Virginia Gov. Youngkin talks possibility of tying Metro funding to new arena for Capitals, Wizards

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(AP/Steve Helber)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin responded Thursday to a demand from state Democratic leaders that putting more money toward Metro would need to be included in negotiations as Youngkin pushes for a new arena in Alexandria for the Capitals and Wizards.

Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell, the majority leader in Virginia’s Senate, said Wednesday that “making sure Metro is fully funded is a precondition before we have any kind of dialogue about the arena.”

“I am a huge fan of the Metro,” Youngkin said in an interview with WTOP. “I know that it will require some funding from the Commonwealth, and I’m committed to go there.”

Metro recently announced that it has a $750 million budget deficit, and it threatened to make major service cuts, including closing 10 stations that see the fewest riders.

Avoiding the cuts is possible, according to Metro General Manager Randy Clarke, but he said it would take Maryland, Virginia and D.C. bringing a combined $663 million in additional funding to the table.

Youngkin seemed open to the idea, but with conditions.

“We need a business plan for Metro,” said Youngkin. “They’ve got service levels that are mismatched and they’ve got overhead levels that far exceed any of their benchmarks.”

“The businessman in me just says, show me a plan that works, and then we’ll work on how to fund that plan, and I’m committed to do that.”

Youngkin said wide-reaching negotiations over the arena are underway.

“We’ve just started that process, listening to the community, engaging with both local and statewide elected leaders,” Youngkin said. “We can work through a world-class transportation plan for the area, and we’re committed to doing so.”

The Virginia General Assembly must sign off on the plan, which calls for the creation of a $2 billion development in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria that would include an arena, practice facility and a separate performing arts venue, all just miles from Capital One Arena, where the teams currently play in D.C.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Capitals and Wizards, has pledged to put $403 million up front.

Alexandria would commit $106 million up front for the performing arts venue and parking, pending city council approval.

Most of the rest of the $1.5 billion in funding would come in the form of bonds that would be issued by a stadium authority, a governmental entity that state lawmakers are being asked to create, which would own the land and buildings and lease them to Monumental.

“I’ve had a 30-year business career, and I’ve never seen anything like this from an opportunity standpoint,” said Youngkin.

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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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