The Greene Turtle, a popular game-day gathering spot for Capitals, Mystics and Wizards fans at Capital One Arena since 2007, announced Wednesday it will close its location at the corner of Sixth and F streets NW after the Wizards’ final regular season game April 9.
The Maryland-based sports bar chain, which has nearly 50 locations in the Mid-Atlantic region, had three years remaining on its current lease but agreed to a buyout that will enable Monumental Sports and Entertainment to begin construction on a proprietary business concept. The Greene Turtle announced it will open “The Shell Raiser Lounge” — an open space serving food and drinks — for all Wizards and Capitals home playoff games this year before vacating its Capital One Arena location for good.
Terms of the buyout were not disclosed, and neither were details of the plans for the space. Monumental Sports and Entertainment completed $40 million worth of privately funded renovations to Capital One Arena last summer, and last month it announced an additional $15 million in upgrades scheduled to be completed this offseason.
“As we look to the future, an opportunity to expand our footprint has prompted us to explore new developments in all of the space in the arena,” MSE President of Business Operations Jim Van Stone said in a release.
There’s speculation that at least part of the space occupied by the Greene Turtle will be used for a sportsbook. The D.C. Council legalized sports betting in the District in December and granted four arena and stadium operators, including Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis, the option to open Las Vegas-style sportsbooks on site. Leonsis has talked openly about his desire to make Capital One Arena a destination for legalized gambling — and not only during games.
“I could see someone comes here for lunch, someone gets here at 5 o’clock, they’re watching other games, they’re placing their bets,” Leonsis told The Washington Post in an interview last year.
Leonsis told WUSA 9 last month that he didn’t envision a sportsbook opening inside Capital One Arena until the end of this year at the earliest.
The Greene Turtle opened at what was then known as Verizon Center in April 2007. The space, which provides direct access to the arena for ticket-holders, debuted as Velocity Grill when MCI Center opened 10 years earlier. Velocity Grill provided views of the Wizards’ practice court but closed after 18 months and was eventually auctioned to pay off more than $500,000 in back taxes. Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse and Drinx, which opened in August 2005, also occupied the space before The Greene Turtle brought some stability to the corner.
Greene Turtle president and chief executive Bob Barry said money from the buyout will be used to upgrade the chain’s other locations and that the company hopes to maintain a presence in Washington. The restaurant at Capital One Arena is the Greene Turtle’s only location in the District.
“We look forward to opening another restaurant in D.C. when the right opportunity presents itself,” Barry said. “In the meantime, we hope to serve our loyal Capital One Arena guests at our other locations.”
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