The Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards would move to Alexandria in 2028 under a proposed deal that would create a huge sports and entertainment district at Potomac Yard, Monumental Sports & Entertainment said Wednesday.
“This Monumental visionary sports and entertainment development district will bring together entertainment sports and technology like nowhere in the world,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said at a news conference at the site, where he appeared with Monumental CEO Ted Leonsis and other officials.
“This once-in-a-generation historic development will be the best place to live, work, raise a family, and watch hockey and basketball also represents an extraordinary economic opportunity over the life of this project,” he said.
The $2 billion, 70-acre complex, which would sit behind the Potomac Yard shopping center and include its redevelopment, would feature a new campus for the headquarters for Monumental, an arena for the two teams, a state-of-the-art Monumental Sports Network media studio, the Wizards practice facility, a 6,000-seat performing arts venue, and an expanded esports facility. There would be new retail businesses, a conference center, and community gathering spaces.
Monumental said Virginia is already home to where the Capitals house their practice facility and where the company manages EagleBank Arena on the George Mason University campus in Fairfax.
The arena would anchor the 9-million-square-foot mixed-use development on a 12-acre site between the Metro entrance and the first phase of the Virginia Tech Innovation campus. JBG SMITH, which built Amazon’s second headquarters in nearby National Landing, will serve as the site’s master developer for about 55 acres surrounding the project.
The agreement for a public-private partnership to built the complex would require the approval of the Virginia General Assembly. The Alexandria City Council also would need to sign off on the plans. The public-private partnership would involve Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Virginia, Alexandria, and JBG SMITH.
Youngkin said the plan would generate 30,000 new jobs in the commonwealth.
JBG SMITH CEO Matt Kelly said the development will fuel more housing. “We will finally have the demand drivers in place to fuel the development of thousands of units of desperately needed new housing, new street retail, new office space, new hotels, and the tens of thousands of jobs and tax revenues that will come with them. This is not just about sports and entertainment. It is about technology, media, communications, academia and much, much more. It is about growth or decades into the future, and together we will bring that together.”
Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District, who worked closely with the Amazon project, supports the project.
“We’re thrilled that Potomac Yard, situated at the southern end of National Landing, is being advanced as the new home of the Wizards and Capitals as well as Monumental Sports. A stadium and concert venue in Potomac Yard surrounded by new mixed-use development that leverages the Metro station is a major win for the National Landing area, delivering long-sought after cultural and entertainment anchors while strengthening an already fast-transforming innovation corridor and community,” she said.
Leonsis said the area has the makings of what he called a “super community” with Metro next to the site and the airport and Potomac River nearby.
“Right here at the DMV, we have the opportunity to be one of the 10 most important communities on the planet. What defines a super community: Simple, that you have an international and functioning very busy airport, that you have access to public transportation, that you have technical infrastructure so that you can innovate and have an open platform for businesses, for academics, that you house great universities and research universities,” Leonsis said.
Leonis promised to provide world-class fan experiences “while continuously evolving our teams, deepening community ties, and solidifying our role as leaders at the forefront of sports and technology.”
He said he looked at the site from the prospective of what would be needed 30 years from now. “If all of this goes as planned, we will still be a big, big part of the entire DMV. That is our goal. That is our commitment — create jobs, pay taxes, hire people from Virginia Tech and George Mason. We want to leave much more than pay, and that is really the promise that my family and everyone in our community will continue to do,” Leonsis said.
As a small group protested the plans outside of the tent where the announcement was made, Leonsis also said he would focus on being a good neighbor. “I think that that’s an important part of our legacy to be very, very cognizant of what goes on in the community,” he said. “I think having that personal touch is vital to make sure that you are listening, that you’re hearing, that you’re empathetic and understand what is going on in the community.”
Reaction from Area Politicians
Work on the deal has been in the making for seven or eights months, according to Sen. Mark Warner.
“This is really going to be extraordinary. The idea that this entertainment-sports district will be located here in Alexandria, Virginia, will be that proverbial game-changer,” Warner said.
Warner, a former governor, said previous attempts to bring professional sports to Virginia haven’t been successful. He said one of the reasons he thinks the deal will go through is because of the the state’s and city’s fiscal stability. Both have AAA bond ratings.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who will not run for another term, credited Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, and City Manager Jim Parajon for their work on the deal.
He said Alexandria wants to welcome people to the city and be the place where people remember the experiences they’ve had.
“It is the experience of bringing your child to their first sporting events, or their first concert. To see in person someone doing something better than almost anyone else in the world, and doing it in front of a cheering crowd, there is nothing like it. And it is in this yard, this very yard that served 100 trains a day, that we will create those experiences for generations to come,” Wilson said, adding the redevelopment would pay for more housing, schools, transportation improvements, and educational opportunities.
Alexandria City Council member John Chapman says the way the deal is structured, the city would not have to put up money up front.
“I think it’s a great opportunity — a really great opportunity for the city for this particular part of town, Potomac Yard,” Chapman said. “I think there’s a lot of work to do. I am very optimistic and very excited.”
Chapman says calls the performance art space “so needed” in the city that wants to expands its arts.
“I look forward to hopefully some E gaming. I think that’s the next trend. We have a lot of young people that are very engaged online,” Chapman says. “Being able to show parents that kids playing video games actually is valuable, I think is key, as well. I think that’ll be really cool to be a part of this.”
Both Wilson and Chapman said the city would engage its residents and hear what concerns they have.
Virginia House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele L. Herring said, “This project has the potential to be a positive opportunity for our community, and that it can be a major economic boom that will bolster our local businesses, create jobs, and help address many funding concerns by broadening our commercial tax base.”
And Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey also weighed in on the project.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Arlington to continue to partner with Alexandria to fulfill our shared, long-term vision to transform National Landing into a highly connected, urban neighborhood that drives positive economic impacts for our communities, and it further cements our region among the world’s most innovative and dynamic places to live, play, and do business,” Dorsey said.
Future of Capital One Arena
While the Capitals and Wizards would move to Alexandria, Monumental said its goal would be to update DC’s Capital One Arena to be the future home of the Washington Mystics “allowing this championship-winning team to continue to grow the franchise and its fanbase,” the news release said.
Capital One Arena would still host music, comedy, cultural, family-friendly entertainment, and sports performances, Monumental said. Collegiate competitions, such as NCAA tournaments, could also be held there. Monumental said the change would allow it to “secure more family shows and accommodate annual bookings and mini-residencies that require long-term planning, which is currently not possible with the seasonal changes from the NBA and NHL’s game schedules.”
Leonsis, who has majority control of Capital One Arena, has invested over $200 million in the building, more than its original cost of $170 million. DC officials made a last-ditch effort to try to keep the Capitals and Wizards in the city, announcing a bill late Tuesday that would offer Monumental $500 million in public financing for the rehabilitation of the area around the arena and an extension of its ground lease. Monumental can still negotiate with DC under the teams of its deal with Virginia.
Monumental said its NBA’s G League, the Capital City Go-Go, would continue to practice and play at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in DC’s Ward 8.
Feature rendering courtesy JBG SMITH
For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine’s News newsletter.