For Don’t Mute DC — an activist organization — and their partners in Alexandria, taking action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day meant rallying against a proposed new arena in Virginia that would take two of the District’s professional sports teams out of D.C.
While the rest of the region braced for a winter storm, the organization planned a demonstration outside of Capital One Arena Monday, protesting a proposed move by the owners of the Washington Capitals and Wizards to leave the Chinatown area for Potomac Yard in Alexandria.
“I go to the games, to events there, and I see all the people who work there, and the majority of them come from my community, and a lot of them, that’s like an additional stream of income,” said Ronald Moten, activist and co-founder of Don’t Mute DC. “That helps them survive in our city. Then, I understand the impact that is has on downtown D.C., where the revenues that come from that couple of the social programs that we have in our city.”
Alexandria residents against the move also attended the demonstration, calling on more people to contact their elected officials regarding the impacts the new arena would have on the community.
“The Caps and the Wizards should stay in the District of Columbia, and it benefits Washington to have them there,” said Andrew McDonald, former vice mayor of Alexandria and founding member of Coalition to Stop the Arena at Potomac Yard.
“It benefits all the small businesses in the community to have them there and that we shouldn’t be poaching them, so to speak,” McDonald said. “And putting them in Virginia, where the location is simply…awful.”
In a recent letter, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said if residents want to see lower residential tax rates, they should consider the move.
In an interview with WTOP, Wilson said, “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.”
He called the move an “exciting opportunity for our community,” but 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.
The City of Alexandria is also asking residents to give them feedback on the new proposed plan to bring the Washington Capitals and the Wizards to their backyard at a series of public meetings.
WTOP’s Scott Gelman and Jenna Romaine contributed to this report.