Transportation Upgrade for Potomac Yard Arena Will Cost Up to $215 Million

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, February 24, 2024.

On February 1, 2024 the state of Virginia released a report on needed transportation improvements in and around the new sports arena planned for Potomac Yard. The cost: up to $215M for capital improvements and up to $7.5M for additional Metrorail service.

The $200M in transportation capital improvements is in addition to the $2.8 billion for bonds and debt service to finance construction of the arena and other nearby amenities. That amounts to $3B for which the public is in hock.

Such an enormous expenditure to move an existing sports facility across the river should give the General Assembly pause. But no. On February 13, 2024 the House of Delegates voted to approve the sports authority needed to finance the deal, proving that the delegation is at least as gullible as it is ignorant of the state’s limited bonding authority.

For example, Jeffrey McKay, Chairman of Fairfax County BOS reported “the Commonwealth is failing students in every part of Virginia by chronically underfunding local K-12 public schools. We trail the 50-state average, the regional average, and three border states – [West Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky] – in per-pupil funding.”

The bond money that is going to the Arena is money that will not be going to Virginia schools. Potomac Yard Metrorail expansion will ADD to not REDUCE WMATA’s $700M shortfall.

Justifying diversion of state bond authority to the Arena requires a regional cost benefit analysis. Since Alexandria city officials won’t do it, I call upon Arlington County Board to ask Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to do the analysis and issue a report.