Ted Leonsis, chairman and CEO of newly created Monumental Sports & Entertainment, announced today that he and his partners have officially completed the transaction to purchase the NBA’s Washington Wizards and Verizon Center.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which merges Lincoln Holdings LLC and Washington Sports and Entertainment LP, combines three professional sports teams into one ownership group. The NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics now will be owned and managed by a single entity. Monumental also assumes ownership of Verizon Center, which is the premier sports and entertainment venue in Washington, D.C., and the anchor of the thriving 7th Street-Penn Quarter neighborhood. Additionally, the new group controls the local Ticketmaster franchise, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Capitals’ state-of-the-art training facility in Arlington, Va., and George Mason University’s Patriot Center, located in Fairfax, Va.
This transaction makes Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which operates in the nation’s fifth-biggest media market, one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports.
“My partners and I look forward to playing a more significant role in the fabric of the nation’s capital and the surrounding communities,” Leonsis said. “Sports have a significant impact on the day-to-day life of any great city and I believe that owning teams is a public trust. We are going to work hard to improve the fan experience at our games and to build championship-caliber teams. More important, we are going to work hard to make all of our teams worthy and deserving of our fans’ support and passion.”
The executive management team of Monumental Sports & Entertainment will include Leonsis as the majority owner, chairman and CEO. Dick Patrick will be vice chairman and COO while continuing to serve as president of the Capitals. Raul Fernandez will be a vice chairman as will Sheila Johnson, who will continue in her role as president and managing partner of the Mystics.
The NBA unanimously approved the sale of the Wizards to Leonsis’ group. “We are pleased that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved Ted Leonsis’s purchase of majority ownership of the Wizards from the Pollin family,” said NBA commissioner David Stern. “The transaction signifies the end of an era and a passing of the torch into very capable hands. We have long admired what Ted has done with the Washington Capitals in terms of sales, marketing and outreach in the community, and we look forward to him bringing those skills to bear for the Wizards.”
Leonsis has been the majority owner of the Capitals since 1999, guiding a team that has enjoyed success on and off the ice, most recently winning the 2009-10 President’s Trophy as well as being one of five finalists for the Sports Business Journal’s Professional Sports Team of the Year Award.
“Ted Leonsis treats ownership as a trust, as a total commitment to a community and a fan base,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “He has displayed that devotion throughout his stewardship of the Washington Capitals, and I have no doubt the Wizards – and Verizon Center – will benefit from the same vision, leadership and passion that are the trademarks of every project he undertakes.”
At the time of the acquisition, Monumental also welcomed four new partners: Scott Brickman, Albert H. Cohen, Neil D. Cohen and the SWaN Group, led by Fred Schaufeld, Clifford A. White and Anthony P. Nader. Brickman is the CEO and director of Brickman Group, a leader in the commercial landscaping industry with more than 10,000 employees. Albert Cohen is a renowned local businessman, builder and investor as well as the former president of Frederick Construction Company, which built many local facilities and schools. Neil Cohen is the president and CEO of District Photo Inc., which is the largest direct-to-consumer digital print, variable data printer and gift fulfillment service in the world. Schaufeld, White and Nader built the NEW Corporation, one of the world’s leading consumer products warranty companies. They are also investors in the Washington Nationals.
All of the Monumental Sports & Entertainment partners are active in Washington-area business as well as committed to numerous community and philanthropic ventures. “We are pleased to welcome our new partners who will add even more depth and experience to a group that already represents many of the most important businesses in the D.C. area,” said Raul Fernandez, vice chairman of Monumental. “We’re also proud that Monumental Sports & Entertainment is one of the most diverse ownership groups in all of professional sports.”
The group enters its tenure as owners of the Wizards focused on building a championship team. “It is not always easy from an ownership or a fan perspective, but the virtues of patience and persistence are vital when building any winning franchise,” said Dick Patrick, vice chairman and COO of Monumental. “As Ted and I have learned, there are no shortcuts to long-term success. For all of our sports, we must draft well, make prudent free-agent signings and develop a team-first mentality. It’s not done easily; it’s not done overnight. But done right, it will pay dividends.”
Lincoln Holdings has been represented in the transaction by Steve Greenberg and Terry Morris of Allen & Company, a New York City boutique investment bank; Brad Rangell of Citigroup, the well-known financial services company; and George Stamas and Andrew Herman of the law firm Kirkland and Ellis.