Schmoozing, Redefined

Monday, August 27, 2007

Angela Drummond wants to take the idea of business-to-business schmoozing at sports events to high art. She is starting Collaborations, an ultra-exclusive corporate club to open at Verizon Center this October, in time for basketball's Washington Wizards and hockey's Washington Capitals to start their seasons.

Take Washington's old-line Metropolitan and Cosmos clubs, add some of the newness of the Tower Club in Tysons Corner and a sports venue atmosphere, and that's what Collaborations aspires to be.

"We're catering to the business elite," said Drummond, 40, who founded SiloSmashers, a government consulting firm in Fairfax.

Why should a business spend $50,000 on a Collaborations membership when the Wizards and Capitals have had marginally respectable records over the past two decades?

"It's the atmosphere, not so much the teams, that will be the draw," Drummond said. "We are going to make sure that everything is first-class, right down to the mahogany finishes. There's not going to be anything cheesy."

Collaborations plans to sell 60 corporate memberships starting at $50,000 a year and running up to $250,000. Drummond has six members signed up so far.

Top-level members receive courtside seats to some games, wine lockers, an assigned parking space and the best seats in the club. The club will be open every night that there is an event at Verizon Center, and members can book it for birthday parties, business meetings or special events.

Drummond leases the space for the eight luxury suites from Washington Sports & Entertainment, which owns the building, for more than $1 million per year. Washington Sports is paying for the construction of the club, but Drummond is responsible for paying for the food for members.

She said she hopes to take the concept nationwide.

Lori Lozada, chief executive of SRES, an executive recruitment firm with offices in Washington and Philadelphia, said she bought a $50,000 membership because of the super-networking possibilities. "What attracted me to it was the whole premise behind it, which was its very strategic way it approaches networking," Lozada said.

-- Thomas Heath

© 2007 The Washington Post Company