Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Holy Cow. How Cool is This?"

That's Ted Leonsis's reaction to the fact that he now owns three professional sports teams . . . and the arena they play in. The excitement and joy that so clearly comes through in that statement was abundantly evident tonight as Ted and two of his partners, Rick Kay and Raul Fernandez, hosted several hundred Wizards, Caps and Mystics fans at the Verizon Center for a "Town Hall Meeting."

Ted, introduced to the crowd while "We Are Family" played in the background, spent the better part of an hour talking about his vision for the three teams and candidly answering fans' questions. It should come as no surprise to anyone given the success that Ted has made of the Caps to learn that Ted has spent a great deal of time studying not only the business of sports but also what has made teams successful on the court and on the ice.

Ted shared that his philosophy -- developed from looking at the most successful NBA teams -- is to build through the draft, develop the young players, and then use trades and free agency to fill in the missing pieces. His goal for all three teams is for each of them to become what he called "generational teams" -- teams that can be counted on to make the playoffs year after year after year. And the Caps are already on their way: Ted said that there's now a waiting list of nearly 3,000 people who'd like to buy season tickets.

The Mystics have a long way to go before they have that welcome problem. When asked about the limited media coverage given to the Mystics, Ted said that the Mystics play "a very good brand of basketball" and that "the mainstream media doesn't give it the respect it deserves." He said it takes time for a sport to become mainstream, and that the WNBA faces the additional challenge of playing in the summer. He praised the WNBA's new marketing campaign, "Basketball is Basketball." (We like it too . . . sure beats "Expect Great.")

Naturally, a fan asked about getting back to "the red, white and blue" -- the colors the Bullets wore when they won the NBA Championship back in 1978. Ted said "it's important to us," we're in the nation's capital," and "I would expect we'll go to that." So, Mystics fans, don't be surprised to see a little red appear on new Mystics gear in another season or two!

And proving that no detail is too small for the new owner of the arena -- a building that Ted said he'd like to see become "the greatest public space in the city" -- Ted volunteered that after reading a certain "female blogger" he made a point of personally walking through the women's rooms on the main concourse this afternoon and counted nine broken latches on the stalls. He's promised to have them fixed before the next game. Now that's action! (And, he also said he's sending Rick and Raul up to the 400 level to check those stall doors, too.) Thanks, Ted!

Seriously though, as moderator Steve Buckhantz (the Wizards' play-by-play announcer) said at the top of the evening, how often do fans get to play "Ask the Owner"? In most cities, probably not very often. But we, the fans, had that opportunity tonight, and we, the BCs, probably weren't the only fans who left thinking, "how cool is this?"

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Lacey said...

And how cool was Ted to offer free tickets to Caps and Wizards STHs to attend a Mystics game to see how much fun they can be. It was a great night and promises of more Town Meetings shows how much his group wants the fans to be happy. The year is coming when we will raise all 3 banners the same year!

At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm impressed. If checking the latches on women's stalls is part of the owner's job .... I'll be spending money with the Mystics.


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