Long gone is The Greene Turtle on F Street inside the Capital One Arena. The space inside the home of the Wizards and Capitals now houses a sportsbook, where fans bet on games inside the arena and worldwide. The sportsbook is the first in the District and the first in the country to be housed in a sports venue. The pandemic delayed its original 2020 opening.
“This is the first step in the reinvention of the role that arenas play in the community, in the city,” said Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, May 26.
The D.C. hockey and basketball franchise owner spoke alongside business partners from William Hill, Caesars Entertainment, and his own Monumental Sports and Entertainment. William Hill is a part of Caesars, known for their Las Vegas Casinos.
Half eat, half play, the two-story, 18,000 square foot space is accessible from the street and from the stadium. There are upstairs and downstairs bars, and a new restaurant from chef Nicholas Stefanelli, known for Michelin-star restaurant Masseria. The restaurant is upstairs and seats 200. The lounge area holds 700. Outdoor seating is also available.
With 17 betting windows, 12 betting kiosks, and 100 TVs, including on the patio, showing games, scores and spreads, the emphasis is on the games. A scaled-down jumbotron hangs in the center and, next to it, there’s a broad staircase running between the two bars. The cash-only kiosks are very user-friendly.
The 20,000-seat arena hosts 230 events a year, bringing 3 million visitors through the turnstiles; but, owners hope the sportsbook will become a destination year round. They also hope to lead post-pandemic revitalization efforts, added sports broadcaster Michael Jenkins. The former NBC broadcaster now hosts “By the Books,” a sportsbook show associated with the space.
“Here in Washington, D.C.,” said Leonsis, “we want to be innovators, we wanted to lead the way in taking the stigma out of gambling.”
A native of Beltsville, Maryland, chef Stefanelli has seen the Verizon Center become the Capital One Arena, the Bullets become the Wizards, and the Capitals win the Stanley cup. Now, tasked with directing the menu, he has put some distance between previous occupants with dishes that recall either Sunday dinners or Sundays spent watching the game.
“The dishes are pieces of things that I grew up on,” says Stefanelli. “There’s comfort food, there’s that sports bar food you expect to see. We wanted to have a balance.”
The double dipped chicken wings refer to the takeout joint Stefanelli first worked at; and on Sundays, he foresees specials like a ragu with manicotti, inspired by his father.
The chef also brings the quality ingredients he’s known for, with meatballs from his Italian restaurant and market Officina and burgers made from dry-aged local beef.
“There’s going to be seasonality,” he says. “The menu will change and flow as the seasons come, too.”
On tap, find local brewers like DC Brau, Red Bear Brewing Co. and Beltway Brewing Company. There will be house cocktails like the Zamboni, an Old Fashioned riff with smoked Scotch maple syrup; and Call to the Bullpen, an adaptation of a Moscow mule, with rosewater. There are also several non-alcoholic options.
“There’s so much energy on this corner right now,” says Stefanelli. “It’s going to be interesting to see how this space organically takes on its own soul as the doors open up.”
William Hill Sportsbook DC: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.williamhill.com/us/dc
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.