Capitals, Wizards stay in DC after Virginia Arena deal falls through

WASHINGTON (AP) — The NBA's Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals Stayed in the District of Columbia A plan to lure teams to Virginia exploded and its franchise and city reached an agreement on a $515 million publicly funded stadium project.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and owner Ted Leonsis signed a letter of agreement Wednesday that will keep the teams in the district through 2050. They announced the development minutes later at a joint news conference at Capital One Arena.

“It's a great day, I'm very relieved,” Leonsis said.

The plan included a 200,000-square-foot (18,580 sq m) expansion of the arena complex at the nearby Gallery Place site, the creation of an entertainment district in the city's surrounding Chinatown neighborhood, and security and transportation improvements.

“We are the current home and the future home of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards,” Bowser said. “As Ted says, we're going to be together a long time.”

The District of Columbia Council will take up the agreement next week and is expected to pass it, Chairman Bill Mendelson said at a news conference.

The deal between Monument Sports and Recreation and the city came from officials in Alexandria across the Potomac, Virginia. He speaks for the new arena It would have moved teams that would have ended up there.

Leonsis admitted that Virginia had land because DC did not.

“You're in this arms race to build bigger and better and higher quality, and we're running out of space,” Leonsis said of the new recreation community, noting the deal isn't as big as 12 acres (4.9). ha) dedicated to the arena in Virginia. “But that's enough.”

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Leonsis, an ultrawealthy entrepreneur, said he generally prefers to avoid discussing Virginia, but took a few jabs at the state, where political divisions between Republican Gov. Glenn Young and the Democrats who control the General Assembly contributed to the plan's demise.

Growth hits Young Announced months ago He hailed the outlines of the Alexandria proposal as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

In a statement Wednesday, the governor expressed disappointment and frustration over the death of a program that he said would have created $12 billion in economic investment and blamed it on Democrats.

“This should have been our deal and our opportunity, and all the General Assembly had to do was say: 'Memorial, thank you for wanting to come to Virginia and create $12 billion in economic investment, let's do it.' But no, personal and political agendas drove the deal away, he said.

Democrats responded that Young had mismanaged the program. House Speaker Dan Scott said he was shocked by Young's statement, which he said sounded like it was written by a teenager.

“He's lost his sense of good judgment right now,” Scott said, adding that from the tone of the report, he expects Young may retaliate by vetoing the budget lawmakers sent him earlier this month.

Alexandria, which first broke the news, said in a statement on its website that it was disappointed with the result.

“We negotiated the framework for this opportunity in good faith and participated in the process in Richmond to protect our integrity,” the statement said. “We trusted the process, and we're disappointed in what happened between the governor and the General Assembly.”

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The Virginia plan called for the creation of a $2 billion development district in Alexandria's Potomac Yards area, which would include not only a new stadium but also a training facility and corporate headquarters for the memorial and a separate performing arts arena.

The General Assembly was asked to create a commission that would issue bonds to finance most of the projects, supported in part by city and state governments and repaid through a combination of projected tax revenues withdrawn from development.

Youngin and other supporters say the development would create tens of thousands of jobs, along with the new tax revenue needed to cover the financing.

But the plan met with resistance From labor unionsAlexandria residents worry about traffic and DC officials Destroyed the city of Washington.

Youngin and other supporters are the powerful Democratic Sen. Portsmouth, who chairs the Senate's budget-writing committee. L. Couldn't beat Lewis Lucas. He used that position to block the legislation, citing a variety of concerns, but the primary funding structure of the deal: The use of moral obligation bonds put taxpayers' and the state's finances at risk, Lucas said.

Lucas celebrated the passing of the proposal on Wednesday. On social media, he posted a cartoon of himself swatting a basketball with the word “rejected.” He wrote, “Today the Monument announces they are staying in Washington DC, and we celebrate in Virginia that we avoided the Monument disaster!”

Leonsis changed his tone on social media in recent days, pointing to huge crowds at Capital One Arena this month for everything from the Capitals and Wizards to ACC Tournament basketball and a Zach Bryant concert. Posted on Wednesday The monument expects more than 400,000 fans to pass through the turnstiles in March.

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Leonsis and Bowser began negotiations about keeping teams in the district shortly after Virginia made its offer.

“Until 10 minutes ago, I had never signed a piece of paper,” Leonsis told a news conference.


Rankin reported from Richmond, Virginia, and Barakat reported from Falls Church, Virginia.

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