A Virginia state senator does not want Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis to use taxpayer money to build a new entertainment district in the suburb of Alexandria, Va.
Sen. Louise Lucas, a Democrat who is the chairwoman of Virginia’s senate finance committee, told reporters Monday a bill that would pave the way to move the NBA and NHL franchises from Washington to Alexandria is dead in her eyes.
“I will not allow a billionaire to build his company’s wealth on a taxpayer’s dime,” Lucas said, saying Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “refusal to negotiate” left her to block the bill.
While Lucas declared the Senate bill dead after rejecting discussion of it at a meeting Monday, there is also a version of the legislation in the House of Delegates that passed through the house appropriations committee last week.
In December, Youngkin and Leonsis announced an agreement to move the Wizards and Capitals to a new $2 billion sports complex in Alexandria by 2028. The teams currently play in downtown Washington at Capital One Arena.
Underpinning the proposed move is legislation that would issue more than $1 billion in moral obligation bonds to build the complex. Virginia taxpayers would be on the hook if the site did not meet its revenue projections.
A spokeswoman for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Wizards’ and Capitals’ parent company, told reporters Monday that moving the teams to Virginia remains their “only” plan even after the District of Columbia offered $500 million for renovations at Capital One Arena.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday that D.C. plans to require the Wizards and Capitals to play at the arena through 2047, per the terms of their lease. December’s announcement was also met with outrage from local sports fans who want the teams to stay put.