The Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards, is now officially called the Capitol One Arena.On Wednesday, August 9, Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Verizon Center and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, announced that the Verizon Center has been renamed the Capitol One Arena. While the name change is effective immediately, signs are likely to be replaced sometime in the fall. Along with the name change, Monumental Sports and Entertainment also plans to invest $40 million dollars to make improvements and modernize the arena. The Chinatown sports and entertainment arena first opened in 1997 and was built by the then-owner of the Washington Wizards franchise, Abe Pollin. The arena was called the MCI Center prior to Verizon’s purchase of MCI in 2006, after which the venue’s name became the Verizon Center.
The arena is used as the hometown venue of Washington, D.C.’s NBA and NHL teams, as well as two other sports teams owned by Monumental. The arena football team Valor, the Washington Mystics WNBA team, and the Georgetown University basketball team also play their home games at the venue. The Verizon Center/Capitol One Arena on average hosts over 200 events yearly, such as NCAA basketball tournaments, shows, and concerts. Most recently, the arena hosted the Big Ten Conference basketball tournament in early 2017. The Capitol One Arena seats 20,500, and was ranked in 2016 by Billboard Magazine as the eighth highest grossing arena in the nation. It will be host to the 2019 East regionals of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, as well as the 2018 A-10 men’s basketball tournament held in March. Monumental’s president Jim Van Stone noted that partnering with Capitol One, another D.C.-based company, is good for the city’s image and business climate and helps to show that “Washington, D.C., is one of the most dynamic and attractive markets to do business in.” The change came as Verizon has indicated that the company does not plan on renewing the current rights deal, which expires next year. Leonsis expects the new deal to be more gainful than the previous agreement with Verizon, but has not disclosed the financial terms of the agreement. Announcements regarding the $40 million to be invested in improvements and upgrades to the facility are expected to come soon.