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Off-site parking and shuttles are being considered for the new arena at Potomac Yard

Monumental Sports & Entertainment and JBG Smith conducted a roundtable discussion with Alexandria business leaders at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Officials planning the $2 billion arena at Potomac Yard say that there will be multiple ways to park around and access the site, from accessing parking garages in nearby Crystal City and at Metro stations, with fans getting carted around in shuttles running up and down Potomac Avenue.

Transportation issues were the most frequently mentioned in a roundtable discussion on Monday with local business owners and representatives at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray. The dozen or so business leaders otherwise expressed support for the project.

“The biggest thing I’m hearing from business owners and residents is the transportation and traffic needs,” Pork Barrel owner Bill Blackburn said. “That seems to be the overriding concern for folks.”

Working hand-in-hand, officials from Monumental Sports and site owner JBG Smith said that data from a transportation impact study will be released in weeks, not months. The 70-acre development is sandwiched between Richmond Highway to the west and the George Washington Memorial Parkway to the east. It is also next door to the brand new Potomac Yard Metro station, which will have to be upgraded to accommodate arena-size traffic.

“We have to make sure that the transportation plan that comes out of this works to make sure that your business is continuing to thrive, whether they’re in Del Ray, or Old Town, or at the arena district or in Crystal City, we want to make sure that everyone sort of understands how this is going to impact them and get all the data,” said Evan Regan-Levine, executive vice president at JBG Smith.

The meeting followed news that an authority to finance the deal was introduced into the Virginia General Assembly on Friday, and that Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration outlined $200 million for transportation improvements for the area. Mayor Justin Wilson said last month that the entertainment district will have minimal parking to discourage visitors from driving to the area.

“Who wouldn’t want some of the best athletes in the world visiting Alexandria and eating at my restaurant?” said Jamond Quander, owner of 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood in Old Town. “I think Alexandria is enough of a destination, is well known enough, that events at the new arena won’t hurt, but only improve my business. The question is how are they going to handle the transportation impact?”

Regan-Levine said that there are going to be multiple ways to access the proposed entertainment district.

“Look, there are a lot of different ways you’re gonna be able to access this,” he said. “And some of that might mean parking at something off-site. So, do I park at a Metro garage that’s not used at night and take the Metro a couple of stops in, and whether that’s Eisenhower or Huntington (stations), or also even in National Landing in Crystal City… The idea would be let’s open up and let’s run some shuttle buses down Potomac Avenue so we take some of those cars off the local grid.”

Jordan Silberman, Monumental’s executive vice president and general manager, said that solving the transportation issue is the most important piece in this puzzle.

“We want to make sure that as we invite everybody into, into our building (the arena), that people in the neighborhood feel good about it,” Silberman said. “It’s gonna make sure that we’re enforcing parking across Route 1 and the Mount Vernon neighborhood and Del Rey and making sure that people are not parking here and walking across the street into the neighborhood and affecting people’s lives.”

Monumental Sports wants the first phase of the project to be completed in 2029. According to Monumental:

The proposed sports and entertainment district in Potomac Yard would stimulate growth and job creation in the region through a new campus featuring the global corporate headquarters for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, an industry-leading arena for both the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards, a state-of-the-art Monumental Sports Network media studio, a Wizards practice facility, a performing arts venue, and an expanded esports facility, in addition to new retail, restaurants, hotels, housing and community gathering spaces.

Alexandria will conduct a virtual public meeting on transportation and traffic management on Feb. 1.

Potential transportation improvements being considered near the Potomac Yard arena (image via Alexandria Economic Development Partnership)

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