Why The Wizards And Capitals Arena Project In Virginia Went Up In Smoke

Written By Cole Rush on March 28, 2024
Ted Leonsis Announced Wizards Capitals Arena Not Coming To VA

A number of key stakeholders put the kibosh on a plan to combine a Washington Wizards and Capitals arena with a Tysons Casino. The idea was brought up by Senate Majority Leader Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), along with two private sector stakeholders.

Surovell admitted the idea was in the “conceptual” stage and told the Washington Post: “Monumental was not a fan, and that was the end of the conversation.”

While Governor Glenn Youngkin hoped to garner support to bring the economic-generating arena to Alexandria, the plan hit roadblocks in the General Assembly. A proposal for a casino in Tysons Corner also failed to advance, tabled for next year’s legislative session.

Surovell’s idea was to revive hope for both in a package deal that would have gambling revenue, rather than taxpayer dollars, guarantee the area bonds.

But the idea drew criticism and rubbed many folks the wrong way. In the wake of the ill-fated arena-casino idea, all negotiations now appear to be off for the Potomac Yard entertainment district and arena project.

Capitals and Wizards arena and entertainment deal up in smoke

Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Ted Leonsis-headed parent company that owns the teams, had been in negotiations with Alexandria to construct a multi-faceted complex in the city that would host both teams.

The projected $2 billion complex would have featured an arena and state-of-the-art facilities for the Wizards and the Capitals.

At a Wednesday press conference, Leonsis announced that his teams would stay in the D.C. region through 2050.

On Wednesday, Mayor Justin Wilson of the city of Alexandria issued a statement saying, “The City of Alexandria has ended negotiations related to the Potomac Yard Entertainment District opportunity and the proposal will not move forward.” He added:

“We are disappointed negotiations did not result in a proposal that protected our financial interests and respected these community values.”

Governor Glenn Youngkin followed with a statement that pointed the finger at legislators.

“Virginians deserve better. A one-of-a-kind project bringing world-class athletes and entertainment, creating 30,000 jobs and $12 billion in economic activity just went up in smoke. This transformational project would have driven investment to every corner of the Commonwealth. This should have been our deal and our opportunity, all the General Assembly had to do was say: ‘Thank you, Monumental, for wanting to come to Virginia and create $12 billion of economic investment, let’s work it out.’”

Youngkin went on to say personal and political agendas mucked up the opportunity, resulting in a big loss for Virginia.

What Happens Now?

Virginia’s loss is Washington D.C.’s gain. The Wizards and Capitals now plan to stay in the district for 25+ years through 2050. Leonsis and the D.C. Council collaborated on a plan for the teams, including a $515 million “neighborhood redevelopment project,” as reported by the Washington Times.

Photo by AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough
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Cole Rush

Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. Most of those words can be found at gambling publications such as iGaming Business, Gaming Today, Bonus.com, MidwestSharp.com, ICE 365, and IGB North America. Cole also covers pop culture and books for Tor.com and TheQuillToLive.com. Cole has more than 9 years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

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