Home The Glenn Dome is dead: Alexandria backs out of Youngkin-Leonsis arena deal
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The Glenn Dome is dead: Alexandria backs out of Youngkin-Leonsis arena deal

Chris Graham
alexandria arena
Photo: alexandriaecon.org

The City of Alexandria has ended negotiations on the deal being pushed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that would have built a $2 billion arena for billionaire sports-franchise owner Ted Leonsis with $1.5 billion in state taxpayer funds.

“We are disappointed that this proposal was not able to be thoughtfully considered on its merits by legislators, stakeholders and ultimately now by our community. Instead we got caught up in partisan warfare in Richmond,” Alexandria Mayor Justin M. Wilson, a Democrat, said in a video statement released on Wednesday.

It didn’t take long for Leonsis to move on from the failed deal with Virginia. Before the ink was dry on the press releases from the City of Alexandria and from the office of Gov. Youngkin, Leonsis and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post that they were finalizing a deal that would keep Leonsis’ NBA and NHL teams in D.C. through 2050.

Under the terms of that new deal, which needs to be approved by the D.C. City Council, the District would commit $515 million to modernize the teams’ current home, Capital One Arena, and give Leonsis control of the home arena of the Washington Mystics WNBA franchise.

The deal would also put Leonsis and D.C. as partners in a planned Downtown D.C. practice facility for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.

Bottom line for Virginia taxpayers: it’s not our money.

Not that Youngkin, a centi-millionaire who wanted us to give his billionaire buddy $1.5 billion for a new playhouse for his teams, is happy about that.

“Virginians deserve better. A one-of-a-kind project bringing world-class athletes and entertainment, creating 30,000 jobs and $12 billion in economic activity just went up in smoke,” Youngkin said in a news release issued by his office, citing discredited figures on jobs and projected economic impact from the boondoggle.

“This transformational project would have driven investment to every corner of the Commonwealth. This should have been our deal and our opportunity, all the General Assembly had to do was say: ‘thank you, Monumental, for wanting to come to Virginia and create $12 billion of economic investment, let’s work it out.’ But no, personal and political agendas drove away a deal with no upfront general fund money and no tax increases, that created tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in revenue for Virginia,” Youngkin said.

More in the way of discredited arguments there.

Youngkin stepped on his own dick on this one. The tide turned against him in the General Assembly after he gave a partisan-tinged speech aimed at Virginia Democrats at the Washington and Lee University mock presidential convention last month.

It was after that speech that State Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, the chair of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committee, moved to strike legislation advancing the deal struck by Youngkin and Leonsis in December from the Senate legislative docket.

Instead of reaching out with an olive branch, Youngkin turned to partisan fire, touring the state after the General Assembly came to terms on a 2024-2026 state budget, which he termed “The Backward Budget,” trying, and this made no sense, to rile up his Republican base, when it’s Democrats that he needed to persuade to be on his side.

This is why you don’t hire a guy with no experience in politics to run government.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].