Susan O’Malley Bids Farewell to Washington Sports and Entertainment


After a 20-year run and countless successes, Washington Sports and Entertainment President Susan O’Malley has elected not to extend her contract with Abe Pollin’s company. The announcement was made jointly today by Pollin and O’Malley to the Washington Sports and Entertainment staff.

Following the completion of her current term, which expires June 30th, O’Malley will work with Pollin on selecting a successor for her position, and will stay on to advise Pollin through a transition period culminating with the Verizon Center’s 10th Anniversary celebration in December. A recent graduate of Georgetown University Law School (Spring ’07), O’Malley said that she will take some vacation time before announcing her future plans.

Susan O'Malley on Washington Post Live

AUDIO: Dave Johnson with Susan O'Malley

While President of Washington Sports and Entertainment, the 45 year-old executive’s far reaching responsibilities included all business operations of the Verizon Center, Washington Wizards and the Ticketmaster Washington-Baltimore franchise.

O’Malley became the first female president of an NBA franchise when she took over the reigns of the then-Washington Bullets in May of 1991. A 20-year veteran of the organization, O’Malley had immediate and remarkable success, turning around the business fortunes of the basketball franchise after only one season at the helm. Since that time, her responsibilities grew to manage the entire Pollin sports and entertainment empire.

“I want to thank the Pollin family for this exceptional opportunity,” said O’Malley. “Mr. Pollin put an enormous amount of faith in me and my abilities and I have learned a great deal from him. At the same time, the company itself is in a very good place, with our basketball team continuing to be successful both on and off the floor, and the Verizon Center, which is attracting fans in record numbers, undergoing a facelift to celebrate its 10th anniversary. This is a good time to make this transition and to pass the torch to someone else to guide Washington Sports and Entertainment.”

“Susan has been my right hand through the past 20 years and has helped guide the fortunes of our company,” said Washington Sports and Entertainment Chairman Abe Pollin. “She has simply been fantastic in every way, from the moment she came here to the present, and I will always be thankful for her guidance and leadership. I wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.”

Under O’Malley’s guidance, the Verizon Center (then MCI Center) was constructed and opened to rave reviews and, since the opening, has attracted over 22.7 million patrons, hosting over 1,940 concerts and sporting events. The 20,000-seat facility is largely credited with spurring the economic boom in Washington’s Gallery Place neighborhood. Under Pollin’s direction, O’Malley marshaled the company’s resources and led its employees to establish the building as one of the nation’s premier venues.

With the Bullets/Wizards, O’Malley took a franchise that ranked last in most sales and customer service categories and quickly instituted programs and procedures that brought about dramatic change. Many of her customer service and community relations programs have been emulated industry-wide and the team’s season ticket renewal rates were consistently ranked among the NBA’s best. The franchise currently boasts a full season ticket equivalency base of just over 11,000 patrons and is coming off a season in which the team sold out 23 of its 41 home games, averaging 18,373 fans per game.

During her tenure, O’Malley also oversaw the business operations of the Washington Capitals from 1995 – 1999, highlighted by the Caps only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. O’Malley also helped establish the Washington Mystics WNBA franchise in 1998. Under O’Malley, the Mystics set attendance records for women’s basketball and became one of the WNBA’s success stories. Both the Capitals and Mystics were sold to Lincoln Holdings in 1999 and 2005 respectively.