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Washington’s Verizon Center to become Capital One Arena

The downtown home of the NBA's Wizards and NHL's Capitals is now called Capital One Arena.

Owner Ted Leonsis announced the change from Verizon Center on Wednesday, along with an investment of $40 million in the arena. Leonsis' Monumental Sports & Entertainment is not disclosing the financial terms or length of the new naming-rights agreement.

It goes into effect immediately, with new signage expected by the fall.

The 20,500-seat arena located in Washington's Chinatown neighborhood was built by late Wizards owner Abe Pollin and opened in in 1997. It was previously known as MCI Center before Verizon bought MCI in 2006.

Capital One founder, chairman and CEO Richard Fairbank is a minority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. A Monumental official said Fairbank recused himself from the negotiations.

The $40 million investment by Monumental is expected to include technological advancements.

In addition to the Wizards and Capitals, the arena hosts the WNBA's Mystics and Arena Football League's Valor -- all teams owned by Monumental -- and Georgetown University basketball. The multi-use facility holds an average of about 220 events each year, including concerts and shows.

FedEx has held the naming rights for the NFL Redskins' stadium since 1999. The Nationals hired a search firm last year to find a naming-rights partner for their stadium, which hasn't had one since it opened in 2008.

Capital One acquired naming rights to the field at the University of Maryland's on-campus football stadium in College Park after completing its purchase of Chevy Chase Bank in 2009.

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