Still Mayor Vince Gray just wants to shoot hoops—-or at least profit from those who do. At a press conference this morning, he offered tentative support for building a Wizards practice facility in the District, but shied away from backing a proposed location in Shaw as the site for it.
“I don’t think that there are any solid plans on the table at this stage,” Gray said. “But I think it would be a great idea to have a practice facility in the District of Columbia, and I frankly think that over time it’ll pay for itself.”
The proposed practice facility at the 900 block of Rhode Island Ave. NW would likely take up community space in Shaw, including a dog park, basketball courts, and a skate park. Incoming Ward 6 councilmember Charles Allen is wary, but maybe he doesn’t have to be. Gray says there is no “serious proposal” yet about the hypothetical practice facility’s location.
The deal would reportedly be financed by a tax on Wizards tickets. But when Gray says the facility would pay for itself, he has his eyes on another source of revenue for the city: players’ income taxes. Gray pointed to Pigskins and Capitals’ practice sites outside the District as a reason that their players live outside the city. (Of course, with the Wizards currently practicing in the Verizon Center, the team’s stars still opt for seven-figure mansions outside in the ‘burbs.)
In other Gray pro sports legacy developments, Gray defended swapping the Reeves Center as part of the D.C. United stadium deal, a week after a D.C. Council report found that the District would overpay around $25 million on the package. While city administrator Allen Lew says his negotiation team has considered a deal that wouldn’t include the Reeves Center (albeit with an unclear level of interest from developer Akridge), Gray says the aging Reeves Center will cost the city money even if it stays.
“There’s going to have to be major investments made in the Reeves Center if it continues to function as it is now,” Gray said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery