Virginia governor entices Washington teams with $2 billion arena plan
By Jake Beardslee · December 13, 2023
- Virginia governor reached preliminary deal to move Washington Wizards and Capitals to new $2 billion arena complex
- Project would include arena, team facilities, hotels, shops - part of large mixed-use development
- To help fund, governor wants to create state entity to issue bonds repaid by project taxes
- DC mayor countered with $500 million renovation of teams' current arena to try to keep them
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, to move those teams from Washington, D.C. to a new $2 billion sports and entertainment location in northern Virginia, according to an interview Youngkin gave to the Associated Press.
The proposal calls for constructing a sports and entertainment district just south of Alexandria that would include not only an arena for the basketball and hockey teams but also a Wizards practice facility, a performing arts center, a media studio, hotels, a convention center, housing, shopping, and more. Youngkin stated that “The Commonwealth will now be home to two professional sports teams, a new corporate headquarters, and over 30,000 new jobs – this is monumental.”
To help pay for the project, Youngkin plans to ask the Virginia legislature in 2024 to establish a public Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority that could issue bonds, which would be repaid in part by tax revenues from the development. Talks between Youngkin and Monumental CEO Ted Leonsis about a potential relocation began over the summer.
Leonsis commented that “The opportunity to expand to this 70-acre site in Virginia, neighboring industry-leading innovators, and a great academic partner, would enable us to further our creativity and achieve next-generation, leading work — all while keeping our fans and the community at the forefront of everything we do.”
In response, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put forward a counterproposal to keep the teams, calling for $500 million to modernize the teams’ current home arena, Capital One Arena. Bowser stated, “This proposal represents our best and final offer and is the next step in partnering with Monumental Sports to breathe new life and vibrancy into the neighborhood and to keep the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals where they belong – in Washington, DC.”