Washington Wizards, Capitals Plan to Depart District For Northern Virginia

Posted on: December 13, 2023, 03:29h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2023, 10:54h.

Washington’s NBA and NHL franchises are planning to depart their longtime home in the nation’s capital for a new facility in Northern Virginia.

Capital One Arena
The original Capital One Arena, shown above. Officials said this week that a new arena will be built a few miles away. (Image: NHL)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and the teams’ owner, Ted Leonsis, Wednesday announced plans to build a new arena complex for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Alexandria, Va., a few miles from the teams’ longtime home in central Washington, D.C., Capital One Arena.

If all goes according to plan, the new arena will begin construction in 2025, and the teams will relocate by 2028. Several hurdles remain between now and then, including state and local government approvals. Hampering those is the fact the D.C. government is still trying to convince Leonsis to change his mind.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Leonsis-led firm that manages the team and arena, said it hopes to keep Capital One Arena open as home to the WNBA Washington Mystics and concerts and events throughout the year.

D.C.’s Most Lucrative Sportsbook

It is unclear what the announcement would mean for the Caesars Sportsbook inside Capital One Arena. Representatives for Caesars and Monumental didn’t respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The sportsbook is the most lucrative of the retail sports betting facilities in the District of Columbia.

Bettors wagered nearly $6 million at the Caesars Sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in October of this year, the most recent month for which data are available, according to the D.C. Lottery Commission. By comparison, the second-largest handle that month in the city came in at $3.3 million from the Bet MGM sportsbook at Nationals Park, home of the city’s MLB franchise.

If the sportsbook remains open, losing its marquee tenants may reduce visits to the site. However, the arena’s convenient location close to D.C.’s central business district should help it maintain some foot traffic.

Even during the NHL and NBA off-season, bettors who wagered in person were likelier to go to Capital One than anywhere else in D.C. In July, the slowest month of the year, Caesars’ handle at Capital One was nearly $2.7 million, compared to $1.2 million at Bet MGM at Nationals Park.

A New Outpost for Virginia Sports Betting? 

The proposed Virginia facility is being pitched as a “World-Class Entertainment District” that would include a new arena, corporate headquarters for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, team practice facilities, a performing arts venue, and other developments.

The announcement made no mention of plans for a sportsbook in the arena. But sports betting is legal in Virginia, so seeing one proposed for the site would be unsurprising. Caesars has been a licensed vendor in Virginia since 2021, but it is only available online.

While in-arena sportsbooks have become relatively common in the five years sports betting has increased in the U.S., they aren’t something previously contemplated in the Old Dominion State. Virginia is currently the largest U.S. state that’s not home to a major professional sports franchise.