Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Take on Ted's Take: An Inconvenient Health Code

By Finesse

One of our future favorite pastimes here at GTOG is going to be dissecting "Ted's Take," the blog run by Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.  Let's get a few disclaimers out of the way so as not to turn off the sizeable segment of our fan base that likes Leonsis.  First, if we were Caps fans we would like Leonsis.  He is accessible, passionate, and cares about the results in a way that is not just about the bottom line.  Second, he has made the Capitals relevant in a city where they never really have been relevant before.  Certainly some of that is due to Ovechkin's presence alone, but the Caps have marketed him to D.C. in a way that actually puts people in seats and eyes on the TV.  Third, he has helped turn the Capitals into a perennial contender to lose in the second round win the Stanley Cup (just joking, Caps fans).  That alone is a significant accomplishment and I don't mean that with any sense of sarcasm.

(end of disclaimer)

Leonsis has become the face of a fan base with an incredible inferiority and persecution complex.  His words and his actions, in many ways, fan the flames of this complex.  He complains about the officials.  He complains about media coverage of his team.  He complains about having too many opposing fans in his arena.  (I'd link to these things if I had time to look it up, but I don't, so you'll have to take my word for it).  He says his team has "arrived" in February of the regular season but then, after a disappointing playoff exit, chides a reporter who questions how next year's regular season could possibly matter.

To be clear again, Leonsis is actually a GREAT owner and is great to have in the NHL.  We mean that here at GTOG.  But, as he has proven so often in the past, he continues to play the victim while pretending to accept responsibility.

Last week ESPN came out with a fantastic report on the health code violations at sports arenas across the country and the Verizon Center in D.C., which Ted now owns, had 100% of vendors in violation of the local health codeHere was Ted's Take on the situation:

Most Deserved, But…

We get it. It is the summer. It is slow out there. ESPN did a massive report. We didn’t get good grades. We are what our record says we are. We need to improve. We need to be best in class. We are focused.
I do want to make a couple of comments. From what I have gleaned so far, the DC government is really tough on inspections. We get scheduled and unscheduled inspections. There is a description of the problem presented and then there is an immediate fix offered up. Aramark and Levy take this all very seriously, as do we. Any issues that were reported back in 2009 we have taken care of already, and now we as a new team are working to make sure we get zero citations ever again. That is our goal. It will be tough to achieve but we want to have huge aspirations.
And I am actually happy that the local DC health departments are so stringent and tough minded — as they should be. But as I look at some of the other reports from other cities, I do have to ask how standard these inspections are and how level the playing field is on an apples to apples basis. Be that as it may, it doesn’t matter. We are all dedicated to safety, security, cleanliness, efficiency, and your happiness and satisfaction.We will not be defensive. This is the business that we have chosen – and what job has PaintdrinkingPete chosen again? :-)
This is, to our mind, one of the most appallingly passive-aggressive "acceptances of responsibility" by any major business owner.  Ted states that, "we will not be defensive" but there are no less than 3 blatant examples where he is passing the buck.
  1. The title: "Most Deserved, But..."  But what?  It's either deserved or it isn't and here, clearly, it is deserved.  He is essentially saying that he is 100% at fault but he isn't.  It sounds like he is saying, "Yeah there is rat feces in our food, but hey!  It's in their food too!!"  Ted, your take doesn't add up.
  2. Ted is complaining about the standard required by the D.C. Code as opposed to what is required at other stadiums across the country.  In some ways, Ted has a point - just because his vendors are in 100% violaion doesn't mean that the Verizon Center is the dirtiest arena and it certainly could be that D.C. has stricter health codes than other cities.  But you know what?  YOUR ARENA IS IN D.C.  If you want the benefits and privileges that come with having an arena in the heart of a major city, then you have to accept the responsibilities that come along with it.  The D.C. location allows you to charge higher prices than in other about putting some of that money back in to cleanliness?
  3. Ted criticizes the fact that ESPN is even doing this report.  He apparently thinks this happened just because it is a slow time of year for sports news.  I think that the thousands of fans who buy food and drinks at the Verizon Center (I being one of them) would disagree with you about the newsworthiness of this story.  100% non-compliance with the local health code is a major story, even if it was reported on the eve of the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup.  Sorry, but cleanliness matters to people.  Well, most people.
Ted, you've done some great things as owner of the Caps and will likely do some great things for the Wizards as well.  But when something goes wrong, own it.  No buts about it.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. You don't have to make so many concessions about TL, we know he's one of the guys that everyone outside his fan base thinks is a joke. I'm sure he knows that, too.

    I just found your blog through Friday's links on tPb, look forward to reading more in the future.

  3. Just wanted to let you know that Ted actually just took over total control of Verizon. The Caps have been paying rent to play there so he didn't have a lot of control over the issues which have occurred in the past.

  4. tPB link as well-
    Glad to be here. Bookmarked.

    The guy is a look at me (but not too closely) kind of jerk. Ted owns what he owns, and why he owns it has little to do with the fans apart from the usual reason of separating them from their money, of which you can't begrudge him. He'd have you believe it's mostly about the fans as much as it is about him. I'm of the opinion that for Ted, it's all about, well, Ted.

    Apparently unaware(like most egomaniacs)that he's as transparent as Mario's swimming pool,
    there's something off-putting and snarky about him.
    Gentry in and amongst the common man?..Dan Rooney could pull it off. Probably because he wasn't trying to 'pull off' anything.
    Thankfully, Mario doesn't have a blog, doesn't feel the need to sit amongst the commoners and perhaps most importantly, doesn't quote a bad poet when his team loses a Stanley Cup playoff round.

  5. GTOG, do you think POTUS ate at the Verizon Center on Sunday?