BusinessLabor unions oppose relocation of Washington Capitals and Wizards to Virginia

Labor unions oppose relocation of Washington Capitals and Wizards to Virginia

A formidable alliance of labor unions has dealt a significant blow to the proposed relocation of the Washington Capitals and Wizards from downtown D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia. The latest obstacle adds complexity to an already challenging plan that faces resistance among legislators in Richmond.

Despite promises from project officials and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the teams’ owner, to prioritize union labor for constructing the new arena, the Northern Virginia AFL-CIO strongly criticized the proposal, prompting Democrats in Virginia to pull their support. The labor union, representing construction workers and concession stand employees at the current home, Capital One Arena, argued that the plan lacks crucial labor protections for construction workers. Additionally, concerns were raised about the absence of parallel union commitments for private development projects in the proposed entertainment district surrounding the Alexandria facility.

Virginia Diamond, president of the AFL-CIO’s Northern Virginia chapter, emphasized the need for robust labor protection. 

“Taxpayers should not invest heavily in a project that only perpetuates low-wage jobs for local workers,” Diamond wrote in a statement.

The unions’ stance follows unsuccessful negotiations with state officials and Monumental. Approval from Virginia state lawmakers and the Alexandria City Council remains essential for the $2 billion project to proceed, and many Democrats within the legislature and council have asserted that labor support is a pivotal factor in their decision-making process.

The Washington Informer previously reported that on Jan. 25, Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis outlined the proposed relocation in a public letter and suggested moving the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and front office operations to the Potomac Yard neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

Leonsis also addressed the future of the Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA) in Ward 8, where the Washington Mystics and the G-League basketball team, Capital City Go-Go, currently hold home games. Despite acknowledging the Mystics’ increasing popularity, Leonsis assured that the ESA would not be abandoned. He expressed a commitment to keeping the Go-Go at the ESA, with the possibility of moving the Mystics’ home games to Capital One Arena in the future, pending approval from the city.

“The Mystics regularly sell out their home games. Unfortunately, the Mystics and its dedicated fan base are outgrowing the Entertainment and Sports Arena,” Leonsis wrote. “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. Elizabeths 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 ascendent team play in a larger arena (Capital One Arena).”

Source: Washington Informer

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