MCI Center's User's Guide
Sunday, November 30, 1997
A SENSE OF PLACE
If you can overlook the stamping of another corporate name onto a contemporary arena, the MCI Center may summon a long-gone time when winter games were played just a side-street shortcut from home or work.
THE REASONS WHY
What's in an arena? More than concrete and steel, it turns out. The MCI Center's idiosyncrasies get an explanation in this insider's guide to why some things are the way they are.
From the moment he set his sights on downtown Washington, Abe Pollin emphasized one reason for leaving Landover: mass transit. With the MCI opening, Pollin and the public will soon find out whether the mass transit bet is a good one.
'I HOPE ... I HOPE'
In a question-and-answer session, The Post Magazine asks Abe Pollin: Was it worth it?
One arena. Two teams. Two historically different crowds. According to studies done for Pollin, the Wizards generally appeal to a group of young professionals from 25 to 34 who are more diverse than their hockey counterparts, a virtually all-white audience from the suburbs that is slightly older.
THE NON-SPORTING LIFE
What can be done with a 20,000-seat arena when there are no basketball or hockey games? The answer used to be easy: concerts. Unfortunately for the MCI Center, its opening comes just as there seems to be a dearth of arena-size pop acts.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
The $200 million, state-of-the-art indoor coliseum goes beyond just moving megabuck sports into the geographical center of the nation's seat of government. From 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, you'll find enough bread and circuses to make $100 sneakers seem cheap by comparison.
CHINATOWN'S HOOP DREAMS
A hint of ambivalence floats on the Chinatown air these days, like one of the stray kitchen aromas that entice visitors into this small, struggling community. Residents and workers crave new vitality, but there are also concerns that the area could be overwhelmed.
A DINING GUIDE
Post food critic Phyllis C. Richman answers the questions: Where can you eat early and quick? and, What kind of meal will you be able to get after the event lets out?
In building the MCI Center, Abe Pollin asks: "Will they come?" And that's the subplot -- not how people will feel about coming to a new, state-of-the-art arena, but how people will feel about coming to the city that surrounds it.
THE ECONOMICS OF HOPE
The economic impacts of sports facilities have been much studied, and the academic consensus is that new ones do little to pump up a region's economy -- but such facilities can have a visible impact on the neighborhoods around them, particularly in cities where patrons can easily walk for a meal or a drink.
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company
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