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Arena fight: District pushes for $800 million Capital One Arena revitalization as teams eye relocation to Alexandria, VA

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says the District is introducing legislation to cover $500 million of an estimated $800 million renovation and reivtalization project for the Capital One Arena Downtown, as representatives of teams currently playing there were scheduled to attend a news conference to announce their plans to relocate to a new arena in Alexandria, VA.

The duelling positions between DC and the State of Virginia have created an uncertain dynamic about the fate of the buildings where the Washington Blizzards and Washington Capitals play, as they create the possibility for two significant multi-million dollar construction projects in the region.

“This proposal represents our best and final offer and is the next step in partnering with (the teams) to breathe new life into the neighbourhood and to keep the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals where they belong – in Washington, DC,” Muriel Bowser said in a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Scott Abraham of ABC affiliate 7NewsDC said Virginia lawmakers approved a plan Monday to build a sports and mixed-use campus. He said the Virginia general assembly and the city still have to approve the plan.

Team owner Ted Leonsis, reportedly was to attend a Dec. 13 news conference with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin in Alexandria to announce the planned move.

On Dec. 12, Bowser and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson unveiled legislation to support a complete renovation and modernization of the Capital One Arena. The legislation, which has unanimous support from the DC Council, outlines the District’s contribution of a half billion dollars to the modernization project to create an urban arena and solidifies Monumental Sports and Entertainment as an economic anchor of the Gallery Place-Chinatown entertainment district and a destination for District residents and visitors.

“Downtown DC is the District’s economic engine that provides revenue resources to support important programs in the city,” Bowser said in a statement.

“Mr. Leonsis and Monumental Sports have been critical partners in keeping our downtown thriving, especially after the pandemic. The modernization of the Capital One Arena will be an invaluable investment for continued success and our future prosperity.

The legislation that Mayor Bowser submitted to the Council outlines the parameters of the agreement, including receiving the authority to enter into a lease extension and provide financing of $500 million toward the $800 million renovation project over a period of three years beginning in 2024. City leaders have also committed to a swift and expedited review and approval process to meet current construction plans for the arena.

“We are committed to making the most strategic investments possible to keep the District on the best path forward and we view the revitalization of the Gallery Place-Chinatown community and the Capital One Arena as a lynchpin of that strategy,” said Chairman Phil Mendelson. “This project will fuel jobs, help local businesses, and serve as a top-tier destination for DC residents and visitors to the region.”

Since 1997, when Abe Pollin moved the arena from the suburbs to Downtown Washington, DC, Gallery Place-Chinatown, with Capital One Arena as its hub, has been the epicenter of sports and entertainment in the region. The neighborhood boasts existing onsite access to Metro and has long had transportation capacity to support the more than 80 sporting events held at the arena each year.

Partnering with Monumental Sports, the vision for a reimagined Gallery Place-Chinatown is to be DC’s top destination for global, national, regional, and local visitors alike. The ongoing development of the Downtown DC Action Plan will also identify how DC will leverage the unique amenities and location of Gallery Place-Chinatown to catalyze DC’s economic comeback.

The full legislation is attached.

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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