SBD/January 18, 2011/Franchises

Leonsis' Monumental Sports & Entertainment Reshaping DC Sports

Leonsis estimates Monumental Sports & Entertainment nearing $1B in value

Ted Leonsis is integrating late Abe Pollin's assets into Monumental Sports & Entertainment and “building what he says is an enterprise nearing $1 billion in value, one he hopes one day will rival New York's Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles' Staples Center as a dominant regional sports enterprise,” according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Leonsis “already has made hundreds of decisions designed to change the Wizards from a money loser into one of the NBA's high-performing and most profitable franchises.” In addition to “smart marketing and more handholding for customers, Monumental believes a disciplined businesslike approach will do for the Wizards” what Leonsis “did for the Capitals, transformed from an also-ran into the hottest ticket in Washington.” While he “recrafts his team and builds the game experience, Leonsis has also recruited new investors into Monumental, boosting the number of partners to 17.” The entire enterprise, with “more than $100 million in cash on hand, expects to break even this year.” Monumental Vice Chair & COO Dick Patrick said that the organization is “changing the Verizon Center and the Wizards physically, organizationally and culturally.” In addition to “creating a cleaner environment, physical changes have helped Leonsis squeeze more revenue from the building.” Monumental “installed pricey Acela Club ledge seating at a prime location in one end of the arena where less-lucrative restaurant seating once stood.” Leonsis also “moved radio announcers up into the stands to help make room for 16 courtside ‘dream seats,’ which sell for $64,000 per seat, per season.” Monumental is working with AT&T “to expand its cell phone capacity within the arena and to get WiFi in the building.” Leonsis also “has his eye on making money outside the building, such as the restaurants, museums and entertainment attractions nearby” (WASHINGTON POST, 1/17).

CHIMING IN: Leonsis on his blog wrote, “Overall this article does show that we have a very large and integrated sports and marketing platform in a very big market that serves DC, VA and Maryland plus has fans all around the country and the world.” Monumental has “more than 1. 5 million names of people in our database and we will have more than 2.5 million turnstile clicks this year at Verizon Center.” Leonsis: “This is a big and important part of our local community. This is a big responsibility and we take it seriously. It is also quite a large investment and I am proud to have so many great partners to help us lighten the load and the risk inherent in leading these public trusts” (TEDSTAKE.com, 1/17).

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