“I’m deeply disappointed Ted Leonsis has chosen to move the Wizards and Capitals out of the District. It’s the wrong decision for fans and the teams and undermines decades of goodwill, team pride, and community-building. Hundreds of thousands of fans have unforgettable memories of their days and nights in and around the arena – from season openers to Stanley Cups. We all have a favorite spot before the game and a go-to bar after. We’ve built traditions there, and our residents have been nothing but devoted to our teams.
The teams leaving Chinatown will impact the District’s economy, even more so if plans for Downtown’s revitalization continue to stagnate. That’s exactly why I sounded the alarm on the risk of overlooking Capital One Arena for RFK in the Post months ago, arguing we needed to urgently focus on taking care of the stadiums and venues we already had – and the dire consequences if we didn't:
“[...S]hould owner Ted Leonsis and his team move two major league franchises to a new location outside the District, the loss would be profound for our downtown. In every conversation I’ve had with government and community leaders, the murky future of Capital One Arena is an urgent, unresolved issue. […] D.C. needs to invest in the proven and existing product — not be distracted by the latest shiny object. Capital One Arena should be our top priority.”
But DC didn’t do that. Instead of prioritizing the cultural and economic engines already in our backyard, ones that are central to our continued recovery, we’ve only seen greater focus on the shiny object – and the less fruitful deal – for DC’s economy. Today’s move wasn’t inevitable, but avoiding it required far more focus in the past year than it ever received from the Administration.
We must move aggressively to transform Downtown, with or without the Wizards and Capitals, and we must be strategic about our investments. This situation won’t resolve itself; it will only compound. That means vision and an appreciation of the urgent change needed, which I hope today’s terrible decision will finally ignite.
I’ll also add that I expect to see this same energy for WMATA’s finances from all the region’s leaders that we are seeing for stadiums. If you want to talk about a devastating hit to our regional economy, look no further than the proposed cuts, layoffs, and closures that WMATA has proposed to meet the fiscal cliff it’s facing.”