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Reactions were swift after reports last week that the city government and the Washington Wizards were in discussions to build a $30 million to $40 million practice facility in Shaw. Some neighbors, like Alex Padro, who represents that portion of Shaw on the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said they couldn’t support any plan that would compromise the green space or dog and skate parks on the site:
Clinton Yates wrote in a Washington Post column, “The Wizards should leave Shaw alone. They already have a place to practice. It’s called the Verizon Center.” Incoming Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen told Yates that “the conversation seems to have started with what the Wizards want rather than what Shaw needs.”
And this morning, Mayor Vince Gray spoke favorably of the concept of a Wizards practice facility in D.C., without specifically addressing the Shaw site. “I think it would be a great idea to have a practice facility in the District of Columbia,” he said, “and I frankly think that over time it’ll pay for itself.”
But when it comes to the furious debate over the potential Shaw facility in recent days, the principal reaction in the Gray administration has been befuddlement.
“We have absolutely no idea where this is coming from,” says a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record. “Our understanding is, a councilmember started talking to the press about it for no apparent reason. We have no idea what that councilmember hoped to achieve by starting that conversation. There’s no there there.” The official wouldn’t publicly identify which councilmember allegedly started the whole thing.
According to multiple sources in the administration, talks with the Wizards have been taking place since before the start of the year, and there’s been no recent progress. Gray does not expect to make any announcements on it before he hands the mayoralty over to Muriel Bowser in January.
So Kevin Durant, don’t plan your move to the District quite yet. This thing’s still in a preliminary and mostly hypothetical stage, as it has been for months.
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