By Ben Sullivan
Sen. L. Louise Lucas said today that proposed legislation to help the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals relocate to northern Virginia is dead.
Lucas, chair of the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee, first said over the weekend on social media that legislation underpinning the deal was “not ready for prime time” and would not receive a hearing in her committee.
The decision in effect killed the Senate version of the legislation because of a procedural deadline this week, though another bill is making progress in the House of Delegates, which is also controlled by Democrats.
Lucas said today that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin had made a series of mistakes in trying to advance the deal through a General Assembly now in full Democratic control after November’s elections.
Youngkin took a broad swipe at Democrats during a weekend speech at Washington and Lee University, saying the party does “not believe in — nor do they want — a strong America.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said his caucus has concerns about whether the governor is truly willing to consider its priorities, including legislation to establish recreational cannabis sales and further increase the minimum wage, in negotiations over the legislation. Lucas is also seeking toll relief for the Hampton Roads region.
Asked if the deal was “dead,” Lucas responded bluntly: “As far as I’m concerned, it is.”
Youngkin and entrepreneur Ted Leonsis, a former AOL executive and the CEO of the teams’ parent company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, announced in December that they had reached an understanding on a deal to relocate the Capitals and Wizards.
The proposed new site in Alexandria would be just miles from where the teams currently play in Washington.
Monica Dixon, a top executive at Monumental, said in a written statement that the company is having “healthy discussions” with General Assembly leaders and Alexandria City Council members, who would also need to sign off on the deal. Dixon said the company is encouraged by Friday’s vote in a House committee, where the bill passed on a 17-3 vote.
“This project will deliver tremendous benefits for the City of Alexandria and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, including tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in revenue and economic impact,” Dixon said.