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Alexandria Chamber of Commerce endorses Potomac Yard arena plan

Rendering of outdoor plaza at Monumental Arena development (image courtesy of JBG SMITH)

While the Potomac Yard arena has faced a significant amount of scorn and public scrutiny, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce threw its support behind the arena.

In a release, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce — also called Chamber ALX — said the arena is a positive opportunity for the city.

“As long time supporters of development at Potomac Yard, The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce believes this project is the right choice for the site and will be a catalyst of economic growth in our city for years to come,” the organization said in a release.

The Chamber ALX praised the arena’s economic impact, saying the 30,000 jobs created by the project and 9 million square feet in development would be a boon.

The project has taken a lot of flack for the levels of traffic it would bring to the area, along with concerns about the city’s financial arrangement with Monumental Sports & Entertainment chairman and CEO Ted Leonsis.

Last week, the city showed plans to address concerns about traffic on Route 1 and the Potomac Yard Metro station. The current station, which regional leaders acknowledged cannot handle arena traffic, would see crowding for 60-90 minutes after events, a report said. If the previously announced upgrades manifest, that could go down to 30-45 minutes of crowding.

The full release from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce is shared below:

In the coming months, Alexandrians have the opportunity to fundamentally shape the future of our city. The announcement of the opportunity for a world class entertainment district at Potomac Yard promises to achieve the goal of maximizing that site.

As long time supporters of development at Potomac Yard, The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce believes this project is the right choice for the site and will be a catalyst of economic growth in our city for years to come.

As noted on the project’s website, the economic and community impact would include 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, 9+ million square foot entertainment district, including new hotels, retail, residential, restaurants, conference, and community gathering spaces, and roughly 2.5 times the economic output of what would otherwise be built based on current development plans.

The Alexandria Chamber and its member businesses cannot ignore the practical impact of this type of investment in our city.

Further, Alexandria needs to attract innovative projects that expand our tax base. A commercial project such as this would broaden the tax base while allowing the city to maximize other sites around the city.

It is important to note the Potomac Yard site was always designed to accommodate 20,000 people per day; while this new vision shifts how those individuals show up it remains the right location for large scale development aligned with the Small Area Plan. In addition, there is language in the Master Plan that envisions an entertainment district as a preferred use for the site.

This monumental opportunity is a reminder to the Commonwealth and the region of what we have long known, our city is a great place to live, work and raise a family. We know there are many important conversations to be had, specifically around the impacts to quality of life, transportation, and underserved populations in our community, and we look forward to participating in those conversations. But the fact remains this project is a once in a generation opportunity that Alexandria should not let pass us by.

We call on the General Assembly to approve the adoption of a Sports and Entertainment Authority, with reasonable legislative oversight, so that Alexandria can get to work on investing in the future of our city.

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