We live in a real-time world. Fast paced, algorithmically driven, whoever captures and acts on the most data wins.
Young people want action, want value, seek belonging to a community, want access to the game and to the players, demand viewing options, and need low cost entertainment in major metro settings. With easy access to the event via public transportation or to be able to walk or bike to the arena.
I firmly believe that indoor sports are ascending and will continue to rise and grow; the NBA, NHL, and WNBA, G League, esports and yes, AFL too. Many points are scored, there is much back and forth action, with easy to identify players, as fans are close to the action in arena. And every step, every play, every movement will soon be captured digitally and transmitted in arena and online, to the fans benefit. The co-mingling of two screen action, and streaming of games via OTT will soon be the norm.
Indoor arena settings allow for comfort to customers. We offer and will invest even more in fidelity of high speed connectivity, we have great sight lines; we have high speed cameras capturing all movements, we will offer data and monitoring and in-arena gaming and one day even betting I believe on the game, the quarter, the half, even the play! We have high quality indoor screens; we will invest even more in fan comfort in arena.
Indoor arenas are very valuable to the community; we host almost 3 million people per year at Capital One Arena with more than 250 events. Compare that to a football stadium, with about 10 home games per season, and an occasional concert per year. We employ 3000 of your friends and family members and neighbors too at our enterprise. Full and part time and we are a proud union shop.
The NFL is an outdoor sport, invented for television, with views from the 50-yard line with talking heads as the true stars of the game. In a 3-hour game, a viewer will experience in stadium, in the suburbs, approximately 10 minutes of action. Attending a football game here in the greater Washington area can be a 6-hour investment of time getting to the game, watching the game, getting home. Who has 6 hours of time to watch 10 minutes of action? And when offered an option of camera angle; young people choose an in-game video game perspective, end zone to end zone.
I believe that video games are for this generation what TV was for the Boomer generation, and that the Arena Football League is perfectly positioned to grow along with the next generation of sport fan. It is an esport come to life, with 100 to 150 points scored in every game.
Our best selling and highest demanded tickets are standing room in the end zones; replicating dorm life, the best times of our lives! Who needs to tailgate outside when you can tailgate indoors with your friends - with unlimited food and connectivity!
A long-term industry of media talent has taught viewers what football is all about; but 11 on 11 action is very complex and is hard for cameras to capture and present the game, I believe that football should move indoors and be played with fewer players, with an emphasis on scoring, and skill and speed; which is what the Arena Football League is all about.
We here at Monumental Sports and Entertainment entered the Arena Football League last season and we did something unprecedented in that we launched and operated TWO new teams - the Washington Valor and the Baltimore Brigade. The Arena Football League is what I call a “fallen angel.” It has had its share of mis-steps as it originally tried to be like the NFL; instead of being everything the NFL was not. It expanded too rapidly to too many uncommitted ownership groups.
I have personally become very involved in the league and want to help it expand thoughtfully. We grew from 5 teams last season to 6 teams with the addition of Albany for this season; and we are in active discussions with two more teams to grow the league to 8. But, as you may have read, we now have taken a step back as both Cleveland and Tampa have suspended play for a season or two as they rebuild their arenas, and reset their operations and schedules. We are working with the AFL players union to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.Consequently—we hope to find a way to move forward and play with only four teams this coming season: Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Albany.
It wasn’t that long ago that the NBA Finals —with Magic Johnson and the Lakers; were on tape delay television. Today, the NBA is the fastest growing and perhaps most popular global sport across media.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was told that the NHL was “done;” and that the hockey community was very small and the Washington Capitals were a niche team in popularity; as we now are close to our 400
th consecutive sell-out.
All trees don’t grow directly to heaven; Rome wasn’t built in a day. There are many clichés to consider, but I believe in the game’s design, in the players and in the great positioning the league has as a sport. I know our fans loved the game and in game experience last season, we will soldier on, we will continue to support the league—and make it relevant—and in time it will expand and will grow and we will be pioneers in this restart of the league.
I believe in taking on challenges if it benefits the community, the fan base, the players and can build long term value; while creating jobs and tax revenues for our community.
We invested much last season, I am proud of our organization for what it accomplished—we carry on. We go forward, we will make this work.