City ends arena negotiations Wednesday

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City ends arena negotiations Wednesday
Mayor Justin Wilson at the announcement of the planned development of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals in December 2023. (Photo/Caitlyn Meisner)
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By Caitlyn Meisner | cmeisner@alextimes.com

The city announced it has ended negotiations on the Potomac Yard arena and entertainment district in a press release just before 4 p.m. Wednesday. Included in the five-paragraph statement was a video lasting just over three minutes from Mayor Justin Wilson.

“The City of Alexandria will no longer be considering the current proposal and will instead turn our focus to other efforts to bring quality commercial opportunities to the community in the future,” Wilson said in the video.

This announcement comes after months of discussions among residents, presentations by the city and battles in the General Assembly over funding, as Wilson highlighted.

“We have come to the conclusion that the General Assembly process is not going to produce a proposal that protects our financial responsibilities and respects our community’s values,” Wilson said.

As it currently stands, the Sports and Entertainment Authority, which would issue bonds for the project, was not included in the state budget. It’s unclear if Gov. Glenn Youngkin will call a special session in the coming months or send down a budget amendment when the Assembly reconvenes next month.

Additionally, several candidates who are running in the Democratic City Council and mayoral primary, scheduled for June 11, expressed doubt or their opposition to the proposed project. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, who is running for mayor, is the only current member of City Council who is on the record as opposing the arena.

Jackson said in an interview with the Times just after the Wednesday announcement that the decision to end negotiations is unfortunate, but she didn’t think the proposal was ultimately a good fit for the city.

“For me, it just didn’t feel right and I couldn’t put Alexandria’s future at risk,” Jackson said to the Times. “Now we’re looking to the future.”

Jonathan Huskey, who filed Monday to run for Council, has based his campaign on opposition to the arena, while current councilors John Taylor Chapman and Kirk McPike have expressed doubts but not outright opposition.

Jackson said land surrounding the Potomac Yard Metro station is valuable, and proposed it should be turned into something similar to Fairfax’s Mosaic District. She said performing arts venues and hotels are necessary in the area for tourism and promoting the city.

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