You might say that professional sports is a big thing with this company. Monumental Sports & Entertainment is a holding company that controls three sports franchises in Washington, DC, including the Washington Wizards professional basketball team, the Washington Capitals hockey club, and the Washington Mystics women's basketball franchise. The company also owns and operates the city's Verizon Center, an all-purpose venue that serves as home for all three sports teams. In addition, Monumental Sports manages the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis formed the company when he acquired the Washington Wizards in 2010.
The creation of Monumental Sports completed a long process during which Leonsis has slowly taken control of a sports empire once controlled by the late Abe Pollin. Leonsis, through a holding company called Lincoln Holdings, acquired the Capitals in 1999 along with a 44% stake in Pollin's Washington Sports & Entertainment, which included the Wizards franchise and its Verizon Center home. After Pollin's death in 2009, his family sold the remaining 56% of Washington Sports to Leonsis and his investment group for about $310 million.
Leonsis built his fortune as one of the chief architects of America Online (now AOL). His investment group includes minority partners Dick Patrick (president of the Capitals) and Sheila Johnson (president of the Mystics), along with Scott Brickman (CEO of The Brickman Group) and Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner.
Pollin had been the longest-tenured owner in the National Basketball Association, having acquired the Wizards franchise in 1964 when it was called the Baltimore Bullets. He later moved the basketball team to Washington, DC, in 1974, and that same year established the Capitals hockey club. To house his two teams, Pollin spearheaded the development of the MCI Center, which opened in 1997. (The venue was renamed Verizon Center after telecommunications giant Verizon Communications acquired MCI in 2006.)
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