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Agreement reached on sale of Washington Wizards and Verizon Center

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Ted Leonsis sits at the top of the heap of professional sports in Washington, D.C., after an announcement today by the Abe Pollin family about the sale of its sports and entertainment empire. The family said in a statement that it has reached an agreement on the “major economic terms” to sell the family’s share of the Washington Wizards NBA basketball team, the Verizon Center and related Washington sports businesses to Washington Capitals owner Leonsis and his partners at Lincoln Holdings.

Abe Pollin and his wife, Irene, are credited with bringing three professional sports franchises to Washington: the Capitals (a National Hockey League team), the Mystics (WNBA women’s basketball team) and the Wizards, originally the Baltimore Bullets. They also were responsible for creating two sports arenas, the Capital Centre and the Verizon Center. 

Leonsis and some partners partners bought the Capitals and minority stakes in the Wizards and what is now the Verizon Center from Abe Pollin for a reported $200 million in 1999. As part of the deal, Leonsis got the first right of refusal to buy the rest of Pollin’s sports enterprises upon his death. Pollin died in November.  The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Other partners in Lincoln Holdings include Dick Patrick, one of the Leonsis’ original partners in 1999, as well as Richard D. Fairbank, CEO of Capital One Financial Corp., Sheila C. Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hospitality and Mark D. Lerner, a principal owner of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club and a principal of Lerner Enterprises, a real estate development and management company based in Rockville.


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