NATIONAL NEWS

Top Virginia Senate negotiator vows to keep Alexandria arena out of the budget

Mar 6, 2024, 7:34 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A top Democratic Virginia lawmaker vowed Wednesday to keep language enabling a proposed relocation by the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals to Alexandria out of the state budget lawmakers will take up later this week.

Sen. L. Louise Lucas, who chairs the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and is the top negotiator for her chamber in pending budget talks, reiterated her opposition to the project in an interview and said it could not make it into the spending plan without her support.

“Based on the information I have, it’s just not a good deal for the Commonwealth,” she said. “And I’m just not yielding.”

The development does not necessarily mean the end of the road for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s plan to lure the teams across the Potomac River with a $2 billion development district featuring a new arena. But barring some turnabout, it deals yet another blow for the proposal, one of the governor’s top priorities.

The budget was the last remaining vehicle for the necessary legislation after Lucas effectively killed other standalone versions earlier this session by refusing to grant them a hearing.

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, said the governor would have more to say on the subject Thursday morning.

Representatives for the teams’ parent company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, had no immediate comment.

Del. Luke Torian, Lucas’ counterpart in the House of Delegates, did not respond to a phone call or text message seeking comment.

Youngkin and entrepreneur Ted Leonsis, the CEO of Monumental, announced in December that they had reached an understanding on a deal to relocate the Capitals and Wizards.

The plan calls for the creation of a $2 billion development, partly financed by public money, in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria that would include an arena, practice facility and corporate headquarters for Monumental, plus a separate performing arts venue, all just miles from Capital One Arena, where the teams currently play in Washington.

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Top Virginia Senate negotiator vows to keep Alexandria arena out of the budget