For Wizards games, you might want to eat before you get to the arena


verizon.JPGAmong those hundreds of things Ted Leonsis was going to get around to fixing, not giving anyone food poisoning should be at the top of the list.

Every single foot vendor at Verizon Center — home of the Washington Wizards and NHL counterpart the Capitals — were found with a critical violation in the last year, according to an ESPN report. Ten of the sites were found with mice, um, droppings. ESPN looked at the food health inspection reports for every major league sports arena in the United States, and only the scourge that is Tropicana Field could match the Verizon Center in bad food preparation.

And you thought the cost of parking was making you sick.

This is Verizon Center, which as Sports By Brooks noted, in 2006 banned people from bringing food into the arena because they want to improve food safety and not have outside contamination coming in. Of course that was the reasoning. It certainly that had nothing to do with making you spend more money in the arena.

Ted Leonsis now owns the Wizards, the Capitals and the Verizon Center. This is one of those things that ultimately falls on the owner to change. It’s the “everything is the CEO’s responsibility” theory. He didn’t cook the food, in this case ARAMARK runs the standard concession stands and Levy Restaurants runs the suites. And they let him down. And now he’s got to get it fixed.

There has been no outbreak of food-born illness from Verizon Center (or any other park) but this is a matter of perception. Leonsis wants to change the image of the Wizards. This is where you start. Well, this and John Wall.

Washington Wizards sale appears closer, more likely


It’s not what’s being said, it’s who is doing the talking.

We’ve known for a month that the two sides in the sale of the Washington Wizards — the family of former owner Abe Pollin and incoming owner Ted Leonsis — had basically agreed to a price for the team and the Verizon Center. A cool $550 million.

But when that report first broke it was people talking off the record. Today it was the Pollin family talking to the Associated Press.

Leonsis, a former AOL executive, and the Pollins ran into some snags in talks this year. But in a statement Tuesday, Pollin’s sons, Robert and James, said they and their mother, Irene, congratulate Leonsis on this “near-final step in a long negotiation.”

“It’s not a ‘done, done’ deal, but it’s fairly close,” Robert Pollin said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “A signed deal should be a matter of days.”

Principles in a deal will not talk until things are so far along they can almost never go wrong. They are too cautious, to worried about things leaking that kill the deal. For the Pollin family to speak, it’s a sign that this is really all over but the fancy pens and a signing.

Congratulations Leonsis — you own the Washington Wizards. Good luck with that.