Capital Buzz: Monumental tones down the bright lights

February 5, 2012

After getting beat up over the jazzy outdoor digital signs it had planned, Monumental Sports & Entertainment went back to the drawing board — as well as to numerous community meetings — to find something its neighbors could live with.

That means downsizing the proposed signs, which could become a significant source of advertising revenue for Monumental, owner of the Wizards, Capitals, Mystics as well as the 14-year-old arena.

“We made presentations all over town. We got a lot of feedback,” said Monumental executive vice president and general counsel Randy Boe.

Monumental will be back in front of District officials in the next few weeks, showing renderings that reduce the size of the signs and relocate one digital sign higher on the corner of the Verizon Center overlooking 7th and F streets NW. The company will dismantle a longtime digital marquee on the 7th Street side of the arena.

The initial plans called for signs measuring 40 feet by 50 feet. The new proposed signs are a little over half that size, at 23 feet by 54 feet. Boe said Monumental will also be mindful of how much brightness — known as “illumination” — they pump into the signs.

David von Storch, president of Urban Advertures Cos., which owns the Bang Salon at the arena, had complained the earlier signs would encroach on the salon’s windows.

“Based on what we heard at our meeting, Monument is making changes to their original submission based on community input, and that show of good faith is the right way to proceed,” von Storch said.

Beyond the circus

Vienna-based Feld Entertainment, which produces shows from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Monster Jam to Disney On Ice, knows how to do big stuff.

Its Monster Jam truck fleet consists of 110 trucks.

Its two circus trains are the largest privately owned trains in the country — each over a mile long.

Feld employs more professional ice skaters than any other organization in the world.

So when the company announced last week that it was moving its production headquarters to a 47-acre facility on Florida’s Gulf Coast to economize operations, chairman Kenneth Feld saw other business opportunities.

The company has become so expert at moving and building live entertainment infrastructure that it wants to do the same for other events and companies — and charge for it.

“We have the ability to build the largest stages ever. We can fabricate the stage for the Super Bowl,” Feld said. “Right now, there are only a few companies that specialize in that kind of stuff. We will have the ability to do it as well.”

Ka-ching!

The Buzz hears:

The Tysons Corner Morton’s The Steakhouse — serving Northern Virginians for 20 years — ended its run last week when new owner, Fertitta Morton’s Restaurants, shut it down after taking over Feb. 1. The restaurant had been located in Fairfax Square, Tysons’ version of Rodeo Drive, where Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and other high enders have been ensconced. But take heart — the Morton’s in Georgetown, downtown D.C., Reston, Bethesda and Crystal City are still up and running.

Destination D.C., the official convention and tourism corporation for Washington, has selected District-based advertising firm MDB Communications to update its “Power” campaign and guide media planning.

Fro.Zen.Yo is preparing to offer a new coffee brand, Zombie Coffee, and has contracted with Scott Levine from The Design Difference, to construct the kitchen. For now, Zombie will be offered in Fro.Zen.Yo stores with its first test at one of the chain’s yogurt stores in March. Hugo Rodrigues and Jessica Caruso from Streetsense are doing the architectuals.

Shaping up

Marriott’s upscale JW Marriott brand has hired fitness and health expert Pamela Peeke to help slim down and de-stress the hotel chain’s customers, most of whom are high-end business travelers.

Peeke, a Bethesda resident who teaches at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will help create bed turn-down cards for travelers with hints on healthy eating, exercise and dealing with stress.

The company is also planning customized “Peeke Performance” retreats, articles in JWM’s in-room magazine and placing Peeke’s advice on social media networks.

Don’t worry, guests will not be marched to the gym.

heatht@washpost.com

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade. He has also covered local news, including the Maryland General Assembly and investigative work in Fairfax county. He has served as a correspondent for Newsweek and The Post, participating in coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber and the O.J. Simpson trial. Heath was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y., where he attended Catholic schools. He is a graduate of Fordham University and was a 2001-2002 fellow at Columbia University’s Knight/Bagehot business fellowship program.
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