DC Council Set to Vote on Funding for Capital One Arena Renovations

WTOP NEWS: The D.C. Council is set to vote Tuesday on a bill that would allocate more than $500 million toward improving the Capital One Arena as part of a plan to keep the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals in the District until 2050.

Council Chair Phil Mendelson said he expects the measure to pass.

Under the legislation, $515 million in D.C.’s capital budget would go toward renovations to the arena and improvements to the surrounding area, including the Gallery Place building next door.

According to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards and Capitals, terms of the deal include the following:

  • Developing the best sightlines for fans, premium hospitality options, better digital infrastructure, enhanced player spaces and more arena upgrades
  • Nearly 200,000 square feet of newly-programmed space throughout the arena and in the Gallery Place building
  • Seventeen dedicated safety officers from two hours before games to two hours afterward
  • New Wizards practice facility, with options including top floors of Gallery Place
  • The ability to hold four Washington Mystics and Capital City Go-Go games, and playoff games, at Capital One Arena
  • Giving Monumental control of Entertainment & Sports Arena management
  • Adding dedicated ride-share zone and drop off for events
  • Ability to close off F Street two hours before games
  • Removing vending, loitering, noise restrictions around Capital One Arena by creating an Entertainment District

Mendelson said he does not have a copy of the term sheet but has been briefed on the terms of the deal between Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis and Mayor Muriel Bowser.

During a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s 12 p.m. council meeting, Mendelson clarified that the terms of their deal are not binding, and the council is merely voting on an appropriation of D.C. capital budget money, not finalizing the renovation project and its exact terms.

“We are not voting on the lease, which will have to come to the council. We’re not voting on any other documents that, depending upon what they are, will have to come to the council. And that’s where the District will be bound,” he said.

“And I don’t mean by that to create any ambiguity about what was agreed to last week. What was agreed to last week was initialed and signed by the mayor and by Mr. Leonsis and it is a commitment to go forward with negotiating documents consistent with the term sheet, but it’s not a contract,” Mendelson added.

According to the council resolution introduced by Mendelson, more than 3.4 million people attended events at Capital One Arena in 2023, bringing in more than $25 million in tax revenues and sustaining more than 650 jobs.

“A renovated arena in Chinatown/Gallery Place will again revitalize a neighborhood, create and sustain quality new jobs for District residents, and strengthen a commitment to community and fan engagement,” the resolution reads.

While D.C. is set to allocate $515 million toward the project, the total projected cost of the renovations exceeds $830 million, according to the resolution.

“With the District of Columbia Government’s substantial investment, coupled with a commitment to community engagement and economic development, the project is poised to redefine the arena’s role as a catalyst for our comeback,” the resolution reads.

That agreement was reached after a deal between Leonsis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to bring the teams to a new arena in Alexandria fell apart due to Democratic opposition in the state’s General Assembly.

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