• DC Mayor To Give $50 Million In Public Funds To Billionaire For WNBA Arena

    District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday the city struck a deal with the owner of the Washington Mystics and Wizards franchises that would see taxpayers footing 90 percent of the bill for a new practice facility and small arena for the teams.

    Bowser said at a press conference that the city did some “really great negotiating” to secure the arena deal with Ted Leonsis, the billionaire sports team owner.

    “This is a BFD, and for all the fans of Joe Biden, you know what that is,” Bowser told the crowd, referencing that time Biden was caught on an open microphone telling President Barack Obama his signing of the Obamacare law was a “big fucking deal.”

    Bowser thinks the new practice facility will act as a beacon of hope in the poorest corner of the city that will bring with it jobs, development and more entertainment opportunities.

    “Basketball is a vehicle for change in this ward and across this city,” Bowser said.

    The mayor was hesitant to say exactly how much the city will pay for the new WNBA arena, and dodged the issue all together in her prepared remarks.

    She said the city will directly contribute $23 million, Events DC, a quasi-governmental agency funded by tax payers will contribute “a little more,” and Leonsis will contribute “a little bit more.”

    Events DC, which is charged with building and operating the facility, will contribute $27 million. The billionaire Leonsis and his company, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, will chip in a paltry $5 million up front for rent and, according to Leonsis, will make a $10 million investment in charities and in the community throughout the length of the lease.

    After her speech, Bowser was asked if she thought the team owner was contributing enough in the deal, and again she side-stepped the question.

    “We negotiated a great deal,” she said.

    According to Bowser, the new practice facility will spur $4 million in new tax dollars annually, for a total of $90 million.

    Max Brown, the prominent Bowser lobbyist who now heads Events DC, agreed with Bowser, calling the new practice facility “unbelievably transformative.”

    “This facility is going to create jobs,” he said. “It’s a tremendous victory for all of us.”

    In order for Bowser to hit the $90 million number for new tax dollars, the facility would need to host at least 90 other events each year.

    Bowser said the site could play host to arts, cultural, entertainment events.

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