020, bookmaker William Hill opened a sportsbook at the arena, following the 2018 legalization of sports betting in Washington. It was the first brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the District, and the first to open at a professional sports venue in the United States.
Tenants and events
In the professional fighting world, the arena was home to Mike Tyson's final fight (Mike Tyson vs. Kevin McBride) on June 11, 2005 and on October 1, 2011, UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson was held at the arena.
The arena has hosted NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament rounds several times, with first and second round events in 1998, 2002, 2008 and 2011 and hosted the regional finals in 2006, 2013 and 2019. Most notably the 2005–06 George Mason Patriots men's basketball team advanced to the Final Four in the arena. The arena hosted the 2009 "Frozen Four," the final round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament.
The arena hosted the 2016 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
In 2017, the Washington Valor began play at the arena for their inaugural season in the Arena Football League. The Mystics moved after the 2018 WNBA season to a new, smaller arena in the Congress Heights area of southeast Washington.
The venue also hosted both the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals and the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, the latter of which saw the Capitals win the first Stanley Cup championship in team history, and the first major sports championship to Washington, D.C. since the 1991 Washington Redskins.
On October 2, 2019, the Capital One Arena hosted AEW Dynamite, the first televised professional wrestling event by All Elite Wrestling. It was broadcast on TNT in the United States of America and on ITV4 in the United Kingdom.
On December 7, 2019, UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik was held at the arena.
When the arena opened, there was concern that it would lead to the displacement of Chinese businesses and culture in the area that is the city's Chinatown. The surrounding area has indeed been dramatically gentrified, and most of the Chinese residents and businesses who lived and operated in the neighborhood when the arena first opened have been displaced because of the spike in real estate prices. Recent estimates hold that the number of Chinese in the neighborhood is down to around 400 to 500. The Chinese-owned restaurants and businesses in the Chinatown area are largely gone and there has not been a full-service Chinese grocery in the neighborhood since 2005.
Ice quality issues
In December 2007, then-Capitals captain Chris Clark gained a bit of press by stating that he believed the arena had the worst ice in the NHL. "There's a lot of ruts in the ice. It's soft. It's wet half the time. I could see a lot of injuries coming from the ice there. It could cost [players] their jobs... Even guys on other teams say the same thing. When we're facing off, they say, 'How do you guys play on this?'" Capitals owner Ted Leonsis addressed this criticism directly. The ice quality issue has been persistent both since the opening of the facility and with the Capitals franchise in general. Since Leonsis' acquisition of the facility, the quality of the ice has gotten better[according to whom?] and number of complaints has noticeably decreased. During playoff games, the arena installs a system to help remove hot air and humidity to maintain the ice conditions during warmer times of the year.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Capital One Arena.|
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|Events and tenants|
| Home of the
1998 – 2018
|Preceded by|| Home of the
1997 – present
|Preceded by|| Home of the
1997 – present
|Preceded by|| Host of the
|Preceded by|| Host of the
|Preceded by|| Host of
WWE Cyber Sunday