D.C. government nearing deal to build Wizards practice complex

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s hoop dreams may lie east of the river.

The D.C. government is nearing a deal to build a practice facility for the Washington Wizards in southeast Washington.

The $56 million complex also would serve as the home arena for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Both teams currently play and practice at Verizon Center downtown.

The board of Events DC voted on Monday to approve spending up to $32.5 million to build the facility. Events DC is the city’s quasi-public stadium authority. It would own the complex and lease it to Wizards and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis through his company, Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

The facility would be built on the east campus of St. Elizabeths, which was formerly the site of a mental hospital. The District government owns the land, which has long been slated for redevelopment.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says the facility would also include an entertainment complex that could bring sports, arts and cultural events to the campus.

Though the District would shoulder most of the cost, Bowser calls it a “good deal” that could spark development similar to what now surrounds Verizon Center and Nationals Park.

“Now, it’s Ward 8’s turn to have a significant city investment that will change the game for this campus,” she says.

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report.

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