Monumental Sports, the Ted Leonsis-led company that owns the Wizards, has formally announced a plan to move the team from D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia. The NHL’s Washington Capitals, which are also controlled by Monumental Sports, would be part of the move too.
Virginia state lawmakers voted on Monday to move forward with a proposal to build a new arena and “entertainment district” in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood, according to a report from The Washington Post. The plan still requires approval from the full General Assembly and local officials.
According to today’s announcement, the goal is to have the arena completed and the Wizards and Capitals moved in for 2028.
“We are committed to providing 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,” Leonsis said in a statement. “The opportunity to expand to this 70-acre site in Virginia, neighboring industry-leading innovators, and a great academic partner, would enable us to further our creativity and achieve next-generation, leading work – all while keeping our fans and the community at the forefront of everything we do.”
Monumental Sports’ announcement and the Washington Post’s reporting indicates that the Virginia plan will be a public-private partnership, with money coming from both Leonsis and local taxpayers.
As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes, Washington, D.C. city officials have been making an effort to keep the Wizards in the downtown Capital One Arena, where the Wizards and Capitals have played since 1997. Leonsis has been seeking $600MM in public funds to renovate the arena; on Monday, mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new bill offering Monumental Sports $500MM in financing for that project.
“This proposal represents our best and final offer and is the next step in partnering with Monumental Sports to breathe new life and vibrancy into the neighborhood and to keep the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals where they belong — in Washington, DC,” Bowser said, per Wojnarowski.
However, it sounds like that bill may be in vain, as Leonsis’ priority now is to move forward with the new entertainment district in Alexandria. The proposed complex would feature a new arena, a practice facility for the Wizards, Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s corporate headquarters, a media studio for Monumental Sports Network, a performing arts venue, and an expanded esports facility.
Assuming the Virginia plan proceeds without any snags, Leonsis’ goal is to update Capital One Arena to be a flexible arena that could host between 10,000 and 20,000 people and would continue to host concerts, sports, and other events — it would also become the home arena for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
As Wojnarowski writes, Leonsis’ teams have the ability to exit their lease with Capital One Arena in 2027. The Alexandria plan calls for a Virginia stadium authority to own the proposed complex and lease it to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, according to The Washington Post’s report, which says Monumental would have a lease in excess of 30 years.