Much like the divide when people root for rival sports teams, residents of Alexandria, Virginia, are split in their feelings about the possibility of two D.C. teams relocating to their area.
Virginia and Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced Wednesday that a proposed agreement was reached to move the Washington Wizards and Capitals from Capital One Arena in D.C. to Virginia.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our community,” Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson told WTOP.
The proposal would include constructing a $2 billion arena and surrounding entertainment complex in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.
“We have been working for decades to shape a different economic future for Potomac Yard and really use this property as an opportunity to diversify our revenues and build a stronger commercial tax base,” Wilson said. “And I think in a time where we are not building office buildings anymore, the way we diversify our tax base is by experiences, by the types of things that cannot be virtualized.”
The move would aim to bring more tourism, jobs and revenue to the city, not only through the new arena but to the surrounding businesses.
Some, like Alexandria resident Todd Levine, couldn’t be happier.
“I think it’s going to expand the fan base — a lot of the merchants, a lot of the pubs” will benefit, Levine told WTOP.
However, not all residents shared the same enthusiasm.
“It’s kind of a crime to think that with all the other issues in Alexandria right now, with lack of housing, and everything else, that we’re going to cut a tax break for a billionaire to come over and bring a basketball team,” Robert Shane, of Del Ray, told WTOP. “I think, at what it costs to the citizens here, both from a financial but also from a cultural and a livability standpoint. I just don’t see the benefits outweighing those costs.”
Other residents voiced concerns that the community of Alexandria would be negatively affected by the increased presence of people and traffic.
“[I’m] just not a fan,” Rebecca, of Del Ray, said. “I think it will increase traffic and be too hectic around this area. I think it’s better to just keep it in D.C.”
The sentiment was echoed by other locals.
“I’m worried about all the traffic it’s going to cause and how it will change the sort of environment of the community,” Diane Hice said. “Not so much like environmental issues, but more of the traffic and congestion.”
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In D.C., fans are equally split about the potential move.
“I have mixed thoughts. I really liked the Wizards being in D.C.,” said one fan.
Another fan from Silver Spring, Maryland, disagreed, adding that the new venue could give the teams a fresh start.
“The Alexandria area has a lot to offer. And I think that, in the long run, it will be for the best, but it’ll be a little bit of a tough pill to swallow,” he said.
One fan brought a handmade sign to the Wizards-Pelicans game Wednesday night, depicting a hand-drawn map of the District with the message: “DC is here.”
“We should be focusing on building a better team, not moving to Alexandria. I mean, this stadium here is not the best, but it works. I mean, it’s fine. I don’t think we need a multibillion dollar stadium,” he said.
The move to Virginia is not a done deal just yet. The agreement still needs to be approved by the Alexandria City Council and the Virginia General Assembly. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released a counterproposal Tuesday night in a bid to keep the teams in the District.
WTOP’s Scott Gelman, who reported from Alexandria, Virginia, and Dick Uliano, who reported from outside Capital One Arena in D.C., contributed to this report.