The DC Entertainment And Sports (EAS) Arena, which opened in September 22, 2018, gave me little thoughts it would be any more than a souped up high school gym. Yes I saw it featured such things as boxing and the DC Go-Go basketball team as well as live music entertainment, being that it opened east of the river I always had the hindsight that the DC Government only poured a little into that side just to please the few - - to say we are doing something for you. DC has long favored the western portions of the city, revitalizing much of downtown and rebuilding the 14thHstreet, Rhode Island avenue metro areas plus pouring multi billions in the friendship heights corridor.
I received my credentials to shoot the college holiday hoops basketball games and to my surprise it was more than I would imagine it to be. I can say it was like a mid level Capitol One arena. It best nearly all of the Washington Metropolitan area college gyms (I have not seen all of them so this is just an opinion piece). I was as a kid who received the perfect gift. For a sports photographer the lighting was excellent allowing me to easily use just a few camera settings to create images that matched the color tone of the arena (Photographers try to minimize how much time we need to spend adjusting each to match the arena actual lighting appearance).
I believe many would probably read this and say big deal, tell me something I do not know well my second surprise was the location. This arena was built on a parcel of the old Saint Elizabeth Hospital, possibly made famous for housing John Hinckley Jr. Yes the one who attempted to assassinate the late President Ronald Reagan. For a long time DC wrestled with what to do with this large parcel of land and it appears more than an eyesore for ages.
To me it was a surprising relief that Mayor Muriel Bowser pushed efforts to allocate the funding to build this arena as well as pushing to have it on this site. The Majority of “nice” ventures are built west of the (Anacostia) river and with her being the former ward 4 councilwomen it was believed that she would focus primarily on her former ward and west of it. This shows her belief that Washington DC consist of four equal quadrants, forsaken by at least two of her precedents mayors.
I was enlightened to be part of the media troupe to photograph the inaugural DC Holiday Hoops double-header college basketball festival. The first game featured the High Point Panthers versus the Richmond Spiders and the second Howard University Bison versus the Hampton University Pirates. The Spiders defeated the Panthers 74-59 while the Pirates narrowly beat the Bison’s 89-82.
In addition, the halftime show features some of DC’s finest youngest. It was very entertaining to watch these little guys battle it out up and down the court.
Kudos to the DC sports entertainment network for putting together this showcase at EAS arena