Here’s what labor unions are asking for in the Alexandria arena plan

Virginia Diamond, head of the Northern Virginia AFL-CIO, said the plan to build a new sports arena in Alexandria does not come with the promise of good jobs.(WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

The absence of a “project labor agreement” is at the center of opposition from influential labor groups in Northern Virginia who have been speaking out against the plan to build a new arena in Alexandria for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

Such an agreement “would require that there would be good pay with benefits and health care” for those who work on construction at the site, according to Virginia Diamond, president of the Northern Virginia AFL-CIO.

“It does not come with the promise of good jobs,” Diamond said about the arena plan. “Unfortunately, labor is not able to support this project.”

Diamond said talks have broken down with the real estate developer JBG Smith on possibly getting a project labor agreement approved.

An agreement would include opportunities for minority-owned contractors and small businesses to participate and would require hiring of people from local disadvantaged communities, Diamond said.

“We’re disappointed, frankly, that we haven’t been able to see a labor agreement come together,” said Evan Regan-Levine, the chief strategy officer for JBG Smith.

Regan-Levine said the deal was not dead and that negotiations would continue.

“We’ve been earnestly at the table working in good faith,” Regan-Levine said. “We think there’s a productive solution here so we’re still open to those conversations.”

Where the arena bill stands with Va. legislators

State lawmakers in Richmond are still considering a bill that would pave the way for the arena project. It passed in the House of Delegates but has moved into the Senate, where its future is more uncertain.

The bill would create a sports and entertainment authority that would own the land in Alexandria and lease it to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Capitals and Wizards. It would have the ability to fund much of the project by issuing bonds.

While no upfront state taxpayer dollars would go toward the project, the terms of the agreement would divert new tax revenues from the project to pay down the bonds.

The broad outline of the proposal calls for Monumental to invest $403 million in the $2 billion development. Alexandria would put in $106 million toward the construction of the performing arts venue and the development of underground parking.

The rest of the approximately $1.5 billion financing would be supported through the authority-issued bonds.

Those bonds would be repaid over time through rent paid by the team, parking fees, naming rights and new tax revenues generated by the development.

The whole site would include an arena, as well as a new Wizards practice facility, a separate performing arts center, a media studio, new hotels, a convention center, housing and shopping.

Even if the plan does pass in Virginia’s General Assembly, it would still ultimately need the green light from the Alexandria City Council.

“This is all a long, complicated process,” said Canek Aguirre, one of the city council members. “If it does pass in Richmond, we still have to go through our process here, which, at this point, we’re still looking at easily six to eight months of public engagement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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