NBA Team The Washington Wizards

Alexandria Mayor announces end of Virginia Arena Deal with Capitals and Wizards, causing shock and disappointment among sports fans.

Facade of Capital One Arena
The arena opened in 1997 and transformed Chinatown. Photo: Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The deal to build a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Potomac Yard “will not move forward,” the mayor of Alexandria announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It’s a dramatic turnaround after the teams’ owner Ted Leonsis unveiled plans last December to build a sprawling entertainment district in Alexandria — only for the taxpayer-funded deal to stall in Virginia’s Democratic-controlled legislature.

What’s next: Leonsis and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will make an announcement about the future of Capital One Arena on Wednesday evening, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

What they’re saying: “The City of Alexandria has ended negotiations,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a statement, adding: “We trusted this process and are disappointed in what occurred between the Governor and General Assembly.”

The intrigue: Leonsis is suddenly saying awfully nice things about Capital One Arena, giving the public signs that he might stay in D.C.

  • While tweeting positive stats about recent attendance figures for concerts and sports games, Leonsis added: “Each of these events brings the community together, supports thousands of jobs, and generates significant tax revenue for the city.” Note: “the city“!

Catch up fast: As the Alexandria arena deal looked dead in the Virginia legislature, D.C.’s attorney general delivered another blow last week, warning the teams can’t contractually leave downtown until 2047.

  • Through it all, Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council said a counteroffer to revamp Capital One Arena remained on the table for Leonsis.

Flashback: Capital One Arena, then known as the MCI Center, opened in 1997 and transformed the Chinatown neighborhood.

  • Over the years, D.C. and Monumental have invested to improve the facility, including $70 million spent by Monumental in 2018 and 2019.
  • But Leonsis sought bigger improvements, including a new grassy entrance and seating that’s closer to the action.

Bowser and Monumental did not return Axios’ requests for comment.

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