- Richard Smith
Entertainment and Sports Arena – CAA Basketball Tournament
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Entertainment and Sports Arena St. Elizabeth’s East Campus 1100 Oak Drive SE Washington, DC 20032
Entertainment and Sports Arena website
Year Opened: 2018
The Colonial Takes Over The Capital
The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) is a very successful college basketball conference. A couple of former conference teams took the league into the spotlight of college basketball’s biggest stage. The George Mason Patriots’ appearance in the 2006 Final Four shocked many sports fans. When Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) did the same in 2011, the mid-major dam was broken (along with a great two-year run by Butler of the then-Horizon League).
The CAA has also had great success in other sports, especially football, where Delaware, James Madison, Richmond, and Villanova have won the Football Championship Subdivision in recent years, while Towson lost in the 2014 championship game. (Richmond and Villanova were football-only members of the conference at this time). Unfortunately, VCU, James Madison, and George Mason (and Richmond for basketball) have since left the CAA for the bigger waters of the Atlantic 10. There have also been a few additions to the conference recently.
Richmond had been the longtime location of the CAA Tournament but it has also been held in Baltimore, MD, and North Charleston, SC in recent years. The contract for DC is over after this season but as of now there has not been an announcement for later seasons.
The 4,200-seat Entertainment & Sports Arena sits on the former ground of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. There is a move to develop even more of the former hospital and area which should help the Congress Heights neighborhood.
The complex also includes practice facilities for the Wizards and Mystics and plays home to the Capital City Go-Go of the NBA G-League and the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.
Food & Beverage 4
There is a good standard selection of food, along with some local items such as crab cake sandwiches. Soda is all Pepsi products and a variety of beers are also available. Prices are fairly high.
The Entertainment & Sports Arena features chair-back seating on four sides of the floor, with one side being quite small. The bands will also take up seating during most tourney games.
There are two video boards, but no center-hanging scoreboard.
Being a pretty small arena makes the place seem smaller than it is, and crowd noise enhances the atmosphere.
The Congress Heights neighborhood is currently not one of the greatest areas of the city. The normal fan will not likely want to venture far off the beaten path in this area. The good news is that the area is developing and changes are occurring.
In even greater news you are in the Washington, D.C. area with many things to do. The number of attractions, museums, restaurants, and other sights is astounding. Spend some time pre or post-game seeing the many things around this great city. The African American History Museum, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, are great choices.
Tournaments will have varying fan bases, so it may change from game to game. But with a central location, there is a likelihood of good fan attendance. I still imagine the extremely-located schools, such as the College of Charleston and Northeastern, may have trouble filling the stands. Elon, Delaware, Towson, and William & Mary have some of the most vocal supporters.
The Entertainment & Sports Arena is located just off the Malcolm X Avenue exit of Highway 295. It is then a short drive to the arena area.
There is paid parking in the large garage behind the arena. Security and police are ever present to keep fans safe.
The Congress Heights Station of the Washington Metro is located a few yards away from the area and makes for an additional way to access the venue.
Return on Investment 3
Student tickets were available for a decent price and individual session tickets were also reasonable. Packages for the entire series ranged upwards from $80. Numerous Championship Hospitality Packages were available for varying prices, which could have also included the VIP section and food options. The prices seemed fair for what you get in return.
There is a souvenir stand that sells merchandise from all conference schools as well as general tournament gear.
There will likely be some vendors giving away swag in the concourse.
The arena is a unique urban arena that seems like it is assisting and transforming the entire section of the city. The tournament is a fun place to experience this transformation.