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Gov. Glenn Youngkin gives shoutout to Del Ray BBQ spot in State of the Commonwealth address

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray with restaurant employee Karl Gallant, Sept. 8, 2023 (courtesy photo)

In his second annual State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Glenn Youngkin praised Pork Barrel BBQ (2312 Mount Vernon Avenue) in Del Ray at the end of a section arguing in favor of the new Potomac Yard arena.

Youngkin, who has faced some unwelcome receptions in Alexandria in the past, had previously visited Pork Barrel BBQ.

In his speech, Youngkin said the new arena bringing the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards to Alexandria will be a boon for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the region, and the City of Alexandria.

“Small businesses will win too: one of those businesses is Pork Barrel BBQ in the Del Ray neighborhood, where for over a decade you’d find its owner, Bill Blackburn, behind the counter,” Youngkin said. “He’s a father of two and his roots in Alexandria run deep. He knows that when opportunity knocks, you should open the door. He knows having a world-class sports entertainment venue… right around the corner is good for business.”

Blackburn was in attendance at the address and received applause from the audience.

“Bill, thank you for showing us that when the opportunity presents itself, Virginia should seize it,” Youngkin said. “Thank you for being one of the thousands of small business owners that are lifting up the economy and are the lifeblood of Virginia’s future.”

In the speech, Youngkin was making the case for the new Potomac Yard to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is considering legislation to create a sports and entertainment authority, which would then have the power to issue the $1.5 billion in bonds required for the project.

“In partnership with the General Assembly, we can bring this opportunity to fruition,” Youngkin said. “Together, we can welcome both a new NBA team and new NHL team, with $12 billion in new economic activity and 30,000 new jobs.”

The city-funded Alexandria Economic Development Partnership hired lobbyists to advocate for the development at the General Assembly.

Youngkin said the arena opportunity is “rare and complex.”

Many in the General Assembly, and in Alexandria as a whole, remain unconvinced. The Pork Barrel BBQ choice is particularly ironic given that some state legislators have expressed concerns that the project will be Commonwealth funding to a project solely benefiting one locality — also known as pork barrel spending.

Republican State Senator Glen Sturtevant told 7News that he was reticent to give Alexandria more state funding after earlier appropriations for the state-mandated RiverRenew project. New legislation proposed this month also made it clear that RiverRenew won’t meet its 2025 deadlines.

Locally, the Potomac Yard arena has drawn protests from both Alexandrians and Washingtonians, where transportation concerns remain a key issue. State Sen. Adam Ebbin said securing Metro funding is a precondition, at the very least, to even talking about the arena.

In a release from Capitals and Wizards owner Monumental Sports, Blackburn said he was excited about the project

“As a small business owner, a resident, and a parent in Alexandria, I’m excited about this project and the opportunities it will create for my business, my family, and my city,” said Blackburn following the annual address. “The City, the Governor, and the General Assembly are going above and beyond to engage with residents and the business community about this opportunity and I really appreciate that. This project should be something that brings our community together regardless of your politics. It’s about investing in the future of our City.”

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