This is an unprecedented time. Developments on the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be fast moving. We now have all seen the reported cases in 43 jurisdictions across the U.S., and various local governments are taking a number of steps in response, including yesterday’s declaration of a “State of Emergency” in the District of Columbia. In the past two days, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) issued directives that all games are suspended until further notice. The NBA G League also announced today that it will suspend games. We will additionally continue to scenario plan around our upcoming WNBA season and events with details to be shared later this month.
In addition to following league guidance on Capitals, Wizards and Go-Go games, we will not host other events at Capital One Arena until further notice. We know the general public is anxious about the virus and the potential threat to our health and safety. We share your concerns. Safeguarding the health and welfare of the community is paramount.
Let me first start by providing some background on the decision-making process for NBA and NHL scheduled games. As a franchise, the league has the authority to make decisions for our teams that determine when, where and how we play. As a franchise, we cannot make those decisions independently – like whether fans can or cannot attend games or whether to cancel games or not – only the leagues have authority to do so, and all the teams agree to abide by that authority as members of the leagues. Our local government can supersede the leagues’ decisions through a city or state mandate or ban – but not with a recommendation.
In the case of the recommendation issued by DC Health (a department under the Mayor’s jurisdiction) to cancel events with 1,000 or more people yesterday morning, we immediately informed the NBA and NHL of that announcement, and we strongly advocated for permission to hold games at our arena without fans. But a recommendation from the city health department was not a mandate or ban and the leagues decided to continue as planned. It wasn’t until later that it became clear that the seasons would be suspended.
Our internal team at Monumental has been conducting nearly daily calls for the past two weeks reviewing everything from our internal staff protocols on remote work, healthcare options, installing additional hand sanitizing stations in our building, posting signage about healthy habits and conducting extra cleanings. Our communications protocols have been robust internally; and externally we have shared as much as we have been able given that we as the franchise must allow our leagues to take the lead on all such communications.
As we have been, we will be following the protocols as laid out by the leagues for which we play – including the NHL, NBA, NBA G League and WNBA – and will continue to work in close consultation with our local city officials.
We will provide additional information as we learn more on this evolving issue. We appreciate your understanding and continued support!
Please stay safe and take care of each other.