‘A potentially major shake-up’: Could the Capitals and Wizards teams move to Virginia?

WTOP's Luke Lukert gathered reaction from people who live in the area of the proposed entertainment and sports complex.

In a meeting Monday, Virginia lawmakers voted to approve a plan that could bring teams owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment from D.C. to a new complex in the state, multiple news sources have reported.

The deal was approved by 12 state lawmakers who make up the state’s Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission, according to The Washington Post — which first reported the story.

The plan would involve the Washington Wizards and Capitals teams moving from their home courts at the Capital One Arena in the Gallery Place neighborhood of D.C. to the Northern Virginia neighborhood of Potomac Yard.

The proposed 8-million-square-foot campus would include a stadium with facilities for both teams, a large underground parking lot, and a separate 3,000-seat concert venue, 7News’ Christian Flores told WTOP in an interview Monday night.

“I don’t think, and a lot of the people we’ve spoken to don’t think, that (the proposal) would have made it this far, and have made it to this specific commission of state lawmakers, if this was not something that Virginia and Monumental were both seriously considering and seriously putting resources and time and effort into,” Washington Post reporter Teo Armus told WTOP in an interview Monday afternoon.

The Washington Post's Teo Armus speaks with WTOP's Anne Kramer and Shawn Anderson

There are still many steps to be taken before the proposal is agreed upon. If the deal moves forward, additional approval from the state’s General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council would be needed. State lawmakers would also need to vote to form a stadium authority that would play a role in building the arena and collecting taxes, Armus said.

“I think this is going to be a big story over the next couple of months, given the number of approvals that will be required to make this happen,” Armus said.

If the plan is approved, it would be a major blow to D.C.’s already suffering downtown economy as city leaders have scrambled to put more security and resources around the arena’s neighborhood in Chinatown.

In March, Ted Leonsis, owner and CEO of Monumental Sports, said his company had hired 20% more off-duty D.C. police officers on game days over the last season so fans could enjoy themselves without needing to worry about their safety.

“This could be a potentially major shake-up in downtown D.C.,” Flores told WTOP. “The Capital One Arena … has long been credited with the revitalization in that part of D.C.”

7News' Christian Flores speaks with WTOP's Dimitri Sotis

Preliminary talks about the potential move started in June when representatives from Monumental began planning out the Alexandria site, while also bargaining with D.C. officials about the need to improve the arena. Monumental later asked D.C. officials for $600 million in public funding for a major renovation plan, according to The Washington Post.

“This could very well be a possibility of the Capitals, Wizards, Leonsis trying to have the two — D.C. and the state of Virginia — kind of compete with each other to see who’s going to offer a better deal for the teams,” Flores said.

In a statement provided to WTOP, the office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she and members of the D.C. Council have been working together to make a proposal to Monumental.

“Mayor Bowser and Chairman [Phil] Mendelson have worked together closely, and in lockstep, to put forward a strong proposal to Monumental Sports, and after several months of negotiations, we are committed to seeing this through as a vital component of DC’s comeback,” the statement read.

The proposed Alexandria arena would also be near Amazon’s new HQ2 development in the National Landing area and the newly-opened Potomac Yard Metro station. It is proposed to “generate $3.8 billion (in revenue) to the region as opposed to $800 million if this area’s developed as currently planned, without a stadium,” according to Flores.

In a statement provided to WTOP, a spokesperson with Monumental said the company’s commitment to serving the region is “unwavering and we look forward to sharing plans for future investments.”

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up