‘This is monumental’: Capitals, Wizards owners partner up with Virginia for proposed arena, entertainment district in Alexandria

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The event, which could signal an imminent deal between Monumental Sports, which owns the team, and the state. The event will be held inside three tents at 3405 Potomac Avenue in Alexandria at 9 a.m

Monumental Sports, the organization that owns the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson have announced plans that could mean a relocation for both teams from the District to Potomac Yard.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he couldn’t be more excited to discuss the plans Wednesday morning inside three tents at 3405 Potomac Avenue in Alexandria alongside Monumental Sports majority owner Ted Leonis and representatives for the city and state planning boards.

“I am pleased to announce that right here, in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, we have a plan to release a brighter, more amazing future,” Youngkin said.

Monumental Sports said the state and organization would partner to create a new entertainment district campus that would include a “new Capitals and Wizards arena for the region and Monumental Sports’ new global business headquarters.”

“This would relocate the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards’ home arena to Virginia beginning in 2028, should the proposal become finalized,” Monumental Sports said.

Leonsis said that the plan will allow Alexandria to become a “supercommunity” akin to one of the ten most prominent cities on the planet.

“Our commitment will be to build really iconic, fan-centric businesses,” he said, adding that he wants Monumental Sports to collaborate based on its commitment to the DMV.

Expanding into Alexandria

The plan recently received support from Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson but has yet to be approved by the state’s General Assembly or city councilmembers, who were in attendance at Wednesday’s press conference.

Even so, Wilson said this project provided a chance to come back from the economic challenges of 2020 and the pandemic.

“It is a great morning to be an Alexandrian,” Wilson told visitors.

The 70-acre project, which includes a large Alexandria arena, underground parking and a separate 6,000-seat concert venue would be located near Amazon’s new HQ2 development in the National Landing area and the newly-opened Potomac Yard Metro station.

A rendering of the Entertainment District at Potomac Yards features a new Capitals and Wizards arena and Monumental Sports’ new global business headquarters.
(Courtesy JBG Smith)

Courtesy JBG Smith

A photo rendering of the Entertainment District at Potomac Yards includes a new Capitals and Wizards arena, a performing arts venue and an expanded esports facility.
(JBG Smith)

JBG Smith

A photo rendering of the Entertainment District at Potomac Yards includes a new Capitals and Wizards arena, a performing arts venue and an expanded esports facility.
(Courtesy JBG Smith)

Courtesy JBG Smith

A layout of the Potomac Yards project that includes a new arena for the Wizards and Capitals.
(Courtesy JBG Smith)

Courtesy JBG Smith

It will also sit adjacent to Virginia Tech’s new Innovation Campus in the Alexandria portion of National Landing.

“The Commonwealth will now be home to two professional sports teams, a new corporate headquarters, and over 30,000 new jobs – this is monumental,” Youngkin said in a statement.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said the institution is excited to see plans that bring Monumental to Potomac Yard.

“We believe in the great potential of this location, and are eager to welcome others who are passionate about this community and building an exciting and vibrant future together,” Sands said.

“A project this special will help the City realize our collective strategy and the vibrant vision for this neighborhood and for our city as a whole,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson in a press release Wednesday.

Alexandria officials said the city’s $2 billion dollar investment — paid partially in bonds issued by a newly proposed Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority — is expected to boost economic growth for the region, generating $12 billion of economic impact over the coming decades. Millions are expected to support affordable housing, housing assistance programs, transportation and education.

The city plans to begin “an extensive community engagement process, including a series of community meetings and workshops, which will kick off in early 2024.”

Monumental and the City of Alexandria said they will also contribute $56 million each to create the new performing arts venue and will not use existing taxes to support the project. There are no proposed tax increases for local residents.

“Throughout its history, Monumental Sports has undergone remarkable growth. And, with this public-private partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Alexandria and JBG SMITH, we anticipate an even more dynamic future,” Leonsis said. “We believe this expansion would enable us to uphold our commitment to building an exceptional experience for our fans, employees, and partners.”

Challenges to the Potomac Yard move

This move to Virginia isn’t set in stone, however.

Gerren Price, president and CEO of DowntownDC Business Improvement District, said Tuesday that getting approval from the state and city could prove difficult.

“We recognize that Monumental must consider offers from other jurisdictions in order to make the best possible business decision for their operations, but we strongly believe that keeping these teams in the city will yield the highest regular attendance of any site in the region,” Price said.

Additionally, Alexandria residents have yet to get the chance to voice support or disapproval for the multi-billion dollar investment, which could shift traffic patterns and cost of living by the potential 2028 transition.

Majority Leader Elect Delegate Charniele Herring, who represents the city in the state’s general assembly, said that this project is not yet complete and that voices in and around the community still need to be heard so that the most vulnerable in the community are not impacted.

“More importantly, I am encouraged that the conversations have taken place not only about the project being a valuable economic engine for us but also about prioritizing our values as a community in its building and its implementation,” Herring said.

Herring said she has also been looking for bipartisan legislation that is considerate of the Alexandria community’s needs.

“We must ensure that plans that are baked and do a deal that updates our transportation and infrastructure,” she said, adding that it is “necessary for the success of this project.”

Sen. Mark Warner, one of those Alexandria residents present at the press conference Wednesday, said that this deal structure was worthy of celebration, but similar deals have fallen apart before.

“This will be the time we bring professional sports to Virginia, but it won’t be the first time we’ve tried,” Warner said

He added that all parties will need to commit to hearing concerns and working toward doing what’s best for the broader community, which Leonsis said he is committed to.

“We will do the right things in the right way to all the communities that we serve,” Leonsis said.

What about Capital One Arena?

As for Capital One Arena, Monumental said, the goal is to continue investing in the arena and update the building into one that could host up to 20,000 people and continue to host events like concerts and collegiate competitions.

“Monumental envisions Capital One Arena as maintaining its position as a vital and vibrant point of connection in downtown D.C. Moreover, in the future, the Monumental team would be able to secure more family shows and accommodate annual bookings and mini-residencies that require long-term planning, which is currently not possible with the seasonal changes from the NBA and NHL’s game schedules,” the organization said.

The WNBA’s Washington Mystics, which are also owned by Monumental Sports, were not included in the proposal but could find their new home at Capital One Arena if this plan is put into effect.

“Monumental is excited about the potential opportunity to update Capital One Arena to be the future home of the Washington Mystics, increasing the company’s investment in the Mystics, creating a gameday experience tailored specifically for the Mystics, and allowing this championship-winning team to continue to grow the franchise and its fanbase,” the group said.

Monumental Sports said that, since majority owner Leonsis took ownership, he’s invested “over $200 million in the building – more than the original cost of $170 million to build the arena in 1997.”

“In the last five years alone, Monumental has invested or planned investments that total well over $125 million – and those green-lit investments will continue to be implemented, ensuring fans continue to receive a best-in-class experience at Capital One Arena,” Monumental Sports said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson made their “last and best offer” Tuesday evening after a plan was approved Monday by 12 state lawmakers on Virginia’s Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission. That deal is critical, according to Price with Downtown DC, for the long-term success of downtown D.C. and the entire city.

“Downtown DC is the District’s economic engine that provides revenue resources to support important programs in the city. Mr. Leonsis and Monumental Sports have been critical partners in keeping our downtown thriving, especially after the pandemic,” Bowser said in a news release. “The modernization of the Capital One Arena will be an invaluable investment for continued success and our future prosperity.”

More information about the project is available online.

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