In this final Washington Wizards prediction for 2024, I will address the issue of Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s planned campus in Virginia. And here it is.
Prediction: Political delays stall the process on Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s planned arena and campus. Because of them, the arena project gets delayed.
Major capital projects like the construction of a new sports arena often take longer than anticipated. And the final bill is often more than what is anticipated. But on top of all that, this new sports arena involves two sports teams, the Washington Wizards and Capitals, moving from D.C. proper to Alexandria, Va., a completely different state.
I’m not sure what the Capitals’ fanbase feeling about the news is overall. But Wizards fan sentiment — especially from fans in D.C. proper and eastern Maryland suburbs — is overwhelmingly negative.
It isn’t just D.C. and Maryland that are against Virginia having the Wizards and Capitals. Some NIMBY’s in Alexandria want to stop the arena too.
First, what is a “NIMBY?” It stands for “Not in my backyard.” The term defines someone who is against the development of various capital improvement projects, like schools, shopping centers, public transportation hubs and in this case, an entertainment district.
Mimi Montgomery of AXIOS DC wrote a post about residents in Alexandria City who are concerned at best, or against the arena at worst being built in their backyard. In the 1990s, Del Ray, one of the Alexandria neighborhoods next to Potomac Yard, was able to keep the team now known as the Washington Commanders out, which is why they now play in Landover, Md. … for now.
They would like to go 2-for-2 in that respect.
And the Va. General Assembly STILL has to pass a bill to get the bonds that would fund this project!
Some vocal neighbors wanting “Houses over Hockey” or “Biergartens over Basketball,” still probably won’t be enough to stop this arena from being built by itself. There are NIMBY’s everywhere. At least some of those Del Ray’ers are Wizards and Capitals fans, right?
The Va. General Assembly still has to pass bills for the bonds that would fund this project.
I anticipate that most politicians will do this if the vote happened today. But could some politicians from outside Northern Virginia be … persuaded … by lobbying firms looking to either keep the arena out of Alexandria … or to keep the teams in D.C.?
When you add it all up, I see a delay happening with this project.
This all creates the ingredients for a delay in a new arena opening by 2028 in Potomac Yard. I’m not willing to say that NIMBY’s, the D.C. government and some Wizards fans from D.C. and Maryland will be enough to stop Monumental Sports from moving the NBA and NHL teams altogether. But I can see stall tactics that could successfully give the NIMBY’s some relief now, while also giving D.C. more time to try to force negotiations to keep the Wizards and Capitals at Capital One Arena.
And perhaps there could be more unintended consequences from stalling the project.
It’s possible Monumental Sports may very well NOT want to negotiate keeping the Wizards and Capitals in D.C. under any circumstances. After all, it’s very unlikely that they can have a campus in D.C. like the site in Alexandria.
And then the Va. government may be thinking about what if NIMBY’s keep Monumental Sports away from Potomac Yard. They could be looking for Plan B sites as well. Could Fairfax or [GASP] Loudoun County be the next home of Monumental Sports & Entertainment? They’re on Metro lines, even if they’re far away from the District.
Or … maybe Maryland begins to consider trying to bring the Wizards and Capitals back to their state. The teams played in Prince George’s County for over 20 years before moving to Washington. That also could be enough to delay this project.
I think 2024 will be a very interesting and drama-filled year of local and state government trying to attract or keep two of Washington’s major sports teams. We are just at the very beginning of this process.
Do you see a delay happening with the arena project? Two weeks ago, I didn’t think there would. But now, I’m feeling that things could be different. Let us know in the comments below.