The St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA) will be an innovative venue, that is a state-of-the-art, new hybrid of NBA training facility coupled with a performance hall located at the St. Elizabeths East campus based in Washington D.C. The 118,000-square-foot center will house an arena with 4,200 seats for use as the home of the WNBA team, the Washington Mystics, and the Capital City Go-Go of the NBA Gatorade League, as well as the first-in-line Training Facility for the Washington Wizards of the NBA. It will also host community events, concerts and other sporting events. . This facility will provide a much-needed boost to on-going redevelopment in Ward 8, spur greater opportunities for residents, and help create more “pathways to the middle class” as part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s series of initiatives to create economic opportunity for District communities.
“I think this is one of the most unique facilities the way we are doing this” said Gregory O’Dell, president and chief executive of Events DC. “Nowhere else have we seen the two concepts combined. We’ve looked at a couple of training facilities and those training facilities were really done for one team and one entity.”
With the new design, Events DC attempts to distinguish between the private practice area and space for arena crowds. The side of the building near the training facility would have Wizards player and executive parking. The entrance for fans would traverse through two historic buildings on the St. Elizabeths campus, which are slated for redevelopment.
Through proposed selection of beautiful and sustainable materials, the physicality of the building will be compatible with the existing St. Elizabeths Campus while also identifying the Arena as a contemporary new urban landmark. On the St. Elizabeths campus, the practice venue would be surrounded by brick buildings from the late 1800s including a visual entry point beneath the roof above the main entrance.
The main exterior cladding material of large-scale brick toned metal panels communicates a strong connection to the existing St. Elizabeths historic red brick structures in a unique and visually compelling way. The design also brings many community-friendly elements; the cafe space, for example, will be accessible to the public realm — from both sidewalk and concourse axis points — so that the community may enjoy retail options even when the Arena is not hosting events. It is thanks to factors like these – practical modern design, BIM coordination, positive teamwork, cutting-edge technology solutions and diligent work, that truly make this project bigger than basketball.
“Building state-of the art practice facilities with luxury accommodations and advanced training equipment is in vogue in the NBA. (…) But none of the facilities on the books – save the one D.C. is planning for the Wizards in Southeast – aims to incorporate a separate concert and events arena as well” – Washington Post