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Northern Virginia state legislators criticize Gov. Youngkin’s handling of Potomac Yard arena

(Left to right) Virginia Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-39), Del. Charniele Herring (D-46), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-3) and Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-45) speak at the Chamber ALX Legislative Breakfast at the Hilton Old Town, March 21, 2024 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Virginia House Majority Leader Del. Charniele Herring (D-46) said that the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal is in no man’s land and that she doesn’t see a path forward for it.

Herring, who voted yes in the House of Delegates version of the arena bill last month, criticized Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s handling of the issue. She was joined this morning by members of Northern Virginia’s delegation to the General Assembly at the Chamber ALX’s legislative breakfast.

Herring said that without “proper” financing of transportation and other infrastructure issues that she didn’t see a deal happening.

“As I see it today, I just don’t see it happening,” Herring said. “Unless there’s some sort of movement or some other discussions happening.”

The project to move the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals to a new entertainment district in Potomac Yard was dealt a decisive blow earlier this month when the state legislature refused to include it in its fiscal year 2025 budget.

Herring criticized Youngkin for conducting press conferences on the arena issue instead of negotiating with members of the General Assembly.

“He needs to be sitting down with legislators who ultimately are going to make that decision, not having rallies around the state with press conferences,” Herring said. “It does nobody any good.”

The statements follow recent news that Monumental Sports & Entertainment owner Ted Leonsis reportedly spoke with Maryland Governor Wes Moore about moving the arena to Maryland.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-3) said that Youngkin has not engaged in negotiations with members of the General Assembly.

“It’s sort of been a ‘my way or the highway’ sort of thing,” Lopez said. “The governor hasn’t negotiated, really. He hasn’t really been involved in getting in the weeds with the folks in the State Senate and State House.”

Lopez continued, “I want to get to yes, on this project. I want to see this project work. We just need to make sure that everyone’s at the table, that the governors at the table, that we can actually negotiate on some of the broader policy issues and get to what we need to see, especially about transportation/transit, especially about Metro.”

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-39) said that the project is dead and that without a bill to work with, Youngkin has to start over legislatively. He also said that the makeup of the proposed Virginia Stadium Authority board, which would own and finance the arena, needs more representation from Alexandria.

City Council Member John Taylor Chapman said that the city needs a stronger partnership with the General Assembly.

“What transportation, housing and small business funding will they be working to bring to the city once they let this fail in Richmond?” Chapman said.

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