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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Capitals’ and Wizards’ Move to Virginia Appears Dead in State House Budget

  • Virginia’s Senate is poised to omit funds for a new multipurpose arena in Alexandria from its budget Thursday, effectively blocking the best shot the teams had at moving out of D.C.
  • The planned move has drawn backlash since its December announcement and now puts team owner Ted Leonsis at a crossroads. 
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Plans to move the Washington Capitals and Wizards to Virginia appear to be on hold. Or at least, according to one meme, six feet under. 

Virginia’s Senate plans to remove plans for a new multipurpose arena in Alexandria, Va., from the state budget, which would prevent the teams from moving across the Potomac River. 

State Sen. L. Louise Lucas told The Washington Post on Wednesday night the arena language will not be in the budget when it’s released around midday Thursday. She also tweeted a Photoshopped depiction of herself flashing a peace sign over a grave with a headstone reading “Youngkin and Leonsis’ $5 billion arena,” a reference to Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin, who had supported the proposed move, and Monumental Sports head Ted Leonsis, who owns both the Capitals and Wizards.

The plans to move both teams out of the nation’s capital have been met with controversy and backlash. Leonsis and Youngkin never consulted the state’s lawmakers before agreeing in December to the move, backed by a proposed $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed bonds. Lucas, though, has opposed the move, despite any supposed economic impact that a new arena and entertainment complex could bring to the state. Among her complaints: subsidizing a billionaire. But Lucas, who chairs the state’s finance committee, also said that had Youngkin entertained more Democratic priorities, such as legalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage, she might have come around on the proposal. 

With the move seemingly dead, the ball is in Leonsis’s court. D.C. leaders have a standing offer of $500 million in renovations to his teams’ current home, Capital One Arena, though that’s roughly $100 million short of what Leonsis originally asked for. The city has also put together a task force to contemplate the arena’s future should the team move.

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