According to a report by Jonathan O'Connell and Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post, Monumental Sports is "close" to acquiring an Arena League Football team that would begin play for the 2017 season at Verizon Center. The AFL's season starts in the spring and ends in the summer.
Here's part of the article when Monumental Sports executive vice president Randall Boe spoke about the opportunity that arose:
"We’re in serious negotiations and we’re excited about the opportunity," said Randall Boe, executive vice president and general counsel for Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Boe said the organization hoped to finalize a deal in time to begin play next season.
"They’re very interested in having dedicated ownership groups like us who know how to manage teams and who know how to manage the business," Boe said.
The AFL currently has eight teams. The average attendance for the 2015 season was 8,947 fans per game. The AFL doesn't have many East coast teams, however. Assuming that Washington is the only new AFL city, the nearest teams include three teams in Florida and another in Philadelphia. Four teams folded last season, and the league wanted experienced owners, like Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports to be part of the league.
Since Washington is an avid NFL city and home of the Redskins, there is a good possibility that football-crazed fans will get season tickets to watch more games. In addition, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden played eight seasons in the AFL as a quarterback and was ranked the fourth-best player of all-time. Gruden also was an AFL head coach for nine seasons and won two ArenaBowls in 1998 and 2000. You can bet that he's excited.
On the one hand, it's exciting to see that Monumental Sports is expanding its sports portfolio. In addition to a planned D-League team after the Wizards and Mystics' practice facility, opens, we could see the company own five different sports teams.
But on the other, I don't know if Monumental Sports -- and Ted Leonsis especially -- have the bandwidth to support five different sports teams. I remember in 2010 when he would talk about having enough time to handle and take care of matters involving the Capitals, Mystics, Wizards, and the building they play in.
We know he's going to have to support a D-League team sooner rather than later, and an arena football team will take even more time away. At some point, owning sports teams becomes more of having a corporate portfolio of brands as opposed to being a passion.
Hopefully, Leonsis will still own the teams he does because he is genuinely interested in doing so. That's why fans like Ben Becker or myself really bought into his message back in 2010.