A deal was struck yesterday that will allow the City Title basketball games to be played at Verizon Center on March 5.
The boys-girls doubleheader matching the champions of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference will be played in the building for the first time since 2002. Three of the past four years, it has been played at George Washington University's Smith Center. In 2005, Coolidge High hosted the games.
"We want to make sure it is at a venue that gives the children pride," said D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who helped negotiate the deal with Washington Sports & Entertainment Chairman Abe Pollin. "Having it at a high school gymnasium sends a message that it's not as important."
The primary obstacle to a deal had been operating costs. According to Dawn Slonneger, chief of staff to Gray, the deal with WSE ensures that the DCIAA and WCAC will receive the first $18,000 in gate receipts to cover operating expenses, such as game officials, announcers, scorekeepers, trophies and programs. She said the next $30,000 in gate will go to WSE, which estimated that to be the cost needed for arena staff and security. If there is a shortfall, Slonneger said, WSE will cover that.
"They've indicated they only want to cover their expenses," Gray said.
General admission tickets are priced at $15 apiece, $10 for students, meaning there will have to be about 4,000-4,500 tickets sold to break even. When the facility last hosted the games in 2002, it drew just shy of 5,000. Last year's games at Smith Center drew 3,000.
Any additional revenue, Gray said, will go to the DCIAA and WCAC, which, he said, are still discussing a revenue-sharing plan. Gray said he is seeking sponsorship to cover the cost of some tickets for students.
"It's not unrealistic to think we could get eight or nine thousand," Gray said of possible attendance figures.
The girls' game will be at 5:30 p.m., with the boys' to follow at 7:30. All four teams will be allowed to practice at the arena on the evening of March 4.
Advance tickets will be on sale today at the DCIAA finals at Coolidge and the WCAC quarterfinals at Gallaudet, according to DCIAA Executive Director Allen Chin.