Update on Verizon Center Signage

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

About a week ago I shared some truly amazing statistics about the impact Verizon Center has had on the Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood.  Some of the highlights are:

  • Since Verizon Center opened, we’ve hosted nearly 3,000 events drawing tens of millions visitors (many of them from the suburbs), who not only go to our games and concerts but also eat and drink at local restaurants and stay at local hotels.
  • We draw approximately 2.5 million visitors to the Verizon Center every year.
  • We employ almost 3,000 people and a significant number of them are D.C. residents.
  • The Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop is the third busiest in the Metro system.
  • More than 1,500 people walk by Verizon Center every hour.
  • The Penn Quarter neighborhood has generated nearly $2.8 billion in tax revenues and generated 50,000 new jobs.
These are phenomenal numbers, and for those of you who have been in Washington long, you remember what the neighborhood was like before Verizon Center was built—today’s neighborhood is a stark contrast to what the area was like in the late 1990s. The other important fact, which is frequently forgotten or overlooked, is Verizon Center was built with private funds.  In most other cities, the sports teams play in facilities that have been paid for with public funds—for example, many of the teams we compete against in the NBA and the NHL like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Miami—all occupy buildings that are either owned by the city or were built with public funds (Nationals Ballpark was also mostly built with city provided funds).  What that means is that unlike those other teams, Monumental Sports & Entertainment has to foot the bill to operate the building and is responsible for the debt that was incurred to build it (MSE still carries more than $100 million of debt incurred to build Verizon Center).  Quite frankly, that puts us at a competitive disadvantage compared with those other teams. As a consequence, we are forced to continually identify new sources of revenue to help support our NBA and NHL teams (both of which lose money each year) and the arena.  One of those new sources of revenue is placing digital signs on the exterior of Verizon Center.  There is currently signage on the building.  For example, on the 7th Street facade, we have two 40’ x 50’ static vinyl wall signs and we have the two-sided digital video marquee (the one that displays “GEICO” at the top).  We want to replace those outdated signs with new state-of-the-art digital displays.  The new displays are smaller, far more attractive and are incorporated into the overall design of the building.  They will generate less illumination than the current GEICO sign and we believe will add to the vibrancy and excitement of the area that has become the sports and entertainment district in Washington, DC.  Take a look at what Verizon Center looks like now and then our proposal. 7th and G existing[/caption] corner existing[/caption] 7th and G Proposed[/caption] Corner Proposed[/caption] We’ve worked diligently with local neighborhood groups to allay concerns, even re-doing our initial designs based on their feedback.  We have worked to ensure that the signs will have little or no impact on residences in the neighborhood, have agreed to eliminate sound from the signs (our current signs actually have sound incorporated into them), have proposed the formation of a neighborhood advisory group to address any concerns about the signs and have promised to make the signs available to community groups to promote their events.  We also would make the signs available to the city for emergency notifications. These signs will be a needed source of revenue for us and will generate important tax revenue for the D.C.  We intend to reinvest these new revenues in our teams and Verizon Center, improving the exterior appearance of Verizon Center and giving us an enhanced ability to compete with teams in the NBA, NHL and WNBA who have municipally-financed facilities.  If you care about the Verizon Center, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, we want and need your support.  There will be a hearing on Wednesday, June 20th at noon in Room 412 of the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW) and you are welcome to attend.  If you’d like to express your support for our proposal, you can sign up to speak at the hearing by sending an email to Ed Fisher (efisher@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-741-2112.  If you can’t attend, you can send emails of support to the following City Councilmembers Phil Mendelson:  pmendelson@dccouncil.us Yvette Alexander:  yalexander@dc.council.us Mary Cheh:  mcheh@dccouncil.us Muriel Bowser:  mbowser@dccouncil.us Jim Graham:  jgraham@dccouncil.us Thanks for your support—you are the greatest fans and you deserve the greatest teams.

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