Ted Leonsis, the chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment which owns the Washington Capitals, has floated the idea of a relocation to Virginia for his NHL and NBA franchises since the summer. This morning at 9 a.m. it’s looking more and more like a possibility as Leonsis will join Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin at the site of the new arena.
But Washington, D.C. isn’t giving up or throwing in the towel quite yet. Led by Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelssohn proposed legislation that would support a complete renovation of Capital One Arena.
The city would contribute half a million to the project and is believed to be the city’s final offer to Monumental. The goal is to solidify 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. Mr. Leonsis and Monumental Sports have been critical partners in keeping our downtown thriving, especially after the pandemic. The modernization of Capital One Arena will be an invaluable investment for our continued success and our future prosperity. This proposal represents our best and final offer and is the next step in partnering with Monumental Sports to breath new life and vibrancy into the neighborhood and to keep the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals where they belong… in Washington D.C.”"
The legislation includes 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. They are working on a swift and expedited review and approval process to meet current construction plans for the arena.
Chairman Phil Mendelson added:
“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. This project will fuel jobs, help local businesses, and serve as a top tier destination for DC residents and visitors to the region.”
This puts Leonsis in a big spot. The ball is in his court. Will this press conference be his final decision on the matter? Or did DC just buy themselves more time?