Updated Mar 27, 2024 - News

Capitals and Wizards to stay in D.C. through 2050 under new deal

Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis (right) shakes hands with Mayor Muriel Bowser after signing an agreement on the court before a Washington Wizards game at Capital One Arena.

Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis shakes hands with Mayor Muriel Bowser after signing an agreement on the court before a Washington Wizards game at Capital One Arena Wednesday. Photo: Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards and Capitals will stay downtown at Capital One Arena through at least 2050 with a new $515 million investment from the city.

Why it matters: It's a dramatic turnaround after the teams' owner Ted Leonsis unveiled plans last December to build a sprawling entertainment district in Alexandria — only for the taxpayer-funded deal to stall in Virginia's Democratic-controlled legislature.

Driving the news: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, council members, and Leonsis announced the deal Wednesday evening.

  • "We are going to have a state-of-the-art urban arena," Bowser said.
  • The public investment — which the D.C. Council plans to vote on as soon as next Tuesday — along with about $300 million from Monumental will enable the construction of a new training facility on the top floor of the arena. The agreement will enable better seating for fans and public safety improvements to Chinatown, in addition to addressing some pet peeves of Leonsis, like street buskers outside.

Hours before, the mayor of Alexandria announced the city had "ended negotiations" for the Potomac Yard proposal. "We trusted this process and are disappointed in what occurred between the Governor and General Assembly."

  • Gov. Glenn Youngkin also lamented the fallout, saying in a statement that "Virginians deserve better."
  • Earlier Monday, Leonsis tweeted upbeat stats about attendance figures for concerts and sports games. "Each of these events brings the community together, supports thousands of jobs, and generates significant tax revenue for the city."

Catch up fast: As the Alexandria arena deal looked dead in the Virginia legislature, D.C.'s attorney general delivered another blow last week, warning the teams can't contractually leave downtown until 2047.

  • Through it all, Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council said a $500 million counteroffer to revamp Capital One Arena remained on the table for Leonsis.
  • "D.C. did everything right since December," Leonsis said, citing a renewed emphasis on downtown investments and the D.C. Council's passage of a sweeping public safety bill.

Flashback: Capital One Arena, then known as the MCI Center, opened in 1997 and transformed the Chinatown neighborhood.

  • Over the years, D.C. and Monumental have invested to improve the facility, including $70 million spent by Monumental in 2018 and 2019.
  • But Leonsis sought bigger improvements, including a new glassy entrance and seating that's closer to the action.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

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