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The Mystics are ahead of most teams in the WNBA practice facility race, but the gap is narrowing

The Mystics being owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment may not be much of an advantage in the not-too-distant future as teams not owned by NBA owners begin to invest in practice facilities.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 12: Entrance area of the the brand-
The Mystics have one of the best practice facilities in the WNBA. But other teams like the Las Vegas Aces don’t have to share theirs.
Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images

When the MedStar Health Performance Center as well as the Entertainment and Sports Arena opened in 2018, Monumental Sports & Entertainment finally had a practice facility for the Washington Mystics, Wizards and Capital City Go-Go. It was, and still is a state of the art facility.

But let’s also be brutally honest. While the Mystics have their own dedicated space, that center wasn’t built for them, the facility at least was built for the Wizards first in mind. They were woefully behind in the NBA practice facility race for much of the 2000s.

Last month, Kevin Pelton of ESPN wrote a column about how WNBA teams are joining in the practice facility arms race to attract free agents, including teams that are not affiliated with an NBA team like the Mystics. For example, Alysha Clark, who played for the Mystics last season, decided to play for the Las Vegas Aces this season. One of the X-factors behind that decision was the Aces’ dedicated practice facility that they don’t share with their sibling team, the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL.

To be fair to the Mystics, it wasn’t like Clark’s departure was unexpected. They were trying to move in a younger direction and Brittney Sykes, her effective replacement, is doing just fine. Furthermore, in an ESPN breakdown of the WNBA’s practice facilities, the Mystics are rated to have one of the league’s best, because they practice and play games in the same building, something most teams can’t say. The Entertainment and Sports Arena is adjoined to the MedStar Health Performance Center.

Still, other non-NBA affiliated teams are stepping up their game to catch up to teams like the Mystics and Aces. The Seattle Storm, who have been owned by independent female ownership since 2009, will open a similar facility for the 2024 season. And other teams like the Chicago Sky and Atlanta Dream are also considering longer term solutions.

I’m happy to see that Monumental Sports & Entertainment has been able to provide the Mystics with some of the WNBA’s best facilities. But as the league matures, things will standardize across all teams and this advantage will narrow fast.