Wizards find preseason home at Patriot Center

The Washington Wizards will hold preseason activities at the Patriot Center this fall.  

The Washington Wizards announced plans last week to relocate their annual training camp to George Mason University’s Patriot Center later this month.

Wizards fans will be able to witness the squad’s preseason action close to home thanks to the Patriot Center move. The team has spent the past six preseasons training at the Verizon Wireless Arena, home of the VCU Rams in Richmond, but new owner Ted Leonsis was ready to see his team move closer to its fan base.

“For me this is a privilege because I am a huge Wizards fan,” senior sport management major Erik Pineda said. “I think that after all that happened last year it’s great for the team to get back on the fans’ good side and to make new ones.”

Leonsis and the Wizards also announced plans to put a college-like spin on this years’ training camp to mesh into the Mason Nation atmosphere.

The preseason activities begin Sept. 28 with a Midnight Madness celebration, similar to the annual Mason Madness. The event will be free and open to the public, and will include player introductions, an open practice and giveaways. There will also be special incentives offered to Mason students. Patriot Center doors will open at 11 p.m. Sept. 27.

The team plans to change nearly the entire structure of its preseason action, creating a more interactive feel. The festivities at the Patriot Center will conclude Oct. 3, when the Wizards will host “FanFest” and an open scrimmage. Tip off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and both events are free of charge. Season ticket holders will also have the opportunity to meet John Wall and his fellow rookies following practice on Sept. 29 during a “Rookie Class” event.

“It’s really cool to have something like this on campus, especially with John Wall on the team,” junior sport management major Taylor Niehoff said. “They could have picked anywhere in the state so to have it here is pretty special.”

The Wizards under Leonsis have already made major changes to their lineup. The team struggled mightily a year ago, going a meager 26-56, finishing last in the Southeast Division. However, the team added Wall, the top overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, along with fellow rookie Trevor Booker from Clemson, and veterans Josh Howard from the Mavericks and Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls.

“I want to go to the practices to see how they’re going to fill the void in the middle, they really have no big guys,” senior sport management major and former high school basketball player Branson Real said. “I also want to see how practices are in the NBA compared to college and high school.”



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