Collapse of deal that would take Wizards to Virginia prompts allegations of impropriety

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The Wizards almost relocated to Virginia. Back in December, the team’s majority owner Ted Leonsis admitted that he felt “goosebumps” about how excited he was about this deal that would take both NBA and NHL franchises to the city of Alexandria.

Last week, the deal collapsed. The team owner had a handshake agreement on the table with Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who expected to finance the relocations with tax-paid money, that would also pay for a new arena that would exhibited games for professional basketball and football matches.

After the project’s demise, an enormous amount of recriminations have ensued towards Virginia officials and companies, as many allegations of potential slander and impropriety have been made.

“We made mistakes. I know the governor made mistakes. Monumental made mistakes. JBG made mistakes. And I’m sure the General Assembly made mistakes,” revealed Justin Wilson, Mayor of Alexandria.

“The whole thing unseemly,” Mayor Wilson insisted, as he noted the work of political consultant Ben Tribbett, who appears to be paid by both Comstock, a competing development company, and L. Louise Lucas, a committee chairwoman.

Tribbett proceeded to defended himself by saying that it’s not unusual for people in his profession to advise many kinds of clients, as each of their interests are kept confidential. “If you’re an architect, it’s not a conflict to work on multiple buildings. And if you’re a political consultant, it’s not a conflict to work with multiple political clients,” he said.

Businessman Greg LeRoy, for example, can’t believe the deal got shot down because people think that a project of this magnitude would hurt Virginia’s business climate. “Other regions would kill for a business climate like northern Virginia’s,” said the executive director of incentives watchdog Good Jobs First.

The Governor said he understood why Leonsis moved on, but believes things should’ve panned out differently. “Eventually you’ve got to go negotiate something else. And, boy, did D.C. provide him with a remarkable alternative,” he said.

Governor Youngkin expressed his frustration over the demise of a project that would potentially create $12 billion

The proposal made to Washington’s NFL and NBA teams had years in planning, and the past months in negotiation. As the news came about the rejection of the plan, Governor Youngkin couldn’t hide his disappointment over the resolution, as he believed if would’ve potentially created $12 billion in economic investment.

“This should have been our deal and our opportunity,” he said in a statement. “But no, personal and political agendas drove away a deal with no upfront general fund money and no tax increases, that created tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in revenue for Virginia.”

Back in December, both the Governor and Leonsis had revealed at a public event that they were reaching an understanding of a plan that would start by creating a $2 billion development district with a new sports arena in Alexandria, which is only a few miles from where Capital One Arena is today.

The idea was that the offering would ask the General Assembly to set up an authority that would create bonds to finance most of the ambitious project, which was backed partly by both city and state governments. According to the plan, a lot of the investment would’ve been repaid through a mix of tax revenues recaptured by the project itself.