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Capital One Arena
Capital One Arena logo
Capital One Arena
Address: 601 F. Street Northwest
Location: Washington D.C. 2004
Flag of the United States United States [1]
Former names: MCI Center (1997–2006)
Verizon Center (2006–2017)
Owner: Monumental Sports and Entertainment
Operator: Monumental Sports and Entertainment
Capacity: Basketball: 20,356
Ice hockey: 18,506
Construction information
Broke ground: October 18, 1995
Opened: December 2, 1997
Construction cost: 260 million
Washington Wizards (NBA) (1997–present)
Georgetown Hoyas (NCAA) (1997–present)
Washington Mystics (WNBA) (1998–present)
Floor design
Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards court design

Capital One Arena, formerly known as MCI Center and Verizon Center, is a sports and entertainment arena in Washington, D.C..

Located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Capital One Arena sits atop the Gallery Place rapid transit station of the Washington Metro.


Capital One Arena is home to the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Georgetown University men's basketball team, the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Washington International Horse Show and was formerly the home of the Washington Power of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) from 2001 to 2002, and most recently the Washington Valor Arena Football League franchise.[1][2] The Washington Valor drew an average home attendance of 11,179[3] in the 2017 AFL season, the highest in the league in their inaugural season. The arena's seating capacity is 20,308 for basketball and 18,506 for ice hockey.[4]

Capital One Arena is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment and is situated on top of land leased from the District of Columbia. Capital One Arena was built in the mid-1990s solely with private financing and was originally owned by Abe Pollin from 1997 to June 2010. On June 10, 2010, following Pollin's death in November 2009, the Pollin family sold Capital One Arena, along with the Washington Wizards and the Washington-Baltimore area Ticketmaster franchise, to Ted Leonsis, who already owned the arena's other tenant, the Washington Capitals. Leonsis subsequently formed a new management company—Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Capital One Arena is largely considered to be a commercial success and is regarded as one of the driving catalysts of the revitalization (and gentrification) of Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood.[5] A report emerged in May 2015 that Verizon would not renew its naming rights to the Verizon Center when its agreement with Monumental ends in 2018.[6][7] 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.[8] However, on August 9, 2017, it was announced Verizon Center would be renamed Capital One Arena, effective immediately.[9]

Capital One Arena has hosted many WWE and WCW events in the past. This includes Starrcade (1997), Starrcade (1998), Starrcade (1999), Backlash (2000), Starrcade (2000), SummerSlam (2005), Cyber Sunday (2007), Survivor Series (2009), Capitol Punishment (2011), & Battleground (2016). It has been a regular stop for Raw and SmackDown, & Nitro.


Capital One Arena, located in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Chinatown, originally opened on December 2, 1997, as the MCI Center, named after its sponsor, MCI Inc. Nearly a decade later, in January 2006, Verizon Communications purchased MCI Inc. and the arena's name was changed accordingly.[5] The following year, in 2007, the "first true indoor high-definition LED scoreboard" was installed at Capital One Arena.[10] On December 2, 2007, Capital One Arena celebrated the ten year anniversary of its opening.[11] In December 2013, all electronic communications to and from the scoreboard and advertising fasciae were updated by ColosseoEAS.[12]

Role in Chinatown[]

When the arena opened there was concern[13] that it would lead to the displacement of Chinese businesses and culture [13] 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.[14] The Chinese population in Chinatown is a ghost of its former self—recent estimates hold that the number of Chinese in the neighborhood is down to around 400 to 500.[14] 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.[14] In their place, new residents and visitors to the area find an increasing number of mid-tier and upscale chains, such as Hooters, Fuddruckers and Legal Sea Foods.

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.[15] The ice quality issue has been persistent both since the opening of Capital One Arena and with the Capitals franchise in general.[16] Since Leonsis' acquisition of the facility, the quality of the ice has gotten better 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.

Verizon Center

A photo of Verizon Center.

  1. Ted Leonsis close to securing Arena Football League team to play at Verizon Center, Jonathan O'Connell and Dan Steinberg, Washington Post, February 10, 2016
  2. Ted Leonsis to announce D.C. is getting an Arena Football League team, Scott Allen, The Washington Post, March 10, 2016
  4. Heath, Thomas (November 25, 2004). "On Hockey Nights, A Center of Inactivity". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Name Change: MCI Center to be Verizon Center". ESPN. January 7, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  6. Hobson, Will. "Verizon still mulling whether to renew naming rights to Verizon Center". Washington Post. 
  7. "Report: Verizon will not renew arena naming rights". WUSA9. 
  8. Clabaugh, Jeff. "Monumental Sports & Entertainment teams with international airline in sponsorship deal". 
  9. Steinberg, Dan. "Verizon Center to become Capital One Arena, starting now". 
  10. "Verizon Center Shows off "First True Indoor HD LED Scoreboard"". Engadget. September 28, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2011. 
  11. Nakamura, David (December 2, 2007). "Verizon Center Marks 10th Anniversary". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  12. "Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.". ColosseoEAS. Jan 31, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Lowman, Stephen (January 28, 2009). "The Shrinking of Chinatown". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 29, 2009. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Nakamura, David (July 1, 2011). "Wah Luck House Maintains Culture of Dying D.C. Chinatown". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  15. Leonsis, Ted (December 6, 2007). "Toughness". Ted's Take. Retrieved December 6, 2007. 
  16. Steinberg, Dan (February 10, 2009). "The Caps and Bad Ice: A History". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2009.