Urban Exit: The Plan to Move the Capitals and Wizards

Capital One Arena in November 2023
Capital One Arena in November 2023
Matt Blitz, DCist/WAMU

A recent announcement about the potential move of the Washington Wizards and Capitals to Alexandria has sparked controversy among fans of the two sports teams and residents of Alexandria. This move could happen as soon as 2027, when the mortgage for Capital One Arena is paid off. The ownership group, Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), planned this behind closed doors with state legislators. The owner and majority stake holder of this group, Ted Leonsis, had previously expressed that the deal on Capital One Arena is one of the worst in professional sports.

Included in the plan is a new stadium for both teams to use, smaller performance venue, space for MSE offices, a Wizards practice facility and a parking lot. The estimated cost of the whole project is around $2.2 billion.

The building of a new stadium would increase activity and commerce in the area, both of which bring positives and negatives. It would grow business for shops and restaurants along with creating more to do in the area. One major downside would be the amount of traffic that would appear on game nights—the Wizards play about half of their regular season games at home from September through May.

One of the major conveniences is the new Potomac Yard Metro, which opened in May 2023. Having Metro access could decrease the possible traffic and promote the use of public transportation. However, there is a Metro stop less than a block away from their current stadium, Capital One Arena, allowing fans an alternative mode of transport to and from games.

Capital One Arena may still be used for college basketball games or plays and other events. However, the Chinatown neighborhood around the stadium has already been declining as multiple restaurants have closed, and the proposed stadium move will likely hurt the area further.

Alexandria City officials approved the shopping center in Potomac Yard for redevelopment ten years ago. The proposed stadium move could entice a developer to take on the remodeling of the Potomac Yard shopping center, a project which would likely include a new school, apartment buildings and offices.

The area where the stadium is slated to be built could have been used to build a new school. A new school would be beneficial to the city seeing as Alexandria City High School (ACHS) has been overcrowded for a period of time. ACHS has an enrollment of over 4,000 students according to a report from their website in March 2022.

ACHS is currently split into two campuses, King Street and Minnie Howard. Minnie Howard is where all ninth grade students are taught. The county has recognized the need for more space as they expect to be instructing over 5,000 students in 2025. Expansions and renovations of the Minnie Howard campus started in March 2022. The renovations will surely help but will only provide a short term solution.

If the plans go through and the Wizards and Capitals do end up switching stadiums, it will be a big change that the people of Potomac Yard will have to adjust to. The abandoning of Capital One Arena by MSE will greatly impact Chinatown, and downtown as a whole. Although nothing is completely set, the plan seems the most likely option for what will happen once the mortgage is paid on Capital One Arena.

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Brendan Schmitt
Brendan Schmitt, Reporter
Brendan Schmitt is a junior in his second year on The Sentry. He runs for our school’s cross country and track teams. He enjoys classes like physics and math. In his free time he enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends, relaxing and reading.

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