Ted Leonsis' List of 101 Signs of Visible Change

It has been an incredibly faced-paced, exciting and rewarding three-plus months since we formed Monumental Sports & Entertainment and acquired the Washington Wizards, Verizon Center and the local Ticketmaster franchise. My partners and I are fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated staff as we prepare to usher in many of the changes our fans have suggested. We all have worked incredibly hard as we prepare for the upcoming NHL and NBA seasons.At the June news conference announcing the acquisitions, I informed our fans that I had opened my TheWashWiz@aol.com account and invited them to share their thoughts, concerns and wishes, much like Capitals fans have been doing for years. I had planned to use those emails to augment the list of changes I had hoped to enact. But I didn’t anticipate the tremendous response I would receive from Wizards fans as well as additional suggestions from Capitals and Mystics fans and others who attend Verizon Center events. It was staggering, eye-opening and rewarding. I’ve received more than 4,000 emails - some lengthy, some short, some wide-ranging, some direct.

In addition to all the emails, I have attended many events that included current plan-holders, potential plan-holders and plan-holders who have failed to renew this year. I’ve met with business partners and those considering a partnership with us. I have hosted town-hall meetings with hundreds of people at a time, been in small-group discussions, connected with others via phone and encountered many of you in one-on-one settings around town or while attending other events. In all, I believe I had more than 10,000 interactions in the first 100 days of our ownership.

So we took all of this feedback and we got to work. As you may recall, originally I blogged about 101 things that were brought to my attention shortly after the news conference, but that list grew rapidly. We already have changed 101 things in 101 days - and more. Bottom line - you are demanding a double-bottom line business from us. You want us to do well but you also want us to be good citizens. You want us to build playoff contending teams. You want us to compete for and win championships. You want us to do it in a way that makes you proud. We hear you!

List of 101 Signs of Visible Change

You asked for (us to)… Completed? What we’re doing
1. More transparency concerning strategy and plans via more connection with fans Frequent updates on TedsTake.com; provide public insight in team development strategy; 10,000 touch points in first 100 days
2. Reconnect with Gilbert Arenas Met with Gilbert and connected in person and via
3. Open some practice sessions to the public Training camp held at GMU with some practice sessions and scrimmage open to the public
4. Visible involvement with local youth basketball Hired a Director of Camps and Clinics
5. Additional benefits for season-ticket holders VIP ticket holders get free drinks and food; improved parking
6. Improve game presentation and halftime entertainment Will be showing 3D video on opening night and periodically during the season; invested in Crowd Wave technology; upgraded sound and light systems
7. Re-engage with alumni for more participation; launch alumni program Launched Wizards/Bullets Alumni Association led by Bobby Dandridge
8. More season-ticket holder access to the owner Have held dozens town hall meetings and other events with season-ticket holders
9. Create additional “dream seats” and enhance amenities Added 8 new courtside dream seats for Wizards games; added amenities for VIP ticket holders
10. Different Wizards’ cheerleader and Red Rockers’ outfits New outfits will be ready for opening night
11. Redesign WashingtonWizards.com; improve video options Website redesign completed
12. A new public address announcer Ralph Wesley named PA announcer
13. A new LED scorer’s table Installed new scorer’s table with LED display
14. Additional local cable programming Comcast SportsNet dedicated pregame shows
15. Improved recognition of longtime season-ticket holders In-development
16. Improved quality of promotional giveaways In-development
17. Renew connection with our fans in Baltimore Working on events for Baltimore fans
18. Fan access to additional in-game statistical information In-development
19. More organ music More organ music
20. Eliminate the “Dee-Fence” chant Eliminated
21. Move training camp close to D.C. Opened local training camp at the Patriot Center (GMU) with midnight tip-off
22. Maintain connection to Pollin family and charities Continued support for Abe’s Table
23. Develop student discount opportunities for local colleges Will institute student rush nights
24. More community involvement in Virginia George Mason University
25. More community involvement in Maryland In-development
26. Draft and develop international players Kevin Seraphin and Yi Jianlian
27. More local celebrities at games Owners’ Club program launched
28. Change Wizards’ colors back to red, white and blue In-development
29. Increased emphasis on the Wizards D-League team In-development
30. Draft more local college players for Wizards Under consideration
31. Change Wizards’ team name to Bullets Under consideration
32. Increase efficiency at concession stands Speeding up order-taking process at stands; roaming vendors
33. Improve arena lighting See: No. 6
34. Upgrade sound system; additional speakers installed See: No. 6
35. Ensure condiment containers are refilled Instructed vendors to make sure condiment containers are never empty
36. Launch environmentally friendly initiatives Capitals’ and Wizards’ media guides available in digital format; more recycling bins; looking at other Green initiatives
37. Fresher popcorn Asked Aramark to make sure popcorn is always fresh
38. Fresher buns See: No. 37
39. Warmer pizza Turned up heat in ovens
40. Place renewed emphasis on general cleanliness and food safety Working with Aramark to make Verizon Center best-in-class
41. Wi-Fi access WiFi access is now available
42. Food and beverage vendors in stands Beer and peanut vendors in stands at games
43. Colder beer Turned up the cooling system
44. Red white and blue more noticeable in the area Painted garage red, white and blue; arena steps red
45. Improved cell phone reception Working with cell phone carriers to install antenna and improve reception
46. Better iPhone connectivity See: No. 41
47. New usher uniforms Ushers have new game-day uniforms
48. Improve training for ushers In-development
49. Coordinate with metro to improve scheduling and avoid delays In-development
50. Add historic photographs throughout arena Have added memorabilia and photos around Verizon Center
51. Improve parking for plan-holders Added parking as an amenity for VIP ticket holders
52. Increased number of merchandise items In-development
53. Improved amenities on club level Working with Aramark and Levy to provide additional offerings
54. Additional vegetarian food options Will be offering expanded menu of vegetarian food options
55. Kosher food options added to menu Offering kosher food options
56. “Local flavor” to be added to concession menus In-development
57. Improved and upgraded suite amenities Have upgraded a number of suites including Owner’s Suite and Owner’s Club
58. Cleaner mirrors in the bathrooms More Windex issued to staff
59. Install beverage shelf in the men’s restrooms Beverage shelves installed
60. Repair latches in the women’s restrooms Latches fixed
61. Increased efforts to combat ticket scalping near arena Working with DC police to combat problem
62. Paper towels always available, even if hand dryers are present Taken steps to ensure that paper towel dispensers are re-filled during games
63. Replace stained and worn carpet in patron areas Have installed new carpet where needed
64. Improved Verizon Center signage New banners on exterior of building; new images depicting Capitals, Mystics and Wizards history on concourse
65. New banners recognizing team accomplishments See: #64
66. New concourse images of current players and legends See: #64
67. Added memorabilia items for display in suites Some suites upgraded
68. Clean arena windows more frequently In-development
69. Increased messages asking fans to be respectful of others Done
70. Concession e-mail feedback option on the Verizon Center website In-development
71. Paint stairs red Thousands of stairs painted red
72. Paint the garage Garage painted red, white and blue
73. Acela Club redesign Completed and tickets being sold
74. Add ledge seating to Acela Club Completed and tickets being sold
75. Add standing room only seats for Capitals Completed and tickets being sold
76. New Owners’ Club suite Owner’s Suite and Owner’s Club renovated
77. New executive offices Offices renovated
78. Upgrade the online “will call” process In-development
79. Food and beverage directory to be available online In-development
80. Additional TDD offerings at the Verizon Center In-development
81. Offer valet parking for VIP ticket holders Done
82. Concierge service available at the Verizon Center In-development
83. Owner commitment to blog regularly about all teams – Capitals, Mystics and Wizards TedsTake.com
84. Combined ticket packages including Capitals, Mystics and Wizards Available and on-sale
85. Partner with restaurants and businesses to provide discounts for fans Discount coupons for season-ticket holders
86. The Owner’s Suite to be used for charitable purposes Owners host many events in the suite
87. Keep toilet paper stock in bathrooms Staff asked to ensure toilet paper dispensers are never empty
88. Less random discounting of tickets Done
89. More autograph sessions Capitals’ Convention; Wizards’ FanFest
90. More music variety Done
91. More stand-alone concession carts Done
92. Social media tweetups Done
93. Improve media room Will install new carpet, tables and chairs
94. Create more energy in the arena New videos, music and technology
95. More equitable distribution of prizes to various sections In-development
96. Create a “basketball junkies” ticket package including Wizards, Mystics and Hoyas In-development
97. Additional iPhone applications In-development
98. Work with city to increase visible levels of security around Verizon Center Done
99. Text for service capability in arena for all fans Done
100. Upgrade family rooms for players and friends Done
101. New ways to clean arena by fans In-development

Perhaps the most visible change to date was the switch to George Mason University for Wizards training camp. One of the things you asked for was an opportunity for a greater connection with the team, so we listened and moved our training camp from its traditional site near Richmond to George Mason, here in Northern Virginia. We started training camp with Wizards Midnight Tip-off - I’m told it’s the first time an event like this has happened in the NBA. Our players and coaches were really excited and nearly 4,000 fans showed up at the Patriot Center. George Mason president Dr. Alan Merten and basketball coach Jim Larranaga have been exceptional hosts. It was a fantastic way to hit the court running.

One of the common themes I heard in your comments was the need to freshen up and spruce up the Verizon Center. We hear you, and we had similar thoughts. We have more ideas and plans in the works, but here are a few of the more significant and notable projects we’ve already completed:

• We painted the arena’s parking garage red, white and blue (and it’s a pretty big garage).

• Then we decided that wasn’t enough, so we painted the stairs in the Verizon Center red. There are literally thousands of stairs in the Verizon Center, but I think you’ll agree that it looks great.

• We changed the game-night attire for all of our ushers, and their new uniforms are fashionable and professional - they really look fantastic.

• We undertook a major project in the Acela Club, building what we refer to as new “ledge seats” where fans can sit and watch the games while enjoying the great food and beverages that are served up there.

• We’ve invested significantly in a new lighting system and an upgraded sound system. We have a great atmosphere now, especially for Capitals games, but these additions really are going to help improve the game experience and make it even more exciting and enjoyable. We also have invested in Crowd Wave technology that will get our fans much more involved in our game entertainment.

• Many of you complained about the quality as well as the time it took to order and purchase your food. So we’ve taken steps to speed up the process at every food stand in the building. We also have put a select number of vendors with food and beverages back in the stands so that you don’t have to leave your seats. We’ve taken steps to make sure the beer is cold (do you know we serve nearly 50 brands of beer?), the pizza is hot and the popcorn is fresh. We’ve added a number of kosher, gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan food offerings. We also have added a text service that allows fans to give us immediate feedback on how we are doing.

• Importantly, we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure that the concession areas are clean and inviting. I even joined our cleaning staff to make sure I understood how it all works - the same day that President Obama visited us at a Mystics game.

• We’ve added LED displays at courtside for Wizards games that look great and also allowed us to offer an additional eight courtside “dream seats.” We will be offering free food and drink for our VIP seat-holders, and we’ve built a number of new VIP areas for those fans. The one I’m most excited about is the new Owner’s Club, where those VIP seat-holders will be able to mingle during and after games.

These are only a few of the changes we’ve made, and we’re not even close to being done. Take a look at our To-Do List and you can see the items that are checked off as well as other items that are in progress. There are still changes around the corner, too, like reinstituting the Wizards red, white and blue uniforms, but not everything can be completed in 101 days. Dick Patrick, Monumental Sports & Entertainment COO and president of the Capitals, and his staff have been working extremely hard on all of these changes, and we think when you come to Verizon Center for a game or concert, you definitely will notice and appreciate their hard work.

I admire the level of engagement demonstrated by our fans as I assembled the list, and I do firmly believe in our collective wisdom. We are in this together - to improve your experience at Verizon Center and to build championship-caliber teams that will make all of us proud.

This is a process, and our staff has worked extremely hard to make as many of these changes as quickly as possible. But please be assured that we won’t stop listening. Obtaining your feedback makes all of us better and puts us in a position to better serve you. So I am always cognizant of that, no matter how many changes we have made or may make, I will believe in the wisdom of our crowds.

So take a look at the list and see what changes will impact you the most. You asked. We listened, and we are doing our best to deliver.


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