- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

The D.C. Council on Thursday voted to allow the city to sell $50 million worth of bonds to fund upgrades to the Verizon Center.

By a vote of 9 to 2, members approved a measure that would increase the tax on tickets and merchandise at the downtown arena from 5.75 percent to 10 percent, with the proceeds paying off the debt service on the bonds.

Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who built Verizon Center with his own money, said the funds were needed in order to maintain Verizon Center’s status as a premiere venue.

Council members said they supported the use of public funds to pay for the arena upgrades because Verizon Center has served as a catalyst for economic development in the area near Chinatown.

The bill passed by the council yesterday extends the ground lease of Verizon Center an additional 20 years, all but assuring the team will remain in the District until at least 2047.

“”We are very pleased that the City Council has approved the bill today that will provide funding for improvements to Verizon Center,” Pollin said. “From the day we broke ground on this facility, it has been a shining example of public/private partnership and today’s vote is another step to continue that partnership. This will enable us to continue to attract outstanding events to our Nation’s Capital.”

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