DC Sports Teams Make a Move to the Suburbs

Two of Washington D.C.’s teams are likely leaving the city. Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis announced a proposal for a new arena complex and entertainment district in a press conference with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin Wednesday morning. The proposal, at an estimated $2 billion, would move both teams to the Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, a 30-minute drive outside of Washington, D.C.

According to the Washington Post, Virginia lawmakers already voted on Monday to approve the arena deal. The move would still need approval from the full General Assembly and local officials.

In terms of its effect on the city, the complex would “supercharge” economic development in an area of Virginia recently connected to D.C. by the metro. However, the Post notes that this could deal a “crushing blow” to the struggling D.C. downtown. A January 2023 investigation from the Post suggests that D.C. has yet to commercially recover from the pandemic. District officials were in talks with Leonsis’ company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, on renovating the Capitals’ and Wizards’ current Capital One Arena in an attempt to revitalize the surrounding area.

In a statement, Monumental Sports announced the plans to move through with the Potomac Yard development while still maintaining investment in Capital One Arena. Monumental intends to update the arena to be the future home of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics while using it to host collegiate sports and entertainment events. 

In November, the company asked D.C. for $600 million in public funding for renovations, representing the bulk of their $800 million plan. On Tuesday night, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced a bill offering Monumental $500 million of funding to renovate and modernize the 1997 arena. Monumental cannot move the Wizards or the Capitals to Virginia until 2027 under its current lease. The current plan would be to move the team in 2028. Leonsis has long complained about his current lease situation at Capital One Arena, which costs him $36 million annually. The Capitals and Wizards owner declined any opportunity for questions following the press conference.