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D.C. Attorney General says Monumental’s Potomac Yard arena plans breach legal obligations

Monumental Sports President Ted Leonsis, Dec. 13, 2 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Updated 3/23 — A spokesperson from Monumental Sports and Entertainment responded “We fundamentally disagree with the Attorney General’s opinions, which are contradicted by the DC General Counsel as recently as 2019 when the city ratified the Ground Lease.”

Even as Monumental Sports and Entertainment faces an uncertain future for its Potomac Yard plans, D.C. could be throwing a new legal challenge into the mix, Washington City Paper first reported.

The letter from D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb said that D.C. publicly financed $50 million in extensive improvements to the current arena in Chinatown in 2007, ten years after it opened, and part of that agreement was a condition to play home games at the arena through 2047.

“The Council expressly conditioned that public financing on [DC Arena LP’s] commitment to extend the original ground lease for an additional 20 years, thereby ensuring the District and its taxpayers that the Wizards and the Capitals would continue to play their home games at the arena through 2047,” Schwalb said.

Schwalb went on to say the 2007 legislation did not authorize [DC Arena LP] to extinguish or revoke the lease extensions upon prepayment of the outstanding bond debt.

Schwalb said D.C.’s conclusion is Monumental Sports and Entertainment is obligated to keep the Wizards and Capitals at the arena through 2047.

“I am advising you that the District does not agree with your legal conclusion that MSE’s proposed arena move to Virginia does not violate or breach its legal obligations to the District,” the letter said. “To be clear, the District very much prefers not to pursue any potential claims against MSE. It remains committed to maintaining and growing its partnership with MSE and to keeping the Wizards and Capitals at the arena until the end of the existing lease term in 2047, if not beyond.”

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