DC Armory Venue History

Military Exercises and Modern Extravaganzas

Over more than three-quarters of a century, the DC Armory has transformed from a military training center into one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s most versatile sports and entertainment venues. Each year, visitors from around the world gather under the District’s famed dome for events as diverse as conventions, circuses, concerts and sporting events. From housing the FBI’s fingerprint records during World War II to hosting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for more than 30 years, DC’s big top is full of surprises waiting for you to discover.

From National Guard to National Landmark: A History of the DC Armory

1941 - The DC Armory opened as the headquarters, armory and training facility for the DC National Guard. The 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena, designed by Architect Nathan C. Wyeth, boasts 70,000 square feet of drill floor space.

1949 - President Harry S. Truman held the first inaugural ball at the Armory. Since then, the venue has hosted inauguration balls for every administration from President John F. Kennedy to President Barack Obama.

2006 - DC Rollergirls, a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, made the Armory home for their four hometown teams.

2009 – The first-ever Longest Yard Congressional Football Game is played at the DC Armory. The gridiron showdown between the bipartisan team of congress members and the athletic Capitol Police flag football squad benefits the Capitol Police Foundation and the Washington Literary Council.

2011 - The Tiësto‘s Club Life Tour plays to a sold-out crowd of 10,000 electronic dance, trance and house music fans.

2012 -  DC just does it, hosting the NIKE World Basketball Festival. The multi-day celebration of the performance and culture of the game included clinics and practices performed by the USA Men’s and Women’s Olympic Basketball teams for the military and the general public.

2013 -  On the National Day of Service, designated by President Barack Obama, nearly 10,000 volunteers flooded the DC Armory to pack care kits for U.S. Service Members, Wounded Warriors, Veterans and First Responders. Points of Light, Target and the Corporation for National and Community Service joined forces for the UNITE America Service Event on Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend.

2013 - Events DC brought championship boxing back to the nation's capital with the ESPN Friday Night Fights, featuring the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Welterweight Title fight between Lamont Peterson and Kendall Holt.

2014 – The Light Heavyweight World Championship bout between Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov took place at the DC Armory. The Showtime® Championship Boxing main event also aired live on the cable network.

2018 - Events DC and partner with Moonduck Studios host first-ever esports tournament, Captains Draft 4.0 at the historic DC Armory.  This tournament featured eight of the top Dota 2 teams from around the world, battling it out for $300,000 in prize money.

2019 - The DC Armory hosts the Project Giveback annual Thanksgiving food distribution as it celebrates 25 years of providing hot holiday meals to families across the D.C. region.