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Capital Buzz: New premium seats for Capitals, Wizards fans

By Thomas Heath
Monday, August 16, 2010; 4

Ted Leonsis has owned the Washington Wizards NBA team and Verizon Center for just two months, and already changes are afoot on the business side. First he renamed the sports empire -- Washington Capitals, Wizards and Verizon -- Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Then he put his business and media team in place to oversee operations.

In a search for new revenue opportunities, Leonsis is hiving off the front of the Acela Club restaurant at the arena and installing two rows totaling 117 premium seats.

The deal works like this: front-row Capitals season tickets are $6,500 per seat, which includes access to a buffet, unlimited soft drinks, game program and off-site parking. Second-row seats are $5,500.

The Wizards -- not surprising given the team's poor play in recent years -- are cheaper, at $4,500 and $4,000 for the first and second rows, respectively.

"With high demand for Capitals tickets, we investigated new ways to create seating locations," Leonsis said in an e-mail. "We typically had fans enjoying a great dinner in the Acela Club and then going to their seats in the stands to watch the game. So we thought it was natural to create a permanent seat location where fans may enjoy dinner as well as the game. It simply was a way for us to attempt to keep up with the demand for tickets."

The Buzz hears that most of the Capitals tickets are sold.

SPEAKING OF LEONSIS ...

He has just finished producing his third documentary film. The mogul and Rick Allen, chief executive of Leonsis's SnagFilms, will premier "A Fighting Chance" on broadcast television on ESPN on Veterans Day. The documentary is about Kyle Maynard, an athlete, author and speaker who was born without fully developed arms and legs. The film is now available for a very limited sneak peak on SnagFilms in advance of its ESPN broadcast premiere.

THE BUZZ HEARS ...

-- Dan Akerson, General Motors chief executive-to-be and current Carlyle Group managing director, will keep his McLean residence but is also looking for a place near the automaker's downtown Detroit office. Look for him to be on the road a lot, minding GM's worldwide operations.

-- Former AOLer Andy Erickson and his brother Jim doubled visitors and revenue in the second month at their Reston start-up CriticalPast, which offers film producers and history buffs royalty-free downloads of 57,000 historic videos and 7 million still photos. Andy worked on various AOL offerings from 1996 to 2006. Jim worked in the D.C. and L.A. film markets, handling motion picture conversions for TV programs and movies.

-- Herndon-based GoCanvas nailed a deal with Deluxe Corp., one of the world's largest distributors of paper forms, to put millions of business forms into applications on mobile devices. "It works on BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile, laptops, iPhones and iPad," said GoCanvas co-founder James W. Quigley. "You can download apps, or build your own and customize it. You can still buy the paper form. Or you can download it." GoCanvas revenue has grown 50 percent a month since last November, and Quigley is predicting 1,000 paying customers by year's end.

SCOUTING OUT SPACE

The Buzz talked to Washington restaurant entrepreneur-to-be Karen W. Finley last week as she prepared for her daughter's weekend wedding at the family's home in Martha's Vineyard.

Finley recently bought the rights to open three Washington locations of Energy Kitchen, a Manhattan-based eatery serving nothing over 500 calories to customers such as Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman and Paula Abdul.

"This is the future of fast food," said Finley, 58, a former math teacher who has lived in Northwest D.C. for 20 years. "I want to bring people what they need. It's hard living in a fast-paced society. I'm doing my part to help people eat better."

She discovered Energy Kitchen a few years ago in Manhattan's downtown financial district. Her husband had meatloaf. She recalls a breakfast of black beans and spinach. "I've been a customer ever since."

She has an appointment with a real estate person in a week to start looking for space for the first restaurant. It will be in downtown D.C.; the next two will be in Georgetown and Chevy Chase, D.C.

"It's a little scary, but exciting," she said.

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