|"The Phone Booth"|
|Former names||MCI Center (1997–2006)|
|Location||601 F Street Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20004-1603
|Public transit||Gallery Place|
|Owner||Monumental Sports and Entertainment|
|Operator||Monumental Sports and Entertainment|
|Field size||1,020,000 square feet (95,000 m2)|
|Broke ground||October 18, 1995|
|Opened||December 2, 1997|
|Construction cost||$260 million
($382 million in 2014 dollars)
Devrouax & Purnell
|Project manager||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)
Washington Mystics (WNBA) (1998–present)
Georgetown Hoyas (NCAA) (1997–present)
Washington Power (NLL) (2001–2002)
Named after its sponsor, the telecommunications company Verizon Communications, the Verizon Center has been nicknamed the "Phone Booth" by local fan Gordie Gold, because of its historical association with various telecommunications companies, such as MCI Inc. Located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the Verizon Center sits atop the Gallery Place rapid transit station of the Washington Metro.
The Verizon Center is home to the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association, Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League, the Georgetown University men's basketball team, the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Washington International Horse Show, and was formerly the home of the Washington Power of the National Lacrosse League from 2001 to 2002. The arena's seating capacity is 20,308 for basketball and 18,506 for hockey.
The Verizon Center is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and is situated on top of land leased from the District of Columbia. The Verizon Center 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 Verizon Center, 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 professional hockey team. Leonsis subsequently formed a new management company called Monumental Sports & Entertainment. The Verizon Center 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.
The Verizon Center, 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. The following year, in 2007, the "first true indoor high-definition LED scoreboard" was installed at the Verizon Center. On December 2, 2007, the Verizon Center celebrated the ten year anniversary of its opening. In Dec., 2013 all electronic communications to and from the scoreboard and advertising fasciae were updated by ColosseoEAS.
- 1997, December 2: Inaugural concert performance by Barry Manilow in celebration of Abe Pollin's birthday (December 3)
- 1997, December 28: World Championship Wrestling Starrcade 1997, WCW's most successful PPV and pivotal point in the era of the Monday Night Wars of professional wrestling.
- 1998: Stanley Cup Finals games 3 (June 13) and 4 (June 16): The Washington Capitals were swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings.
- 2000, April 30: WWF Backlash PPV. The Rock wins the WWF Championship from HHH after the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
- 2003, Feb 21: Michael Jordan scores 43 points, becoming the oldest player, and only player, at age 40 or older to score 40 points in an NBA game.
- 2003, March 29: Michelle Kwan gets her fifth world championship title.
- 2003, April 5: Peter Bondra passes Mike Gartner as the Washington Capitals' career scoring leader.
- 2005, April 30: Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls: The Wizards win their first playoff game in nearly 17 years with a 117–99 win over the Bulls. It is the first Wizards playoff game ever held within the District of Columbia, as the team previously played at USAir Arena in Landover, Maryland It is also the District's first NBA playoff game in 55 years (the last had been at Uline Arena on March 21, 1950).
- 2005, May 6: Wizards vs. Bulls: The Wizards win 94–91 over the Bulls, winning the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, 4-2. The game marked the first playoff series victory for the Wizards in 23 years, and first playoff series win at Verizon Center.
- 2005, August 31: WWE Summerslam
- 2006, March 26: George Mason vs. Connecticut Huskies (NCAA men's Division I basketball Washington DC regional final): George Mason, playing in front of a mostly partisan crowd due to being located just across the Potomac River in Fairfax, Va., defeats top seeded UConn to become only the second double-digit seed to reach the NCAA Final Four.
- 2008: Wizards and Capitals both play playoff games in the building in the same calendar year for the first time.
- NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament first and second rounds: 1998, 2002, 2008; second and third rounds: 2011.
- NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament regional finals: 2006, 2013.
- WCW Starrcade 1997-2000.
- The Three Tenors gave a concert on May 7, 2000
- Diana Ross was scheduled to perform during her Return to Love Tour on July 9, 2000, but the show was cancelled, due to low ticket sales.
- NBA All-Star Game: 2001.
- WNBA All-Star Game: 2002, 2007.
- ISU World Figure Skating Championships: 2003.
- ACC men's basketball tournament: 2005, 2016.
- BB&T Classic Basketball Tournament: held annually.
- Mike Tyson vs. Kevin McBride: June 11, 2005, Tyson's final fight.
- Kids' Inaugural: We are the Future: Jan. 19, 2009, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama
- NCAA's Men's 2009 Frozen Four hockey championship: 2009
- The Archdiocese of Washington Youth Rally and "Mass for Life": Every January, from 2004 to present.
- The Jonas Brothers played to a sold-out crowd on July 13, 2009, where Michelle Obama and her two daughters were in attendance.
- The Verizon Center hosted its 30 millionth fan on March 13, 2010, and ranked as the ninth highest grossing venue worldwide in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
- Lady Gaga had performed at the arena on two different occasions throughout The Monster Ball Tour and was set to perform during The Born This Way Ball Tour, on February 25, 2013, until it was canceled, due to a hip injury.
- The Ultimate Fighting Championship is set to have a mixed martial arts card at the center on Oct. 1, 2011.
- In February 2012 the Verizon Center was featured in a Washingtonian article detailing a basketball-to-hockey "changeover" in the arena.
- P!nk entertained a sold-out crowd at the Verizon Center on March 14, 2013, showcasing her 2012 album “The Truth About Love.”
- The Rolling Stones performed their last US show on the 50 Years & Counting Tour on June 24, 2013.
- Beyoncé performed two sold out shows at the arena on July 29 and 30, 2013 and is set to perform on December 18, 2013 with her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. The concert on July 29 sold out in under one minute The singer has previously performed two sold out shows at the arena before: One on June 24, 2009 as part of the I Am... Tour and the other on August 9, 2007 with The Beyoncé Experience Tour.
- Michael Bublé pleased a nearly sold-out Verizon Center on September 22, 2013, performing both covers of old time favorites and his own material.
- Elton John performed at Verizon Center on November 14, 2013, delivering a performance full of hits from throughout his career to a sold-out audience.
- Miley Cyrus brought her Bangerz Tour to the venue on April 10, 2014 with a sold-out concert. She had previously performed in there for her 2009 Wonder World Tour, and 2008 Best Of Both Worlds Tour.
- Lady Gaga was scheduled to perform on May 15, 2014 in the arena for her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball world tour but the concert was rescheduled on May 12, 2014 to avoid any potential conflict with the Washington Wizards playoff game. The show continued and the event was sold out.
- Katy Perry is set to bring her Prismatic World Tour on June 24 and 25, 2014.
- Cher is set to bring her Dressed to Kill Tour (Cher) on April 4, 2014.
- Taylor Swift has played six sold-out concerts in the Verizon Center. She performed for her Fearless Tour on June 1 and 2, 2010; Speak Now World Tour on August 2 and 3, 2011; and the Red Tour on May 11 and 12, 2013. All of the shows sold out within minutes.
- At the start of the 2010-11 season, Verizon Center food partners Aramark and Levy joined the Capitals in a league-wide food donation program called Rock & Wrap It Up. The program has since been extended to all events at the arena. With this program, almost all food that is prepared for games and events that goes unused is donated to DC Central Kitchen.
- On February 10, 2012, the Washington Capitals hosted the third-annual Caps Care Casino Night and Auction. Over 600 fans turned out for the sold-out event, playing casino games to earn raffle tickets, snacking, dancing, and participating in live and silent auctions, with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Love for Lokomotiv, and Washington Capitals Charities. The event raised a total of $353,851 for the various charities.
- During the 2012-13 season, the Capitals Courage Caps program raised more than $105,000 for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Since the program began during the 2007-08 season, the Courage Caps campaign has set a new record for giving each year. By the end of the 2012-13 season, a total of nearly $350,000 was given to TAPS through the program.
- Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation donated $10,000 to the NHL’s Thurgood Marshall College Fund at the Congressional Hockey Caucus Briefing on Capitol Hill on April 24, 2013. This academic scholarship is part of the partnership between the NHL and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for participants in the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone (HIFE) initiative, the league’s official youth development program.
- During the 2013-14 school year, 20 staff members from Monumental Sports & Entertainment participated in the Everybody Wins! DC Power Lunch program, a literacy and mentoring program based in select elementary schools in the Washington metropolitan area. Each week during the school year MSE staff members took time out of their days to visit with their mentees, spending time reading and conversing during lunch.
- Washington Capitals forwards Jay Beagle, Aaron Volpatti, and Tom Wilson and Washington Wizards guards Bradley Beal and Glen Rice, Jr. joined more than 250 volunteers from Eagle Academy Public Charter School and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the Congress Heights neighborhood in September 2013 to build a new playground at the Eagle Center at McGogney. Students at the school had been playing indoors or on a field with no play structure. The new equipment provided more than 1,200 children in the neighborhood with a safe place to play.
- In October 2013, Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt, alumnus Paul Mulvey, and mascot Slapshot participated in the Playworks Washington, D.C., Hockey Extravaganza at J.O. Wilson Elementary School. The extravaganza served as the launch for the Playworks co-ed street hockey league, a pilot program with students from Arts and Technology Academy Public Charter School, Bruce Monroe Elementary School, Smothers Elementary School, West Education Campus, and J.O. Wilson Elementary School.
- The Washington Capitals raised $39,521 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s National Capital Area Chapter during the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night on October 19, 2013, by auctioning off autographed jerseys that the players wore during pregame warmups.
- In October 2013, the Washington Capitals partnered with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue to create the 2014 Capitals Canine Calendar. Homeward Trails is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides pet adoption in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. The calendar, which went on sale December 3, 2013, features photos of Capitals players with their dogs as well as dogs from Homeward Trails. All proceeds went to benefit Homeward Trails. The previous Capitals Canine Calendar raised $30,000 for the Washington Animal Rescue League.
- On November 7, 2013, the Washington Wizards hosted wounded warriors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as well as families from Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) at Verizon Center. The visit was part of the launch of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation’s Wizards Courage Program.
- Monumental Sports & Entertainment partnered with NBC4 for the Food 4 Families food drive, held on November 25, 2013, outside Verizon Center. Fans were encouraged to drop off non-perishable canned goods or make monetary donations in order to help families in need in the D.C. area at Thanksgiving.
- In December 2013, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and Hoops for Youth Foundation collaborated to provide a new outdoor basketball court for Horton’s Kids. Horton’s Kids is a local nonprofit that provides education and enrichment programs to young people in D.C.’s Ward 8.
- Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation’s Family-to-Family program took place in December 2013. Capitals players Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr, Mike Green, Steve Oleksy, and Joel Ward, Wizards players Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Nenê, John Wall, and Martell Webster and Mystics coach Mike Thibault delivered gifts to four underserved families in Washington, D.C.
- Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation received the inaugural Corporate Engagement Award as part of the 2013 Mayor’s Community Service Awards on December 17, 2013. The Mayor's Community Service Awards are presented annually to recognize, reward and encourage activities that make or have a significant impact on meeting the needs of District of Columbia communities.
- The Washington Capitals and Braden Holtby partnered with the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada to grant the wish of 8-year-old Braden Nienaber to meet the Capitals goaltender and other Capitals players from Jan. 11-12, 2014.
- Washington Bullets alumnus Bob Dandridge, Capitals Hall-of-Famer Rod Langway, and Washington, D.C. mayor Vincent C. Gray participated in a MLK Day of Service project hosted by Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and Playworks Washington, D.C., at West Education Campus in northwest D.C. on January 20, 2014.
Two notable fan fixtures at Washington Capitals games at Verizon Center since the late '90s include Goat and The Horn Guy. "Goat," aka William Stilwell, sits in Section 105 and loudly stomps and starts cheers for the team, with his loud voice that The Washington Post once called "the loudest voice and stompiest stomp on F Street."  "The Horn Guy," aka Sam Wolk, sits in section 415 and blows out three blasts on a horn to which the arena responds "Let's Go Caps!," a chant that can be heard during all radio and TV broadcasts.
Health code violations
In August 2010 ESPN's Outside the lines reported that the Verizon Center was one of only two major sports arenas in the U.S, and the only in the NBA/NHL, in which 100% of food vendors were found with at least one "critical or major" health code violation. Violations included mice droppings in at least 10 different vending locations.
Role in Chinatown
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. The Chinese population in Chinatown is a shroud of its former self - 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. 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 Verizon Center 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?'" Caps owner Ted Leonsis addressed this criticism directly. The ice quality issue has been persistent both since the opening of Verizon Center and with the Capitals franchise in general. Since Leonsis' acquisition of Verizon Center, 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.
The "Washington Mystics Attendance Champions" banners that hung at the Verizon Center had been the focal point of much criticism over the years, with many people believing that the rafters should be reserved for achievements by sports teams and not by the fans. Critics thought it was insulting to have banners for championships and retired numbers hang next to "attendance champion" banners. Originally there were six banners (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004); the number was later reduced to three in 2007 (for the first two seasons plus 2002, the only season in which the Mystics have won a playoff series to date) with the other three removed to make way for a banner honoring Final Four appearances by the Georgetown Hoyas.
The Washington City Paper had called them "embarrassing", a 2005 ESPN.com article by Todd Wright commented, "it's time to lose those Mystics attendance banners hanging from the rafters"; the Sports Road Trip website mocked the banners by stating "Oh... Mystics... WNBA 'attendance champions' in '98 and '99. Wheeeee!"
When Washington Post writer Jon Gallo was asked about the banners, he stated "The attendance banners were largely achieved because the Mystics gave away approximately 30 percent of their tickets before Sheila Johnson took over the team. If the Mystics had made everyone pay for a ticket, then they would not have had the best attendance in the league."
In the 2009 season, the Mystics once again led the WNBA in attendance at 11,338 per game; however, in an entry on his blog earlier that season, Ted Leonsis, whose Lincoln Holdings owns the Mystics, had promised that there will be no attendance banner for 2009 should the Mystics conclude the season with the attendance lead.
On Leonsis' authorization, the final remaining attendance banners were removed from the Verizon Center rafters in 2010.
NBA "Rain Delay" Game
On January 11, 2014 an NBA game at the Verizon Center between the Washington Wizards and the Houston Rockets was delayed a total of 57 minutes because a leak in the roof had made its way to center court. The first delay was 35 minutes, and occurred early in the 2nd quarter, and the 2nd delay was 22 minutes, and occurred at the beginning of the 2nd half. Verizon Center staff hung a tarp from the ceiling to temporarily stop the leak from getting onto the court. The game was 3 hours and 18 minutes long, including stoppages.
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- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- Verizon Center - Ellerbe Becket
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- "2013 KaBOOM Playground Build". Washington Capitals. September 28, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
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- "Featured Video: Family-to-Family Recap Campaign". Monumental Network. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- "Featured Video: Corporate Engagement Award". Monumental Network. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
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