The Suite Life
An important Caps piece was in the Post today but it wasn’t found in the Sports section.
Colby King, a Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist for the hometown paper, weighed in on the
sweet suite deal the DC Mayor and City Council have at the Verizon Center – two luxe suites provided to them in a deal they inked with Abe Pollin. In 2007, the City ponied up $50 million dollars for upgrades for the relatively new arena.
King retraces the deal:
“Pollin, you may recall, gave the city’s elected leaders two suites, which are priced between $100,000 and $175,000 apiece annually, because they provided him with $50 million to upgrade Verizon Center in 2007.
Actually, Pollin gave the city only one suite, but Mayor Adrian Fenty hogged all the tickets. That led to the council’s begging Pollin to cough up another suite just for them. A more undeserving lot would be hard to find.”
Who gets access to those suites? It’s hard to tell according to King:
“Traci Hughes, spokeswoman for D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D), told me this week that no public records have been kept of who uses the luxury suite, and that a written policy on obtaining tickets to the suite was only recently introduced by Brown.
So taxpayers don’t know whether the luxury suites have been used only to promote the city or whether they have been used to reward campaign contributors and volunteers, to curry favor with special-interest groups, to entertain family members and friends, or for the officials’ personal enjoyment.”
That’s typical of the ruthless efficiency and cost consciousness that DC residents are all too familiar with.
Those $50 million in upgrades were to “help attract top-drawer, first class, top-level events to the arena that could generate millions in tourist dollars,” according to then Council Chair, now Mayor, Vincent Gray. Mission accomplished Mr. Mayor, and the many fans of Lady Gaga, Hannah Montana and Monster Trucks are thankful for your efforts.
King calls on Caps/Wizards owner Ted Leonsis to call backsies and reclaim the suites for more deserving sports fans. He doesn’t specify who, but at the going rate of $150,000 – $175,000 for a year’s lease, that pretty much leaves them available for well-heeled lobbyists only. Don’t get us wrong – we like us some lobbyists, and in full disclosure, we were the guests of a trade association on Tuesday evening for the Islanders game.
A few ideas of what to do with the suites if Mr. Leonsis reclaims them:
1. Set aside the seats for veterans and military families
2. Offer them up to civic and volunteer organizations
3. Auction off the seats and direct the proceeds to charitable groups
4. Put them back into general circulation and perhaps with that extra $350,000, defer price hikes on ticket sales
5. Reserve them for plucky and cheeky Caps bloggers who have not been credentialed for the press box
Well, four of those ideas may have merit.