Ted Leonsis’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment on Thursday announced the acquisition of an Arena Football League team that will play at Verizon Center beginning in the spring of 2017, with Monumental Sports’s Roger Mody serving as the managing partner of the team.
The acquisition of the as-yet unnamed team will be formally announced at a news conference Wednesday at Verizon Center. Leonsis, AFL commissioner Scott Butera, league officials and team ownership representatives, possibly to include fellow AFL owners Ron Jaworski and Gene Simmons, will be in attendance.
Washington will become the ninth AFL team and the only team on the East Coast between Philadelphia and Florida. Randall Boe, executive vice president and general counsel for Monumental Sports, said last month that the organization was in “serious negotiations” to bring an AFL team to D.C. and Butera praised both the Leonsis ownership group and the Washington market.
“We love the market, and it fits our strategic plan,” Butera said. “It’s a great football town, if you look at the support the Redskins have had over the years, and the other teams in the area. The population density, the media attention, the fact that we’re looking for more presence on the East Coast: It’s a nice strategic fit for us geographically. More importantly, we really like the Monumental group. We think they have a tremendous organization, and that’s really where it starts, in getting the right people and building around that.”
Washington’s expansion team will be the first indoor football team in D.C. since the D.C. Armor played in the American Indoor Football Association in 2009. The Washington Commandos were an inaugural member of the original Arena Football League in 1987 and averaged 11,000 fans per game in their first year at the Capital Centre, but folded after the 1990 season. There is no public timetable for choosing a name or logo for Leonsis’s new team.
Next week’s news conference and future games for Washington’s AFL team will be streamed live on the redesigned Monumental Sports Network, which was previously known as Monumental Network. The digital platform, owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, will re-launch on Monday with enhanced streaming capabilities across multiple devices.