An indoor-football expansion franchise brought Ted Leonsis to Baltimore on Wednesday, and questions about the return of his two biggest teams to the city followed.
Leonsis, the majority owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, last brought a team up Interstate 95 for a preseason game two years ago. The Wizards faced the New Orleans Pelicans before the 2014-15 season at what is now Royal Farms Arena for the second annual Baltimore Classic. The previous season, the Wizards and New York Knicks played before an announced sellout crowd, drawn by the return of Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony (Towson Catholic).
The Capitals last played in Baltimore in 2013, against the Boston Bruins. After an announced sellout crowd of 11,082 came out for a September 2011 preseason game, attendance dropped to to 7,634 two years later. Players also complained about the ice. "You can't hold the puck, you can't shoot it and you're afraid to go to the boards because it's too dangerous out there," star Alex Ovechkin told The Washington Post.
The same opportunities and issues remain, Leonsis told The Baltimore Sun.
"We'd love to bring another Wizards game here," he said. "That's easy to do, and we can implement that."
Yet while TV ratings for the Capitals in Baltimore are "very, very strong," Leonsis said, the infrastucture for another game in the city is not.
"Our players were fine, but there are quality issues, and so if the city would make an investment and make better ice, we would consider it," he said. "But right now, it's really, really difficult for us."