Virginia lawmakers move to bring two professional sports teams to the commonwealth

(AP photo/Susan Walsh)

By Carolyn Fiddler

December 12, 2023

A group of 12 legislators from across the state voted early this week to approve a deal intended to lure the region’s professional basketball and hockey teams out of Washington, DC, to a new home in Virginia.

The deal, which still requires approval from the General Assembly and local government officials, would create a massive mixed-use entertainment development in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood that would be anchored by a sports arena intended to be the new home of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards.

According to accounts of multiple people with knowledge of the situation, the 12-member Major Employment and Investment Project Approval (MEI) Commission voted unanimously to green-light the plan.

If Alexandria officials and the General Assembly ultimately approve the plan and the Capitals and Wizards move to northern Virginia, the project would supercharge development in a part of the region newly accessible by Metro. According to someone briefed on the matter, the development would feature a basketball and hockey facility as part of a larger complex that would also include a “huge” underground parking structure and a mid-sized concert venue.

A northern Virginia lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said the proposed project would include an arena seating more than 20,000 for sports, arena concerts, and other entertainment, plus a separate venue for conventions, separated by a pedestrian plaza. The complex would also reportedly house offices for Monumental Sports & Entertainment and its regional sports TV network.

“It’s a major economic investment opportunity for the commonwealth, as well as for the city of Alexandria,” the anonymous legislator told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, estimating the investment at $2 billion.

Under a current agreement Caps’ and Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis has with the District of Columbia, the teams could relocate to Virginia as early as 2027.

Legislative sources, including some members of the MEI Commission, expect the proposal to be approved in this year’s General Assembly session, which kicks off on Jan. 10.

Virginia holds the distinction of being the largest state in the country that’s not home to a professional sports team.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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