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Bye-Bye, Washington: Proposal Would Move Wizards and Caps to Virginia

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, appearing this morning with Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, announced a plan that, if approved, would result in the two DC-based teams moving to a new arena in Alexandria, Va., in 2028.

The proposed move wouldn’t be far, as the crow flies, from the teams’ current arena — about six miles, to the opposite side of the Potomac River.

The plan will need to be approved by the Virginia General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council. It’s not yet clear how much taxpayer funding the proposal will require or if local community groups will organize against the proposed development, as is often the case for new sports stadium and arena projects.

Both teams previously played at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., so a move to Alexandria would mark the third different DC-region home for each club. In addition, the Wizards’ franchise history includes earlier incarnations as the Chicago Packers 1961–62), Chicago Zephyrs (1962–63), and Baltimore Bullets (1963–73).

Comments (36)

    I hate how this is being painted in the media as some sort of full blown re-lo. It’s right across the river. They’re closer to the center of DC than the Giants & Jets are to Manhattan. It’s right next to Reagan National. The media is acting like they’re moving to Richmond lol.

    Also backlash in Alexandria for dropping this on us. The governor is not popular either.

    I lived in the city of Alexandria from 2008-2019 and moved just outside city limits after that. This is going to cause SO MUCH outrage from people in the city and immediately surrounding areas. There may be a new metro station by the proposed cite, but the street infrastructure would be a disaster if the arena is built. Expansion is also limited to other new housing developments along the main road into the area, so things will be limited into what they can do.

    I’d love to be a 15 minute train ride to the arena, but the hassles on days around games and other events would be a total mess. My guess is they eventually decide to stay in DC with upgrades to the current arena.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Alexandria was a part of DC before, right? It’s already SO tight down in DC, and moving to Alexandria doesn’t really relieve that pressure of traffic and people.

    -Side note, my sweetheart and I LOVE visiting Old Town. Last year, we visited the area and I showed her the Hollensbury Spite House. I’m so fascinated by them and want to visit others in the US


    Arlington County and a parts of Alexandria were within the ten by ten mile square set aside for DC (including the proposed site), but DC never developed it and it was given back in 1847.

    That said, the location of Alexandria was settled prior to the War for Independence (1749). It was George Washington (who was given the power to choose the location of the new DC) who put Alexandria into the square. It should be mentioned that the square was chosen also to include Georgetown (established in 1751).

    Thanks for the tip, Marcus!
    I love to travel & visit historic areas and experience unique buildings and architecture. I have been to DC & Alexandria a few times but did not see this. Next trip for sure.
    There are a few spite houses in the Boston area you can add to your list l if you ever make your way north. The Skinny house in Boston and O’Reilly house in Cambridge are around10ft wide. Plus a couple of the crazier spite stories on the north shore: one built in Marblehead built to block a brother’s view of the ocean & another built in the middle of a marsh in Newburyport during a divorce settlement.

    I have live in the city of Alexandria and I am not enthusiastic about this plan at all.

    Left unsaid is Jack Kent Cooke tried to build a football stadium here in the 1990s and Alexandrians rejected it.

    It seems the current governor, a private equity executive, has found a way to subsidize another guy with public money.

    Precisely. How much money did Ted Leonsis make last year? Why is nobody publicizing this?

    OKC is a different animal. This is the only show in town, and surely voters there are familiar with exactly how/why they got their team in the first place and have no interest in losing it. Also: the Thunder are an exciting young team with a bright future.

    None of that applies to the DC situation.

    It’s a shame now that there are signs the football team may move back to DC from that hideous inaccessible monstrosity in the middle of nowhere that is FedEx field that the Caps and Wizards may move out of the city. I haven’t been to their current arena, but I understand that it did a lot to revitalize the neighborhood it’s in.

    Yes it did, but it is struggling a post-pandemic. It is still muxh better than 25 years ago, but Ted Leonsis doesn’t like buskers either. He has been complaining about owning the arena, situated above a Metro station with three lines and near three more, since he bought it. The only location better situated is Madison Sqaure Garden. He’s a fraud.

    It is amazing that just across the river from the Capital was the Confederate South. For those that don’t already know, really interesting history about Arlington National Cemetery.

    Well, the Virginia shore across from DC was in Confederate control only very briefly; for most of the Civil War, all the former bits of DC west of the Potomac were occupied by federal troops. One of my favorite local historical sites, close to the proposed new arena, is Fort Ward, a surviving and partially reconstructed fort that was part of the federal network of forts designed to protect the capital from any sudden Confederate attack. Which mostly worked, except for the one time a Confederate cavalry raiding party made to within four miles of the White House before being repulsed. Anyway, a National Park Service page about the Defense of Washington fort system:


    Interesting about that raid. Yeah, Arlington National Cemetery was Robert E. Lee’s place, so when the Union took it over they made it a burial ground for Union soldiers. I believe the Union General in charge of Arlington was a disciple of Lee, and also lost a son in the war. Lee’s wife loved her rose garden, so he decided to bury fallen Union soldiers there.

    Change all the team identities and nobody will care.

    Capital Wizards
    Capital Capitals
    Capital Commies (Redhawks, or whatever the name changes to)
    Capital Nationals.

    Similar to the Tampa teams who are all referred to Tampa Bay (Lightning, Rays, Bucs) to keep the fans in Clearwater and St. Pete placated.

    It’s across the river. Depending on where in You could walk there from certain neighborhoods in DC proper. Literally requires no name/identity change at all. It’s like the people who say the Giants/Jets should be New Jersey, or if someone said the Braves should be the Cobb County Braves just because they now play like, 50 feet over the border from Atlanta proper. Teams play in metro areas, they have for a very long time and it really doesn’t matter.

    I couldn’t have been the only one who initially read it as relocating to West Virginia haha.

    What’s wrong with the new arena they just moved into? Seriously asking, I don’t know the details.

    tldr; Greedy owner wants a new (free) toy and his own surrounding “entertainment district”, which is comical. VA was dumb enough to give it to him.

    Leaving the (mostly black) District for the (mostly non-black) burbs is bad enough. Taking money from a racist, homophobic, xenophobic governor in the process is the cherry on top. He also just got $65M from the city to build a practice facility in an impoverished part of the city just 5 years ago. That’ll be vacant now.

    Ted Leonsis just lost a longtime patron.

    On the civic name, Washington is in an unusual position, in that despite being commonly known as the Washington metropolitan area, there is no city called “Washington” at the core of the metropolitan area. The city around which the expansive suburbs sprawl is officially the District of Columbia. For generations, when residents are asked where they live or where they’re from, it’s been common for suburban residents to answer, “Washington,” and for city residents to say “DC” or “the District.” There used to be a city of Washington within the larger District of Columbia, alongside such other sub-cities as Georgetown and, briefly, Alexandria. But the city of Washington eventually became coterminous with the modern District, and when Congress granted home rule, the official name of the municipality was designated as the District of Columbia.

    So “Washington” is the name of the metro area, but not the name of any particular jurisdiction within the metro. As such, a team relocating from DC across the border to Maryland or across the river to Virginia is still a Washington team, even if it is no longer a DC team.

    I therefore don’t object to the Wizards still calling themselves a Washington team. But I will object to any Virginia-based team making prominent use of DC as a logo or important brand mark. Only teams that play within the city limits should use any DC marks, so the Nats and, hopefully soon, Commanders, can keep rock DC logos. The Wizards should retire the DC and design themselves a new W mark.

    The big hubbub is because:
    1. The current arena is not in bad shape, beloved, and arguably the most accessible venue in the country not named MSG
    2. Moving the arena basically kills the eastern half of D.C.’s downtown, which has been mightily struggling since Covid. Especially with no sign of a return to office for federal employees or anyone else on the horizon to mitigate, it’s a huge, huge setback for the District.
    3. Yes, the new location is hard to get to. No real highway connection, not at all walkable from D.C. like some said above—and by Metro, adds an extra 20–30 minutes’ travel time right at rush hour. Given the poor state of both franchises competitively, it’s a hard sell to the 50%+ of the fanbase that lives in Maryland and DC to make an even longer trek home from a late weeknight game.

    The Wizards, in particular, have been leaning into DC-specific identity in their recent uniforms—the three stars from the flag, lots of diamonds, that weird story about the boundary stones. I’ll be interested to see how that changes once they’re in Va.

    The team name won’t be changed, but I guarantee VA’s gonna ask that some part of their visual identity more closely reflects the state itself. The state’s wanted pro sports forever, but many don’t consider the DC Metro Area “Virginia”.

    It is somewhat odd that they’ll spend a couple of billion taxpayer dollars for a team called “Washington”.

    If the citizens of Alexandria do not like it (and I think there might be some influential politicians among them) this will not happen. The owner is not to be trusted anyway. Team owners never are to be trusted.

    How about the part where this is another new building. Their current arena is not that old, and much like the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves they are (potentially) moving already! Are these arenas being built this poorly? Is everything that disposable now?

    The current arena is fine and as many have said, probably the most public transit friendly arena other than MSG or Boston. It was renovated head to toe FIVE seasons ago. It’s hardly a crumbling, decrepit building. It’s not “showing it’s age” or anything. The location is as perfect and centrally located as possible. The game night environment (outside the arena) is lively. There have been some concerns about city crime, but that’d easily be fixed with more police presence.

    The owner wants “more space” and a more friendly leasing situation. Virginia’s desperate enough to give him all that for free, and he’s leaving.

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