The Capital Centre (later known as USAir Arena) was an indoor arena in the eastern United States, located in Landover, Maryland, a suburb east of Washington, D.C. Opened in late 1973, it was the primary home for the Washington Bullets of the National Basketball Association and the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League. The Bullets moved to the Washington area from nearby Baltimore, and the Capitals were an expansion team in the arena's second year. The seating capacity was 18,756 for basketball and 18,130 for hockey.
In 1993, the air carrier USAir purchased the naming rights for the building and the arena became known as USAir Arena. When the airline went through its 1996 rebranding and became US Airways, the name of the arena changed as well.
In 1997, US Airways' naming rights deal came to an end after the now-Wizards and Capitals moved to the MCI Center in downtown Washington, and the arena once again became known as Capital Centre. Most TV and radio crews broadcasting from the venue referred to it by its nickname "Cap Centre". The venue was demolished in December 2002, though its name lives on in a shopping complex located on the former site of the arena as The Boulevard at the Capital Centre.
It was located just outside the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) at exit 16, less than a mile (1.6 km) southeast of FedExField, the home of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.
Capital Centre was the home of the Washington Bullets of the NBA from 1973 to 1997, the Washington Capitals of the NHL from 1974 to 1997 and the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team from 1980 to 1997. The Washington Wizards were known as the Bullets until 1997, and played the first 5 games of the 1997–98 NBA season at the old arena. All three teams departed for the MCI Center (now Verizon Center) just north of The Mall in D.C. when it opened on December 2, 1997.
The Capital Centre hosted its first NBA game exactly 24 years earlier (December 2, 1973) as the Capital Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics, 98–96. During November 1973, the Capital Bullets held their home games at nearby Cole Field House on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park.
The arena hosted games of the NBA Finals in 1975 when the Bullets played the Golden State Warriors and again in 1978 and 1979, both with Seattle SuperSonics. The Bullets won in 1978, but lost the other two series.
The ACC men's basketball tournament was held there in 1976, 1981, and 1987. The 1980 NBA All-Star Game and 1982 NHL All-Star Game were held there, as was the WWF's Survivor Series 1995. The arena also was home to a few epic NHL playoff games, including the Easter Epic in 1987.
The Washington/Maryland Commandos of the Arena Football League also called the arena home in 1987 and 1989. The Maryland Arrows, Washington Wave and Washington Power lacrosse teams used the arena, as did The Washington Warthogs professional indoor soccer team.
A boxing World Heavyweight Championship bout took place at the venue in 1976 with Jimmy Young challenging the champion Muhammad Ali. The fight on April 30 went the full 15 rounds and was awarded unanimously to Ali.
Footage of past Washington Bullets games held at the Capital Centre was used in the 1979 comedy film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
The first concert ever held at the Capital Centre was the Allman Brothers Band on December 4, 1973, two nights after the first Bullets' game. They were backed up by the James Montgomery Blues Band who played from 9 P.M. until midnight. The Allman Brothers played until 3:30 A.M.
The Who played there on two nights later on December 6. It was festival seating at the concert and there were no seats on the floor as the venue was newly opened and not finished. This was part of their debut of their rock opera Quadrophenia.
Elvis Presley performed for two shows there on Sunday June 27, 1976, to a total audience of nearly 38,000. Both shows sold out in one day. Ticket prices were $7.50, 10, and 12.50. His last concert at the Capital Centre was on May 22, 1977, during his second-to-last tour, which included 13 other venues. June 26, 1977 in Indianapolis, would be his final concert performance. His only other concert in the Washington, D.C., area was on September 27 and 28, 1974, at nearby University of Maryland's Cole Field House, also in Prince George's County.
The arena was home to several Toys for Tots concerts in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Frank Sinatra performed for four shows - April 24, 1974 (aud. 16,500), June 20, 1978 (17,000), May 8, 1987 (13,048), and March 31, 1988 (18,146), with Sammy Davis Jr on "Together Again" tour (Dean Martin left the tour shortly before the concert). The second joint concert with Davis (October 6, 1989) was canceled due to illness Davis.
The first two volumes of KISS' retrospective DVD series Kissology included bonus discs of late-1970s shows videotaped at the arena.
Chicago's performance recorded live at Capital Centre on June 24–26, 1975, was released in 2011's Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75. After releasing its eighth consecutive gold album in just six years, Chicago embarked upon a massive stadium tour in 1975 that is considered to be one of its finest.
Concert videos by Van Halen (a popular bootleg recorded on October 12, 1982) and Blue Öyster Cult on December 27, 1976 ("Live 1976" DVD) and on the Some Enchanted Evening Legacy Edition CD) from the arena have also been released.
The Eagles' performance from March 1977 was released in 2013's History of the Eagles.
Led Zeppelin sold out every show they ever booked there. The first concert took place on February 10, 1975; 2 years later in 1977, they sold out 4 dates: May 25, 26, 28, and 30.
AC/DC performed several concerts of their tours in the arena, such as: Let There Be Rock Tour (1977), If You Want Blood Tour (1979), Back in Black Tour (1980), For Those About to Rock Tour (1981), Flick of the Switch Tour (1983), Blow Up Your Video World Tour (1988) and The Razors Edge World Tour (1990). The shows of December 20–21, 1981 were filmed and several tracks from these shows are included in their DVD set, Plug Me In.
A recording of The New Barbarians' concert on May 5, 1979, during the band's only concert tour ever, was released as Buried Alive: Live in Maryland.
The Bee Gees performed two sold-out concerts here on September 24–25, 1979, as part of their Spirits Having Flown Tour.
The Rolling Stones played three sold-out shows at the arena on December 7–9, 1981, in support of "Tattoo You", the year's highest grossing tour, with tickets sales of $50 million. Their 1982 live album Still Life, included three songs taken from the Largo concerts: "Let Me Go" (December 8), "Twenty Flight Rock," and "Going to a Go-Go" (both December 9).
The cult video documentary short Heavy Metal Parking Lot was shot by Jeff Krulik and John Heyn on May 31, 1986, in the arena's parking lot, comically documenting thousands of heavy metal fans as they partied before a Judas Priest concert (with special guests Dokken). (The parking lot itself was divided into four sections, with patriotic emblems, to aid patrons in remembering where they parked after an event: Liberty Bell, Capitol, Eagle, and Stars and Stripes.)
The Grateful Dead recorded and released three shows performed at the arena; Dick's Picks Volume 20, on September 25, 1976, Terrapin Station (Limited Edition), on March 15, 1990, which took place on bass guitarist Phil Lesh's 50th birthday and Spring 1990, on March 16, 1990, the next night.
The Smashing Pumpkins played their last concert with late touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin at the arena.
Due to their overwhelming popularity in the African-American sections of Maryland and Washington, D.C., Parliament-Funkadelic headlined numerous sold out shows at the venue, mainly during the years 1976 to 1983.
Local Washington, D.C.-based go-go bands (such as Rare Essence, Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, and E.U.) performed annually at the "Back to School" concerts held at the Capital Center, including the Go Go Live at the Capital Centre concert in 1987.
Michael Jackson held four sold-out concerts at the Capital Centre in 1988 during the Bad tour. The dates were October 13, 17, 18, and 19, 1988.
The arena also hosted family-friendly events, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, Circus America, and Ice Capades, as well as numerous graduation ceremonies for high schools in Prince George's County.
The arena was imploded on December 15, 2002, to make way for The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, a town center-style shopping mall that opened in 2003.
Opened in late 1973, the Capital Centre was the first indoor arena to have a video replay screen on its center-hung scoreboard. The four-sided projection video screen was known as the "Telscreen" (or "Telescreen") and predated the Diamond Vision video screen at Dodger Stadium by seven years. It was also the first indoor arena to be built with luxury boxes, and a computerized turnstile system.
The Centre also had one of the NBA's most notorious fans, Robin Ficker, who for 12 seasons sat behind the visiting team's bench and heckled opposing players.
The Centre had the loudest speaker system in an arena at the time.