The Alexandria arena bill may pass or fail — but there’s a third option, too

FILE - This Thursday Feb. 20, 2020 file photo shows House Appropriations committee Chairman, Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, delivering remarks as the House considers the budget bill during the House session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va.. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)(AP/Steve Helber)

There are a few potential options on the table for the Virginia legislation that would establish a sports and entertainment authority, laying the groundwork for a new arena to be built in Alexandria for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

It comes after the bill passed in the House of Delegates by a vote of 59-40 last week.

The bill has now moved into the Senate, specifically into the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee. That means Democratic Sen. L. Louise Lucas, who chairs the committee, will decide what happens next.

“That rests with her,” said Democratic Del. Luke Torian, who sponsored the arena bill in the House of Delegates.

“We have not been given an indication” as to what Lucas will do, Torian told WTOP. “I’m sure we’ll find out something pretty soon.”

Lucas could choose to send the bill to a subcommittee or take up the legislation within her full committee, or she could simply choose to do nothing, which would essentially kill the bill.

There is another option too, however, which would involve lawmakers agreeing to not let the bill die but rather to delay action on it for a year.

“That possibility exists as well,” Torian said. “Things are kind of up in the air.”

When asked if Torian had any idea which way Lucas was leaning, he responded by saying “right now, I have no idea.”

Lucas has been publicly outspoken against the arena proposal on social media, deriding it by calling it the “Glenn dome,” referring to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s support for it.

“It’s a pretty hot topic right now, and so Sen. Lucas has a pretty big decision to make,” Torian said.

Lucas has not responded to numerous requests for an interview with WTOP.

More Wizards, Capitals Arena News

The bill would create a sports and entertainment authority that would own the land in Alexandria and lease it to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Capitals and Wizards.

It would have the ability to fund much of the project by issuing bonds.

While no upfront state taxpayer dollars would go toward the project, the terms of the agreement would divert new tax revenues from the project to pay down the bonds.

The broad outline of the proposal calls for Monumental to invest $403 million in the $2 billion development. Alexandria would put in $106 million toward the construction of the performing arts venue and the development of underground parking.

The rest of the approximately $1.5 billion financing would be supported through the authority-issued bonds.

Those bonds would be repaid over time through rent paid by the team, parking fees, naming rights and new tax revenues generated by the development.

The whole site would include an arena, as well as a new Wizards practice facility, a separate performing arts center, a media studio, new hotels, a convention center, housing and shopping.

Even if the plan does pass in the General Assembly, it would still need the green light from the Alexandria City Council.

“This is all a long, complicated process,” said Canek Aguirre, one of the city council members. “If it does pass in Richmond, we still have to go through our process here which, at this point, we’re still looking at easily six to eight months of public engagement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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