Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis recently stated his desire for a state-of-the-art basketball practice complex.
Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray believes that is a swell idea, especially if the facility is built in the District.
“We want to work with him to see if there’s something we can possibly have done," Gray told the Washington Post, while confirming the Mayor and owner have discussed the matter. "There are other cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, L.A., who all have done practice facilities. I’ve looked at some of the data around what they have done. They range anywhere from like $15 [million] to $25 million in cost. The question is what is the relationship of the city to the teams that are involved? But I’d love to see them have that … facility in the city.”
Gray did not reveal any specific locations for construction while Leonsis is reportedly open to spots in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The Capitals, also owned by Leonsis, have a separate practice facility in Ballston. Meanwhile, the Wizards use a cramped practice court inside the Verizon Center, the same court used by the Washington Mystics, the same court used for pre-draft workouts.
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According to another Post report, Leonsis would like to complete the project by 2017 and have the location near public transportation. Assume the latter is for fan access, not so Nene can take the Metro to work.
Such news doesn't move the sports conversation needle like a trade, signing, hiring or firing. However, such moves are indeed key when it comes to perception and ultimately much of pro sports is a sales job. If future free agents and even pundits see a team with all the needed bells and whistles, they will view that team as viable. With John Wall and Bradley Beal in the mix, the Wizards already have the look of a team on the rise. Adding brand new practice digs can only help.
Mayor Gray would likely add that putting the practice pad near the Verizon Center would help even more.