Apr 1, 2024 - News

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is trash-talking Richmond

Illustration of a basketball being thrown into a garbage can

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An unlikely villain seems to be emerging in the NoVa sports arena fallout narrative: us.

State of play: In a media tour touting the deal to keep the Washington Capitals and Wizards in D.C., billionaire (and Maryland resident) Ted Leonsis keeps trash-talking Richmond, of all things.

Why it matters: Leonsis seems to blame our city specifically for the failed deal to relocate the teams to Alexandria.

It's a deal collapse that many in the know attribute to the DMV-based team owner and Gov. Youngkin, a NoVa transplant, failing to negotiate with Sen. Louise Lucas, a powerful legislator out of Hampton Roads, per Axios D.C.'s Cuneyt Dil.

  • Leonsis didn't meet with Lucas, who had the power to make or break the deal, until March 8, months after it was initially announced.
  • When asked last week why he didn't lobby Lucas sooner, Leonsis told Dil: "It's not my job. I'm a businessman. I'm not a politician."

What he's saying: "I mean, it just doesn't feel world-class," Leonsis told Dil about politics in Richmond. "You don't treat big, important companies that way."

  • "Virginia's kind of two states," he said at a press conference the same day. "It's Richmond and Northern Virginia, and they need to, like, get together."

What we're saying: First of all, Virginia is not two states, at least from a Richmonder's perspective.

  • It's at least six: Richmond, NoVa, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Roanoke and whatever the hell is west of Roanoke.

Second of all, Leonsis is right that Richmond is not NoVa. Proudly. Aggressively proudly.

Third of all, and finally, if there's one thing anyone from NoVa or the DMV should know about Virginia — the whole of it — is that there are two parts you don't want to go up against in a street fight: Hampton Roads and Richmond.

  • And you, sir, have now pissed off both.
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