Leaders Hope Wizards Training Facility in Shaw Could Lure Players to City Living

D.C. leaders are hoping a new multi-million dollar training facility for the Washington Wizards could bring big stars -- and money -- to the city.

News4's Mark Segraves broke the news on Twitter Friday afternoon.

The new facility, which would be housed on city-owned land near the Shaw Metro station in Northwest, would cost between $30 million and $40 million and seat approximately 5,000.


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The exact location is at 11th and Rhode Island streets NW, currently the site of a closed middle school, a dog park and a skate park. The city had budgeted $54 million to build a new middle school at the site of the old Shaw Middle School. 

Shaw residents say they're concerned they could lose a part of their community if the facility is built. 

"Sure, the idea that a facility could be incorporated into the community is interesting but you need to come in and talk the to the neighbors. This space is used 24/7 right now," Shaw resident Chris Sondreal said.

"I'm not a big fan of the idea and neither is my dog," Shaw resident Mark Glaze said.

Council member Jack Evans told News4 he's committed to rebuilding the middle school and preserving the dog and skate parks.

Right now, the Wizards practice at the Verizon Center -- the same venue they play their home games.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who also owns the NHL's Washington Capitals, said he wants to do what many other NBA teams are doing -- build a separate practice facility. Leonsis built a training facility for the Capitals several years ago in Arlington, Virginia.

Under the current plan, sources tell News4 the government would borrow money for construction which could be paid back most likely by an increased tax on tickets and concessions at Wizards games.

Fans aren't too thrilled about the price increases.

"I don't think it's a good idea at all," Eric Simms said. 

Fiscal watchdogs are also critical of the plans.

"There's a limit on how much the city can borrow every year, and we're close to that," Ed Lazeer with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute said. "If we borrow more money to pay for a training facility for the Wizards, that could make it harder to build a new library or a new school or a new fire station."

Officials are hoping the D.C. facility could lure new players -- like Seat Pleasant, Maryland native Kevin Durant -- into living and paying taxes in the city. Sources say city officials want the facility built as soon as possible.

When a superstar like Durant is brought into the equation, Simms was quick to change his mind.

"Well, if you're going to bring Durant to the team, then yes, I would do it ... it would be winning championship," he said.

Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser said she would like to "see the details" about the plan before she signs off.

"The Wizards have been great for us and downtown in Chinatown," she said. "It's always good to have facilities that attract sports and fans and tax dollars but we need to know what the tax payers are expected to put on the table as well."

There are at least two other competing plans for the practice facility in Northern Virginia -- one in Arlington and another in Tysons Square. 

If built, the facility could be used to host WNBA and high school basketball games.

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