By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2006
The Washington Capitals' new practice facility and headquarters in Ballston, which is set to open this month, will be named the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the team announced yesterday.
Kettler, a real estate development company based in Northern Virginia, has purchased the naming rights and will pay the Capitals roughly $400,000 per year for the next seven years, according to sources. Kettler was formerly known as KSI.
Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis announced the deal at the Arlington complex, which was built atop a parking garage adjacent to Ballston Common Mall.
"It's nice to have the best of something -- and hands down this is going to be best training facility in the NHL, maybe sports," Leonsis said. "It's going to rally the fans, the players and help us attract free agents. If you're young and single, what better environment to live in?"
The $42 million project, which was funded by Arlington County and will be leased long term to the Capitals, puts the team's training facilities and corporate offices under the same roof for the first time. The two NHL-size rinks also will be used by high school, college and community teams, as well as for public skating sessions.
For the Capitals players, it means more than a nice place to train. They'll also get a little more sleep. Many of the them purchased condos and homes in downtown Washington and Arlington in anticipation of practicing at the new rink beginning in September. But the opening has been pushed back several times because of construction delays, forcing the team to practice temporarily at Ashburn Ice House, 30 miles from downtown. It has made for some early mornings for the players, particularly after game nights.
"I'm usually a happy guy in the morning, but there will be a lot more smiles when I walk into this place," forward Dainius Zubrus said. "It's a beautiful facility. The players are excited."
The Arlington facility will replace the Capitals' longtime practice site, Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Anne Arundel County.
The ice is down at the new complex. The boards, glass, grandstands and scoreboards are in place. There are even three 12-by-20-foot posters of Capitals legends Dale Hunter, Rod Langway and Yvon Labre hanging at one end of the rink. Similar posters of current players will adorn the outside of the structure.
The Capitals are waiting for the certificate of occupancy, and for the locker rooms, offices and training rooms to be carpeted, painted and furnished. They could practice there as soon as Monday. The front-office staff will move in next month.
"I took a look at it last year when it was just structure and bones," said Capitals captain Chris Clark, who joked that he'll have to leave his pickup truck across the street because it's too tall for the parking garage. "The way it's looking right now, it's going to be a really special place. It's going to be well worth the wait."