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Howard Community Reacts to Planned Wizards, Capitals’ Arena Move

Monumental Sports Proposed Arena. (Photo courtesy of JBG Smith)

Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) recently announced a new partnership with the state of Virginia and regional leaders with plans to relocate the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Washington Capitals and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Washington Wizards to Alexandria, Virginia, by 2028. 

Ted Leonsis – MSE’s founder, chairman, principal partner and CEO – disclosed in December 2023 that the company reached a framework of an agreement for a public-private partnership to create a world-class entertainment district in Alexandria at Potomac Yard, pending legislative approval and completion of definitive documents, according to MSE.

MSE’s Entertainment District would include MSE’s global headquarters, a Monumental Sports Network media studio, an expanded e-sports facility, a performing arts venue, the Washington Wizards’ practice facility and an arena for both the Washington Capitals and the Wizards.

“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, according to MSE. “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.” 

Bryce Parker, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Centreville, Virginia, expressed dissatisfaction with the expansion plan.

“I don’t like the idea of moving the Wizards and Capitals outside of D.C.,” Parker said. “You already have the football team outside of the city, and I think work should be done to bring and keep the city’s teams within the District.” 

Capital One Arena, the current home of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, will be the future home of Washington D.C.’s Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, the Washington Mystics. 

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MSE plans to upgrade the Capital One Arena, reflecting its increased investment in the Mystics. According to Statista, the Washington Mystics had one of the lowest attendance averages in the WNBA during the 2023 season, with 4,391 tickets sold.

Parker is skeptical about the effectiveness of moving the team and believes it won’t be sufficient for their exposure or benefit residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV). 

“I don’t think moving the Wizards out and the Mystics in will solely help the Mystics gain exposure. I think both teams should play in the Capital One Arena,” he told The Hilltop. 

The Mystics currently play and practice at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in the Ward 8 section of D.C. with the NBA’s G League team, Capital City Go-Go. Capital City Go-Go will continue to play in the arena.

“I don’t see this as a benefit to the DMV as a whole. It will make getting to games harder with airport traffic and moves teams further away from a location directly in the center of the region,” Parker said.

Washingtonian and Howard University alumna Carlita Bowman expressed difficulty enjoying D.C. as a native who has relocated and returned to the District. She also questions the impact of this new arena. 

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“There is no place to park, things are expensive, the crime rate is out of control and the city seems as though it is heavily populated,” Bowman said. “I don’t see how the new arena will improve the public school system. Maybe the teams should go to Virginia.”

Bowman also addressed the city’s changing demographics, proposing that “the white people who have moved into D.C. and boosted the cost of living could move to Virginia. That would open up some space for Black businesses to grow and improve. That is what I see as a Washingtonian who has moved away and returned, so let them move away.”

As of 2023, according to DC Health Matters, 40 percent of D.C. residents are white. In 2019, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education reported that the number of white adults in D.C. has continued to increase since 2000. 

Pie Chart of Washington D.C.’s Population by Race. (Photo courtesy of DC Health Matters)

William Bradley, a junior sociology major from Atlanta believes this project will disturb the D.C. community. 

“There are a lot of proud D.C. fans, and for something that has been an integral part of the city just to be gone and taken away is unfortunate. I know that people who love D.C. are going to miss it,” Bradley said.

According to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP), the AEDP will have weekly virtual listening sessions with its residents on Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning January 18. Their website includes a function enabling visitors to submit questions or concerns about the project.

Bradley suggested that companies like MSE should talk to D.C. locals before making these changes. 

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“Sports are a unifying force in our community, and we are working to build a lasting legacy over multiple generations and lift all of our neighbors towards a shared sense of prosperity,” Leonsis declared.

Monumental Sports Proposed Arena. (Photo courtesy of JBG Smith) 

Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady


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