Ted Leonsis on How the DC Sports and Entertainment Scene Has Changed Post-COVID

The owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, and Wizards and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, 65, on his favorite DC sports moment, tips for starting your career, and living in a post-pandemic world

How has going to a game or event changed post—COVID restrictions?

It won’t be until next season — four seasons in, 1,000 days — where you go, “Oh, it’s the same as it ever was. It’s back to normal.” Walking around the neighborhood here, you’re just starting to see some of the existing restaurants opening, some new restaurants opening. That’s why we want to bring 3 million people downtown through our games, our concerts, our events.

The concert scene is exploding because the acts weren’t able to tour, so now they can come back on the road. And all of that will work in concert, if you will, to bring people back in… And that’s a part of our role in the business community.

What can people expect when returning to DC?

I think we’re just kind of getting restarted. It’s great now, over the summer, to see tours coming back in. That’ll ignite more shopping and the like. We are all working to make Metro better, but Metro is central to Virginia and Maryland to bring people and employees in.

What are your go-to spots around Northern Virginia?

I used to eat a lot at The Palm Restaurant in Tysons. Reston is always a lot of fun.

You’ve been present during a lot of historic moments in DC sports. Do you have any favorites?

Well to me, the parade when we won the Stanley Cup. That’s just seared into my brain and into a lot of our fans’ brains. And mostly because the town, it was just so divided. And when we went down Constitution Avenue, it was like, “We agree on something. This is a lot of fun and this is very meaningful.” And I’ve always watched sports teams, their higher calling is to kind of unite the community so that you can build something that people see themselves into, so that was a big moment.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career or pursuing their dream job?

To me, it always starts [in] high school, college, where you say “I can envision myself working in politics. I can envision myself working at a sports team. Alright, I’m in high school, should I run someone’s campaign for student president? Should I volunteer to the coaches to work for them?”

This story originally ran in our August issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.

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