Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Washington Capitals, Wizards arena proposal highlights Gov. Youngkin’s divided Virginia government

By 37ci3 Feb13,2024

WASHINGTON — A proposal to move the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards from Washington has caused an uproar in the Virginia General Assembly.

State Sen. Louise Lucas, chairwoman of the state Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, said Saturday that Republican Gov. Glenn Young’s proposal to move sports teams from Washington, D.C. and to Alexandria, Virginia, is “not ready for prime time.”

On Monday, when his committee finished work on the bills sent to their counterparts in the House of Representatives for approval, and the Senate bill laying out a $2 billion plan to relocate the two teams was not one of them.

“This is what happens when the Executive Branch does not act in good faith and does not respect the Legislative Branch,” said Lucas, a Democrat. X said.

Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns a majority stake in Youngkin and the Wizards and the Capitals, said in December. announced his plans to create a multi-billion dollar entertainment district that will host two teams.

The Wizards and Capitals play at Capital One Arena, which also owns Washington Monumental. The plan needs approval from the Virginia Legislature as well as the Alexandria City Council.

Among Lucas’ concerns: financing the project. The proposal would use bonds backed by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Alexandria to finance a significant portion of the project. If the venture isn’t as successful as Youngkin and Leonsis hope, it could end up footing Virginia taxpayers with the bill.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Lucas told reporters in Richmond on Monday when asked if the deal was done.

Youngkin and Monumental Sports officials are still holding out hope. A version of the bill that passed the House would establish a “Virginia Stadium Authority” to oversee the Potomac Yard arena and entertainment district in Alexandria, just south of Reagan National Airport in the Washington suburbs. This bill overwhelmingly passed committee this week and will be brought up for a full House vote in the coming weeks.

“At the end of the day, the governor is confident the General Assembly will come together because this bill is good for the entire Commonwealth,” said Rob Damshen, Youngkin’s director of communications. “It creates 30,000 jobs and unlocks billions in new revenue that can be used to fund expanded tolls in Portsmouth, increased funding for I-81 and new money for education for rural and urban school districts across the Commonwealth.”

Youngkin, the former CEO of the Carlyle Group, is no stranger to making deals, but the proposal is the latest example of the reality he faces: having to work with Democrats who control both houses of the General Assembly.

As governor, Youngkin retains the ability to send bills to the General Assembly at any time during the mid-March recess session.

Monica Dixon, chief administrative officer and president of external affairs for Monumental Sports, is hopeful the Potomac Yards plan will pass.

“We’ve had healthy discussions with members of the General Assembly and Council in Alexandria, and we look forward to working with lawmakers in Richmond to provide them with all the information they need to feel comfortable about this deal,” Dixon said. “This project will have tremendous benefits for the city of Alexandria and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, including tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in revenue and economic impact.”

Across the Potomac, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser stepped up her public push to keep the teams in the district and proposed. The op-ed was published Friday in The Washington Post If Leonsis and Monumental leave the city, they will break their promise and lease.

“We intend to hold up our end of the bargain and enforce the lease agreements with Monumental, which require the Wizards and Capitals to play in the arena through 2047 and the Mystics through 2037 in Congress Heights,” he said. “If Monumental goes ahead and violates its lease, the short-term impact will be severe not only on the neighborhood, but on our entire city. But let me be clear: The city owns the land beneath Capital One Arena, and if Monumental breaks its lease, it will own the building.”

State Sen. Lucas shared a similar concern.

“If Monumental Sports reneges on their deal with DC, why do we believe they won’t do the same to us,” Lucas said. said X on Monday.

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By 37ci3

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