- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis still has six days of NHL suspension to serve, but part of his online world continues to thrive.

The team’s Web site (washingtoncaps.com) yesterday received the No.1 ranking among pro sports team sites in a qualitative study conducted by the University of Massachusetts and SportsBusiness Journal, an industry trade publication.

The Web sites polled — including every team in the NHL, NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer — were ranked for content, design and navigation, commerce and fan interactivity. The Caps’ site, one of Leonsis’ priorities since buying the club nearly five years ago, ranked no worse than 11th among the 131 total teams in each category, enabling the highest overall score.

The fans “have shown a tremendous interest in our site and given us important feedback on how to make the site more conducive to them,” said Sean Parker, the Caps’ manager of new media. “We have been very intent on making the Web site easy to access and as interactive as possible.”

The Washington Redskins, conversely, ranked 129th on the list, besting only MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids. Most startling among the Redskins’ relatively poor evaluation was a low mark for commerce considering owner Dan Snyder’s aggressive expansion of the team’s merchandising in traditional retail stores.

The Washington Wizards ranked 69th on the list. Major League Baseball, despite a uniformity in the design of each team site, had the highest overall score among the five leagues, primarily because of a deep level of exclusive content.

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