Va. House committee approves Alexandria sports arena legislation

RICHMOND, Va. — The Appropriations Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates voted to send legislation to support the creation of a sports and entertainment district in Alexandria, but a lot more needs to happen before the “monumental” project can move forward. 

House Bill 1514 passed Friday with a 17-3 vote in favor of the project that would bring the Monumental Sports Complex to Virginia. According to the legislation, the bill establishes the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority as a political subdivision charged with financing the construction of a sports and entertainment campus. 

However, it passed with some substitutions.

As introduced in the bill, the authority would be composed of nine members, six of whom will be appointed by the Governor and three of whom will be appointed by the governing body of the city of Alexandria. 

One of the changes made before the bill passed in the committee, is that the authority will consist of 15 members. Five would be appointed by the Governor, three non-legislative citizen members would be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. Two non-legislative citizen members would be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, three by the governing body of the City of Alexandria, one by Arlington County and one by Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Those details are outlined starting at line 110 in the bill below.

The authority would be authorized to issue money to help build a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals in the Potomac Yard neighborhood in Alexandria.

There were several changes made to the bill before it was voted on Friday. 

State lawmakers also heard five minutes of testimony from supporters, and five minutes of testimony from opponents.

While the bill overwhelmingly passed, a reenactment clause was added to the bill, which essentially freezes the deal in place for at least a year. With this amendment, the bill will not go into effect unless acted on as a separate budget next year, according to Delegate David L. Bulova.

“This keeps the ball moving along. We always reserve the right to take off that reenactment clause,” Bulova explained. “At this point what we’re doing is making sure we have a vehicle from which to continue negotiations. With this reenactment clause, this would not go into effect this year.” 

A Monumental spokesperson released a statement following the vote Friday:

“Today’s vote represents a significant step forward, and we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the committee. This signifies momentum as we continue our community engagement. We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with legislators as they navigate this process.”

In a press release Friday, the coalition Monumental Opportunity Partnership released a list of businesses, organizations and retailers who they say support this “monumental opportunity”:

The coalition claims that in recent weeks, Alexandria residents have made more than 2,000 calls and sent hundreds of emails to officials expressing their support. 

However, not everyone supports the decision to bring the arena to the area. Following the vote, the Coalition to Stop the Arena at Potomac Yard said the group is encouraged by the added reenactment clause.

“The reenactment clause is a clear demonstration of a desire for more transparency, more details, and more time. It proves that the members of the General Assembly are listening to their constituents,” said Andrew Macdonald, who testified against this bill. “A ‘no’ vote next week by the full House of Delegates and the Senate remains the best way for the General Assembly to stand with the residents of Alexandria and the taxpayers of Virginia against a billionaire team owner and a millionaire governor. The grassroots members of the Stop the Arena Coalition will continue to fight to make sure this deal ends up where it belongs: on the scrap heap.”

“While we haven’t won the war. This is definitely a battle that we won today,” said John Breyault, who is the Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud with the National Consumers League, and a member of the Coalition to Stop the Arena.

He explained that he and others who are against this, aren’t against economic development at Potomac Yard.

“We are not NIMBYs. I think it’s fairly obvious that economic development at Potomac Yard is going to happen. Economic development is a good thing. What’s a bad thing is when billionaire sports owners ask the tax payers to pay for that,” said Breyault.

The bill still needs to go before the House. That needs to happen by Tuesday. If it passes, it would need to pass in the Senate, and then it would make it’s way to the Governor’s desk.

However, Breyault told WUSA9 that reenactment clause gives him and other opponents hope.

“For a year Mr. Leonsis and the Governor are gonna have to face scrutiny about the promises they’re making about economic development on this bill,” said Breyault.


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