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Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

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Uncertain future of D.C. teams impacts students looking to support district sports

D.C. sports fans react to possible Virginia arena plans as bill stalls in state legislature
Uncertain+future+of+D.C.+teams+impacts+students+looking+to+support+district+sports
Blake Guterman

American University student’s ability to attend sports games in Washington, D.C., has been called into question after the district’s sports teams have considered moving to Virginia. 

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Dec. 13 that the Washington Wizards and Capitals teams would move to Alexandria, Virginia, to play future games. However, the bill to designate a sports and entertainment authority for the arena was not passed by the Virginia State Senate before the end of the legislative session on Feb. 9. The legislature will reconvene on April 17. 

The future of the Wizards and Capitals moving to Alexandria is still unclear. Students hoping to follow sports in the district would have to travel further on the Metro to see these sports teams play if the move happens. 

Although the Virginia State Senate Bill to approve a new arena passed the Virginia State House on Feb. 12, it has to pass the Virginia State Senate. Virginia State Sen. L. Louise Lucas said she believes it is in the best interests of Virginia taxpayers not to bring the arena to Virginia, according to a post on her X, formerly known as Twitter, account. In her position as Chair of the Virginia State Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, Lucas has blocked the bill’s progression.

Pending legislative and local government approval the project would begin construction in 2025 and open in 2028, according to the Monumental Opportunity project page.

Youngkin, the governor of Virginia, and Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, previously announced the proposal of a $2 billion “world-class entertainment district in the city of Alexandria at Potomac Yard,” according to a Dec. 13, 2023, news release on Youngkin’s website

The 9 million-square-foot district development would have featured MSE’s global headquarters, a new Wizards and Capitals arena, the Wizards practice facility, and many other retail stores, restaurants and residential communities, according to the news release.

A diagram of the arena project plan was presented during a town hall. (Blake Guterman)

Sophomore Lily Arcand, student athlete for AU’s women’s lacrosse team, said she loves watching sports games. From AU basketball games to MLB games at Nationals Park in Navy Yard, and NBA and NHL games at the Capital One Arena in Chinatown, she said she embraces the prideful atmosphere of district sports. 

“It’s just like a good way for the community to kind of come together and rally around something that is just like fun and not political,” Arcand said.

Arcand said that AU’s school spirit has not been incredibly strong compared to other colleges in the DMV, despite a growth of school spirit in recent years.

“There is a decent show up sometimes to the AU basketball games,” Arcand said. “Some of the other sports are lacking a little bit of fan support.”  

Former Vice Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, Andrew Macdonald said he felt worried that future college students did not want to travel to see the Wizards and Capitals play in his city. 

Macdonald volunteers for Stop the Arena, a coalition to help stop the Potomac Yard Arena plan. Stop the Arena’s goal is to maintain Alexandria’s character, by saying “no” to the arena plan, according to the Stop the Arena website.  

Yard sign supported the “Stop the Arena” movement to halt arena construction in Alexandria.

Macdonald said that Alexandria’s infrastructure was not meant to withhold a big stadium shown on the proposal outlined.  

“It’s much easier for people to go to the games when it stays in D.C.,” Macdonald said. “Having a sports stadium in the district is a great thing.”   

John Breyault, an Arlington resident since 1999, said he expressed concerns about AU students having more inconvenient transportation methods to watch the Wizards and Capitals play in Alexandria.    

AU students can currently get to the Capital One Arena by taking the red line trains from Tenleytown to the Gallery Place-Chinatown station. If the teams did move to Alexandria, students could take the same route, in addition to the blue or yellow line from Gallery Place-Chinatown to Potomac Yard, according to the 2023 Metro System map

Breyault said he opposed the new arena deal because of its inconvenient transportation. 

“I want to make sure that all of the fans in the DMV can access these teams, and the Wizards and Capital in particular, as easily as possible,” Breyault said.

Alexandria City Council Member Sarah Bagley said she believed the Metro was the best transportation system for district residents and college students to get to the arena. There are no other ways in the winter, when both teams play, to conveniently travel with passengers.

“We cannot abandon the Metro,” Bagley said during the Potomac Yard Entertainment District Town Hall meeting. “We see the Metro as a key piece in this project’s viability.”   

Stop the Arena Coalition Member and Georgetown University Alumna Kira Pomeranz, said she has fond memories of watching the Wizards, Capitals and Georgetown men’s basketball teams play games at the Capital One Arena with her friends.  

“It’s just always been a fun campus tradition,” Pomeranz said.  

When Pomeranz attended Georgetown, most students were willing to travel to Chinatown, she said.  

Although Georgetown University students could use the blue line to access the new stadium, Pomeranz said leaving the district makes the experience less enjoyable.  

“Not only are you leaving the bubble, but you’re leaving the state,” Pomeranz said. “You’re literally going into another state.”    

The Washington Wizards, formerly the Baltimore Bullets, and the Capitals used to play their games at the Capital Centre – which was located in Landover, Maryland – according to a 1997 Washington Post article on the opening of what is now the Capital One Arena. It was not until 1997 when both teams moved to the Capital One Arena. 

Junior Asa Cumming said he is a big district sports fan. He said AU should give their student-athletes more recognition. 

When Cumming attended a recent AU field hockey game, he said he only saw parents and close friends of the actual players on the team sitting on the Reeves field bleachers.  

“People who didn’t know the players usually won’t go to those games,” Cumming said. “The athletes are kind of separated from the student body as well.”     

He said AU should send more emails and put up posters around campus buildings to recruit more students to their sporting events.  

Cumming also said he opposed the proposal for the new arena. 

“Nobody knows what Alexandria is, but they do know what Washington, D.C., is,” Cumming said. “Isolating itself from the district where the majority of their supporters are just doesn’t really sit right with me.”  

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About the Contributor
Blake Guterman, Podcast Producer
Blake Guterman (He/Him) is a senior with a Journalism Major and Psychology Minor. He loves to read, write, cook, exercise, hike, listen to music and socialize with friends. He also takes pride in his love of Spongebob Squarepants, Family Guy, Totally Spies, and Coldplay.