News & Politics

So, Is the Potomac Yard Stadium Deal Dead?

Not entirely—but it’s looking less likely the Caps and Wizards will move down south.

Photograph by Arya Hodjat.

The Virginia General Assembly released its final state budget of the legislative session on Thursday, with one notable item left out—the $2 billion deal to fund construction of a new stadium for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

While the deal isn’t dead yet, it represents a massive setback for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis’s plan to lure the teams away from their longtime home in Chinatown.

“I believe the Senate is about to make a colossal mistake,” Youngkin said at a press conference on the steps of the state capitol building Thursday. “It was truly—and could truly be—a monumental opportunity.”

In order for the deal to progress this year, Youngkin would need to propose an amendment to the budget bill, which the chambers would then vote on at the April 17 session, or call a special legislative session.

But Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington—and a longtime Virginia General Assembly watcher—said it was unlikely such a move would be successful.

“Trying to add the stadium deal to the legislature’s budget plan only means that the Senate would reject that project again,” Farnsworth told Washingtonian. “The governor wants a legacy, and the Democratic majorities can just wait him out—he only has one more session as governor after this year’s session concludes.”

“The fact that there is no deal yet may mean there won’t be a deal at all,” Farnsworth added.

Perhaps the biggest spanner in the works to the deal came in the form of state Senator Louise Lucas, a Democrat from Portsmouth—just south of Norfolk—and the chair of the senate’s finance committee. Lucas, who refused to put the bill on her committee’s docket, became the face of public opposition to the new stadium, which she labeled the “Glenn Dome.” She cited the project’s price tag and financing model, which would be partially paid for using public bonds, as reasons for her disapproval.

On Wednesday night, Lucas tweeted a meme of herself posing next to a grave, with a headstone labeled “YOUNGKIN AND LEONSIS’ $5 BILLION ARENA.”

“Who DID THIS?! 😂,” the caption read.

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow