Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

 

Dear Fans and Supporters,

I’m writing to update our community of fans, customers, athletes, employees, our union workforce, sponsors, partners and extended family members regarding last month’s announcement that Monumental Sports & Entertainment has reached a framework of an agreement for a public-private partnership to create a world-class Entertainment District at Potomac Yard, the cornerstone of which will be a brand new, state-of-the-art arena for the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards.  

Since the announcement, I have heard from fans across the DMV regarding the potential creation of a new Entertainment District if all approvals are received. I appreciate all the support and excitement from fans and customers about this project and I certainly acknowledge concerns heard from passionate members of the community. I look forward to hearing from those who are concerned, working to address any issues raised and demonstrating why I believe this is the best decision for our fans, our thousands of full and part-time employees, the teams, the athletes, our partners, and the DMV. 

I believe in the DMV and will always be an advocate for our extended community, for the benefit of our teams and fans. My goal is to always take the high road and I believe I have lived up to that. However, I feel that it is important for me to address you, our community, directly, presenting the facts of this project.  

At the heart of this decision is my belief that this project will accomplish two critical objectives: 

1. Provide our fans with the best experience in all of sports.  

From getting in and out of the arena efficiently, to food and beverage experiences, to improved lines-of-sight from all seats, to in-game entertainment, to hospitality spaces, and next generation technology, including better sound systems for games and concerts, easy access to fast Wi-Fi and 5G, and the highest clarity video boards. This continuous experience will carry from pregame outside the building, inside for the event and then back outside following the game. Interactive space all designed and programmed in a fan centric and family friendly way by our teams.  

2. Establish a best-in-class set of facilities for our athletes and employees 

This will give us the best chance to be successful on the ice, on the court, on the airwaves, and in business settings.  

As for where we are in this process: 

 – Monumental Sports & Entertainment continues to work with the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia on the completion of definitive documents.  

 – The project is under consideration through various legislative processes at the Virginia General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council.  

 – All involved parties have undertaken an extensive community engagement process that is well underway. This process will provide a venue for all stakeholders to have input on this project. I genuinely believe this project will only get better through this community engagement. 

 – Multiple traffic analyses are underway to determine infrastructure needs related to the building of the Entertainment District. We also believe this investment will be a catalyst for supporting and improving Metro, which benefits residents and businesses in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. 

 – We have started meeting with the architect for this project, and I am excited about what we’re designing. This new development will be iconic, exemplar when it comes to sustainability and like nothing ever built before in sports and entertainment.  

Location – One DMV 

I came to Washington, DC for the first time as a student at Georgetown University in the 1970s. In the 1990s at AOL (with offices at Tysons and Ashburn, VA), I worked with a team of thousands to drive the worldwide adoption of the Internet. In the 2000s after purchasing the Washington Capitals, I lived through the renaissance of Washington, DC. In the early 2000s, we built a state-of-the-art practice facility and headquarters for the Washington Capitals in Arlington, VA. Situated atop a parking garage in Ballston, this facility is still one of the best in the NHL and a destination for youth hockey in the DMV.  

I raised my family in Virginia and Maryland. I have owned real estate in Washington, D.C, Virginia, and Maryland. I co-founded a venture capital fund with Steve Case, the founder of AOL in Washington, D.C. Revolution Growth, headquartered at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 17th Street NW continues to make investments in Washington, D.C. based companies, including Optoro and CAVA, one of the most successful IPOs of 2023. In other words, my roots in this area go far beyond where Monumental’s teams play their home games.   

Like many of you, each day when I drive to the office, I pass through Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. I believe our region is uniquely positioned to compete with other large metropolitan areas, like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. In the DMV, if one wins, we all win. This was true with Amazon HQ2, and I believe it will be true with our project as well. This project will bring together fans across the Greater Washington region to bring to life a collective vision for Potomac Yard and create exceptional experiences and regional economic growth for decades to come. 

The DMV is a supercity. We have three international airports, two in Virginia and one in Maryland, dozens of renowned public and private universities, large green spaces, most notably, the National Mall, a defining business sector, in our case, the federal government, and finally, professional sports teams.  

Monumental Sports & Entertainment has always been about the entire DMV. The media market for the Capitals and Wizards spans from Richmond, VA to southern Delaware. Virginia has almost 9 million residents, Maryland has over 6 million residents, Washington, DC has almost 700,000 residents. These are the people we are servicing. The global companies that define our region come from all three jurisdictions. To name a few: In Virginia – Leidos in Reston, Capital One in Tysons, and Hilton in McLean. In Maryland, Marriott in Bethesda, Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, and T. Rowe Price in Baltimore. Danaher Corporation, The Carlyle Group and the largest of them all, the federal government, are all in Washington, DC.   

Between the Capitals and the Wizards, 44% of fans who attend games are from Virginia, 41% are from Maryland and 15% are from Washington, DC. The teams represent the DMV, and they belong to the entire DMV. This will never change.  

Additionally, twenty percent of our employees live in Washington, DC, forty-two percent of our employees live in Maryland, and thirty-one percent live in Virginia, with the remaining seven percent distributed across other jurisdictions.  

I disagree with claims that this project would move the teams in a way that will reduce accessibility for fans. The Entertainment District will be 4.5 miles from Capital One Arena, 2.6 miles from the Washington, DC border, under one mile from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, one of the most accessible major metropolitan airports in the United States, and a couple hundred feet from the newly opened Potomac Yard-Virginia Tech Metro Station. Significant efforts are being made to study and optimize transportation options. The Entertainment District will be in a vibrant and central location for our fans, accessible by Metro, car, with 2,500 underground parking spaces, dedicated rideshare drop off, water taxi, walking, running, and bike trail.  

Financing – A Public Private Partnership 

States and cities have various tools and levers they can pull to recruit businesses, including sports teams, into their jurisdictions. They are incentivized to make these offers because they want to add the talent these businesses employ to their community and to add the taxes the businesses and talent generate and pay to their budgets. 

The Entertainment District in Potomac Yard will require no upfront cash commitment by the Commonwealth of Virginia. No new taxes will be imposed on residents or businesses in Virginia. The Commonwealth will own the arena and will use its AAA credit rating to issue bonds to raise funds for construction. The bonds used to pay for construction will be paid back through lease payments paid by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, user fees for patrons of the Entertainment District, and taxes generated by the Entertainment District, all revenues that would not exist without the project. Further, Monumental Sports & Entertainment will contribute over $400 million to the project. 

I find the notion that sports arenas and stadiums do not provide economic benefit to be simply illogical. The MCI Center transformed Chinatown into the economic heartbeat of downtown. With Nationals Park, the District of Columbia brought life to a once desolate neighborhood, now arguably the most vibrant and thriving area of the city. In Baltimore, the creation of the Maryland Stadium Authority in 1986 led to the public financing and continued public investment in Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. In Washington, DC and in Maryland, the revenue generated by the initial public investment in these sports complexes has been so successful that excess funds have been both returned to the general fund to be used for other purposes and reinvested in upkeep and improvements to the facilities. Professional sports teams are important to the fabric of a community. The buildings they play in bring people together, they drive economic growth, and they are worthy of investment.  

Wards 7 and 8 – An Important Part of Our Future  

In 2015, I worked with the city to announce the creation of a sports complex at the St. Elizabeth’s East campus. This complex, owned by the city, would first, lease space to Monumental Sports & Entertainment for a private practice facility for two of our existing teams, the Washington Wizards and the Washington Mystics and in addition for a G-League basketball team that Monumental Sports would subsequently purchase for $7 million, which ultimately was named the Capital City Go-Go. Not just a name, the Capital City Go-Go are an investment in the cultural rhythm of Washington, DC. We are proud of the way in which we are able to honor and highlight this unique part of the city’s history.  

Second, the facility would house the Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA), which, as finally constructed, is a 4,200-seat arena owned and managed by Events DC, an arm of the city government. As part of our commitment, Monumental Sports & Entertainment agreed to make this the home arena of the Washington Mystics and the Capital City Go-Go. The Mystics and Go-Go play their home games (approximately 44 annual events) at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, but Monumental Sports & Entertainment is not responsible for scheduling other events there. Events DC, an arm of the city government, is responsible for managing and booking other events at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.  

As a further sign of our commitment, we PREPAID the lease payments for the entirety of the agreement – an upfront payment to the city of $4.5 million. In addition to lease payments, we pay to Events DC about $600,000 per year for game fees, including event expenses at Mystics and Go-Go games. We have also spent over $4 million in capital improvements at the facility. And finally, as another sign of our commitment, we promised to contribute $10 million in philanthropy to the area over the term of the agreement. A goal that we not only met, but exceeded, in only five years, having contributed over $11 million to date.  

Fortunately, women’s sports are ascendent, experiencing significant growth. The Mystics regularly sell out their home games. Unfortunately, the Mystics and its dedicated fan base are outgrowing the Entertainment and Sports Arena. While I recently stated that I would like the opportunity, if the city agreed, to eventually move the Washington Mystics home games to Capital One Arena, while maintaining the facility at St. Elizabeth’s East as the practice facility and headquarters for the team, we have no intention of abandoning the Entertainment and Sports Arena. The Go-Go will continue to play their home games there, and the Mystics will also continue to play their home games there unless the city agrees in the future that the city and the team would be better served by having this ascendant team play in a larger arena (Capital One Arena).  

Capital One Arena and Downtown Washington, DC 

I want to address the situation around Capital One Arena.  We care about downtown Washington, DC, we are proud of the years of support that we have provided, and that is why we would be open to the opportunity to maintain a presence by continuing to manage Capital One Arena through 2028 and beyond. We intend to continue to support downtown Washington, DC, and we are confident that in working with the city, Capital One Arena can remain a vibrant part of the fabric of downtown Washington, DC for years to come. At the same time, it is clear to us, and many of our neighboring businesses and residents in Chinatown that the needs of downtown Washington, DC and its businesses and residents are significant and challenging for the city. Just as Monumental Sports & Entertainment was part of the initial renaissance of downtown Washington, DC, we would like to be part of the next renaissance.  

Space – Fully developed family and fan friendly sports & entertainment communities 

Professional sports teams are realizing that to build championship level contenders, an outsized investment in space is required. Teams are having to go increasingly outside the center of cities to find this space. However, this unique plot of land in Alexandria is mere miles from downtown Washington, DC, along the Potomac River, incredibly accessible to fans, and next to a metro stop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our company. 

The outline of the space Monumental Sports & Entertainment will assume at the Entertainment District at Potomac Yard overlaid on top of Capital One Arena. 

The extra space is where we will have practice facilities, hotels, office spaces, and a bigger arena. Right now, we have 3.8 acres. In Potomac Yard we will have 12 acres. Currently, we can only program inside the arena. At Potomac Yard, we will be able to program the entire area, creating an exceptional and contiguous fan experience.  

The decision to move the teams to Potomac Yard is about space and opportunity. A chance to consolidate staff and teams currently located in four separate locations – so we can finally have a central headquarters. New room to innovate, more room to provide better services for our teams, services for the community and better experiences for our fans. What excites me about this opportunity is the land, the accessibility it provides, and being part of the tech corridor that has been established in this neighborhood. The ability to build a smart campus from scratch. With this transformational opportunity, we believe the entire DMV community will be enriched and strengthened. 

If you want to learn more about this project or show your support: 

1. Visit monumentalopportunity.com for more information on the facts of this project. This website will serve as the comprehensive information and action center for this project.  

2. Request a sign to display your support at your home or business 

3. Reach out directly to your elected officials 

4. Come join us at an upcoming event 

We believe this expansion of our business will enable us to uphold our commitment to building the very best experience for our fans, employees, and partners. We love the DMV, and we can’t wait for you to see this transformational project come to life. 

-Ted Leonsis 

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