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Should the Wizards have a home game at the Entertainment and Sports Arena this season?

Fans will be significantly limited if they are allowed this season. And since the team wants to have direct outreach to residents of Ward 7 and Ward 8, this isn’t a bad idea.

Fans came out to cheer on the Washington Mystics on Sunday September 8, 2019 as they played Chicago Sky. The Mystics won 100-86
The Entertainment and Sports Arena is part of the same complex as the Wizards’ and Mystics’ practice facility. It would be neat to have an NBA game there this season, even though I am still against the idea.
Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you are signed up to SB Nation NBA reacts and received this week’s survey for Washington Wizards fans, you may have noticed some additional questions besides whether you felt confident in the Washington Wizards’ direction.

Here’s my answer to it, even though they are on a three-game win streak.

I won’t get into the weeds on the Wizards’ performance this past week on this post, because the survey also asked a question regarding whether they should hold a game at another venue:

At this point, I think you all know I strongly discourage any of you going to a Wizards game this season. So why am I looking like a hypocrite here?

The reason why I’m suggesting this idea (yes, I can get the SB Nation Reacts team to put it more questions) is because though I still discourage people from going to games, I get that many would still like to go to a game anyway.

Also, coronavirus cases are also dropping nationwide (and worldwide) so it wouldn’t surprise me to see some Wizards home games with fans this spring. Since the second half of the season schedule isn’t released yet, maybe now is as good of a time as any to share it.

So why would ESA make a good venue for the Wizards for one or two games? Here’s why”

  • Such a game can be a form of local outreach to Wards 7 and 8, which have more lower income households than elsewhere in D.C. — The Wizards already practice at an adjoining facility, but I also don’t see them hosting any major events there. An actual game is one of the most notable ways to get exposure for the area, along with existing charity and community service efforts.
  • These games can be attended by selected groups of people like first responders and healthcare workers, preferably based in Wards 7 and 8 — Again, this feeds into the outreach and good PR narrative. We don’t have to have season ticket holders buying seats for these games.
  • There will likely never be regular season NBA games at ESA again after this season — ESA, which is the home of the Washington Mystics is the smallest venue in the WNBA with 4,200 people. Once the pandemic is over, I won’t be seriously considering it as a place for the Wizards to host a game due to the amount of ticket revenue they can get. But this season, it’s not like teams can easily pack the stands with 4,000 fans anyway, even if local governments allow them to.

Of course, there are reasons why I can see pushback.

  • The Wizards will lose more money with any games at ESA instead of Capital One Arena — If the D.C. government allows sporting events to have fans at 10 percent capacity, that means ESA can only have 420 people while Capital One Arena could have closer to 2,000. And even if the Wizards decide to have a game with only first responders and healthcare workers in attendance, they can still hold many more people at Capital One Arena than ESA.
  • Couldn’t ESA be a mass vaccination site instead? That’s a fair point because it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest venue east of the Anacostia River. I’m not sure how the logistics of these things are, especially since the Wizards and Mystics are still practicing at the same complex. But to me, if ESA ever hosted an NBA game, it would only do so once or twice.

To all of you, do you think ESA would be a good venue for the Wizards to hold a game or two if fans are allowed this season? Let us know in the comments below. And if you haven’t already, sign up for SB Nation NBA Reacts below.