Wizards Training Facility Could be Coming to current home of Shaw Dog and Skate Parks at 11th and Rhode Island Ave, NW


Huge report from NBC Washington:

“The new facility, which would be housed on city-owned land near the Shaw Metro station in Northwest, would cost between $30 million and $40 million and seat approximately 5,000. The exact location is at 11th and Rhode Island streets NW, currently the site of dog and skate parks.”

Updates as/if this progresses.

87 Comment

  • The ANC commissioner for the area, Alex Padro, said he won’t vote for it if it will impact the Shaw Middle School renovation or green space. http://wamu.org/news/14/11/10/dc_considering_training_facility_for_washington_wizards_in_shaw

    • brookland_rez

      This is fine, but they need to rebuild the skatepark somewhere else (and hopefully make it better).

      • The local ANC rep can’t stop this from happening. That’s for darn sure.

        • You’re right. Who actually -is- responsible and who is doing the negotiating on behalf of the city? I’ve been wondering that for the last two days. No one seems to be taking responsibility.

    • Good. The skate park and basketball courts seem to be well used.

    • This is one of those situations where Alex’s roles are in conflict. He is an ANC rep who is supposed to protect the neighborhood’s interests, and he is President of Shaw Main Streets whose main focus is to bring business and development to the neighborhood. I wonder what Shaw Main Streets official stand is on this.

  • Why do you need 5000 seats at a training facility?

    • jim_ed

      Two reasons:

      1) It can serve a community use as a multi-purpose arena when not being used by the team.
      2) The more likely reason – it becomes the defacto home of the Washington Mystics for their regular season games.

    • Not that I support the idea, but the capitals practice rink in Arlington supports many many adult and youth leagues, learn to play, free skate, figure skating, and hockey-related youth activities. It also gives fans a chance to watch the team (and sometimes visiting teams) practice and scrimage and interact with the players. Would 5k fill it? Sounds aggressive, but the city could (would?) probably demand the facility be shared by the community as Arlington did with the caps. Youth and adult leagues, tournaments, charity events, etc..

      It might help the team recruit better free agents, but not sure why they think they would choose to live in the city when they don’t now….or why the former is worth tax dollars.

  • Another public-funded sports facility? No, thanks.

    Also, where’d they get the idea that a practice facility would entice better players to move to the team, that’s the dumbest line of reason I’ve ever heard.

    • +1. I’d buy the argument that a facility like this could boost spending in local establishments, but I find it hard to believe that players would decide to move to the neighborhood along with the facility.

    • Agreed. I’m tired of seeing public funds subsidizing for-profit sports facilities.

    • They’re not hoping the facility would attract better players to the team. They’re hoping that the facility would convince the team’s players to consider living in Washington. But given that they already practice in Washington it’s not clear that they’re being particularly realistic though.

    • It’s not dumb to want the practice court to attract players to team, as the more and more team’s are building state of the art practice facilities. In an article last year, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis described the building of these facilities to attract new players as an “arms races.” (see link below)

      That said, it is pretty dumb to think that the Wizards players would choose to live in the city simply because the practice court is located in the District. Even if the full team became DC taxpaying residents, I can’t imagine that tax revenue making up for the lost revenue of giving them the prime real estate.


      • Whether’s it’s dumb or not is irrelevant. If Ted wants to attract better players to the team he can foot the bill. Which he knows. Which is why there’s this ridiculous fig leaf of attracting players to live in the city” when, as others have pointed out, they ALREADY practice in the city.

    • Agreed. The revitalization of downtown and development on the waterfront following was horrible. I miss the strip clubs and drug markets that were uprooted

  • That’s a terrible idea. Exactly who came up with this idea?

  • Ugh. I would be so, so sad to see this dog park go. I spent 2 hours a day here when I lived in Dupont. I love that park and the community that formed around it. Also, there’s so little green space in that area already and isn’t a multi-use space a better community amenity than a practice facility.

  • Yeah, take away that skate park where a lot of kids hang out every day. Complete dick move.

  • I think the planners who came up with this have underestimated the political influence of dog owners.

  • This plan almost perfectly recreates the plot of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

  • Booo – bad idea. That skate park is ALWAYS busy with kids- leave it alone.

    Also – WTF- we can’t get a stadium for DC United ( the winningest sports team in DC) in SW where it would utilize currently unused land – but they want to subsidize a PRACTICE facility for the Bullets?!?!?

    • Media revenue and ticket sales, not winning percentage, is clearly the motivation here. DC United is great, but it’s a top 10ish team in a league that is not that great, to put it mildly. The Wizards are a top 15 team in the best basketball league in the world.

  • Even if there were nothing there at all right now, I wouldn’t want an NBA training facility. They are pretty dead 90% of the time. Just a big empty building with no foot traffic. Why any city would give up prime real estate for something like an NBA training facility is beyond me.

    The skate park, dog park and the new Shaw middle school take priority in my opinion.

  • Why tear down the only part of this 2 block area that is in use? Why not just tear down the abandoned school (part or all) that isn’t in use in order to build something new?

    • There’s been $54 million in the DC budget to tear down the middle school and build a new one. Supposed to open in 2021.

      I think the success of DC schools is about as tenuous as the success of the Wizards; just the same I think the land would be better used for a school.

  • This is an awful idea. My yellow lab would be very disappointed to lose his dog park.

  • This would be awesome! Would love to see that shitty skate park/basketball court go. It is an eye sore for the neighborhood and a waste of space.

    • You mean the most highly used community amenity for miles around? It gives kids (and adults) a constructive outlet for recreation. Do you really want to give kids in that neighborhood fewer things to do?

    • Totally, they should put in a tapas place instead. Those kids will find something else to do, I’m sure. Hopefully be less of an eyesore to me.

    • Though I no longer live in the neighborhood, I bike down to the Shaw skatepark at least once a week. It’s one of the few safe and sanctioned places in the city to skate, and the only one that’s big enough to accommodate the crowds (and it’s almost always crowded). It’s also lit at night, which is a huge advantage for older guys like me who work office jobs until it’s dark. I’d say the same probably goes for the dog park. Every time I’m at the skatepark I meet people who live outside of the city but come to Shaw to meet up and skate. I often, including this weekend, give impromptu skate lessons to kids trying to learn while their parents watch. Other times, I get to learn from the talented local kids. It’s the definition of a vital community asset.

      What this park needs is some maintenance, not an inconsistently used basketball arena.

      • Great post. I don’t skate but I live in the neighborhood and it seems like a great outlet for all- your post nails this.

    • I can only pray that this response is sarcasm.

    • Not an eyesore. Very well utilized facility providing positive benefit to the community. Would really be sorry to see this Wizards thing go through.

  • Seems implausible, its not a very good location for that kind of facility. Not a huge fan of the ugly skate park and shitty smelling dog park…but both are obviously well used. Do they want to encourage crowds and development in an already heavily residential area? Or was it just a case of “this is who is offering us the most money?”

  • Prediction: the Wizards get the space, the yuppies get a replacement dog park that’s bigger and better, and the skater kids are forced skate elsewhere, where the get harassed cops.

  • Getting rid of this dog park would be a travesty, and it’s not clear where else it can go in the area. It’s an amazing example of responsible citizens who have come together to meet a community need, and to see that taken away for a boondoggle like this would be truly awful

    • What about that currently boarded plot at 7th/RIA?

    • Both the dog and skatepark are huge assets to the community and are clearly the most well used aspects of the park. Dog owners and skate park supporters should come together on this one.

  • I Dont Get It

    If this facility is needed, and I’m not convinced it is, why build it in Shaw? Build it somewhere where it will spur economic development. Shaw is doing quite fine these days.

  • Ugh this idea sucks. I think they just want to get Mystics games out of the Verizon Center so they can make more $$$$ on other things.

    That skate park and basketball park are such a fun part of the neighborhood, that’s my metro stop and I love seeing kids and adults alike out there enjoying them every day. Why on earth would we want to replace that with some enormous building? I don’t mean to go all NIMBY on this but this is a residential area, this idea just makes no sense at all to me.

  • Does anybody have the intel on who is the brains of this shabby idea? Was it the lame duck mayor’s office? Shaw/Logan is residential and needs more parks, housing and schools. Whoever is the author of this idea does not have a keen understanding of their constituency and does not belong in public service.

  • I would be so upset if they take away the skate park from us. There are kids skating there all the time. What a horrible idea.

    • As someone (and adult) who skates at the park often, I appreciate your support and agree that this would be a big loss for the kids in the community.

  • Don’t do it!

  • This is BS. The city bears the cost for a facility for the Mystics and a practice facility while Verizon Center rakes in more money for “better” events. So would this be a DC owned and operated facility that is just rented for practice time and games? Or are the taxpayers just building something for a rich sports corporation? Either way, given the length and needs of both nba and wnba seasons, there will likely little if any use of this by anyone other than the teams. No win for anyone other than Leonsis and the deep pockets. The rational for this is so thin it is pretty much nonexistent.

    They are rich enough, let them buy the land and build it.

  • How is anyone against this? If the US ever expects to actually compete with Europe, we’re going to have to start investing in things like this. There’s a good reason why our team for the Quidditch World Cup is a total joke and that we’re not even allowed into the Triwizard tournament. We can’t complain about not being included in things like that if we don’t have candidates anywhere close to the level of those coming out of Hogwarts or Durmstrang. Being against this project is pretty shortsighted and will just put us that much further behind if you ask me.

  • There would be terrible. There is a lack of quality recreational spaces in DC as it is. Parks like these, offer residents one of the few chances to interact with their neighbors which further strengths the security and integrity of the community. The skate park is a terrific community asset and gives kids something to do besides drugs and crime. Though I no longer skateboard, I cannot overstate the positive impact that skateboarding has had on my life. There is no reason a training facility has to even be in the heart of a residential neighborhood. Why is it the politicians and planners always want to destroy the very best neighborhoods? Have we learned nothing from Jane Jacobs? Why not build this in the SW or SE, an area in desperate need of economic revitalization and a place where there are many lots whose land use could be changed without anyone in the district caring. Buzzard Point and Popular Point were talked about as locations for the DC United Stadium for example.

    Please do not cannibalize DC.

  • Why does the city continue to give away city land to sports teams? It seems crazy to me that land that belongs to the city residents is just handed over to private profit making companies like this…

  • Terrible idea. First off it’s pathetic to do this out of some desperate attempt to encourage a handful of athletes to live in DC. Besides id they are really well paid superstar athletes they aren’t going to want a penthouse somewhere in Shaw when they can have an estate in the suburbs. They don’t want people living across the street from them peeping into their windows. They want the privacy only a large plot of land affords. To them a walkable community is not desirable. Walking the street just means your going to get stopped every couple hundred feet by people who want autographs or asking to take selfies with you. They prefer being chauffered door-to-door to avoid that crap.

    Really, as others have noted, this is just a play by the owners of the Verizon Center to try to push out non-revenue practices and low-revenue WNBA games so they can get other events that will make more money into the building. Why should we surrender taxpayer land/money for that????

  • Why can’t they bring stuff like this to NE or SE where there are fewer entrenched interest on available space and where the potential economic benefits would be more appreciated.

  • When the moment comes for public comments or meetings, I’d love to capture some of the energy expressed here. I’ve set up an email to build a mailing list…please send your contact information and I’ll keep you informed as things develop.

    [email protected]

  • Oh HELL NO! The dog and skate parks actually bring (huge) community benefits to this neighborhood. Some stupid training facility will bring NOTHING. Train them out in the suburbs. Or, train them in the arena we ALREADY BUILT for them!
    This is the worst idea in the District since electing Marion Barry.

    • I agree on most of your points, but we did not build the arena for them. Abe Pollin built the arena in a shittastic neighborhood no one wanted to build in with his own money. DC gave him a break on the land lease, though. His investment has made this city hundreds of millions (I think, can’t remember the number I saw) in tax revenue.
      The city did give Pollin $50M for accessibility upgrades a few years ago, but that’s not much considering the money we’ve made off of it.
      I am against city financed stadiums. I really wish we build more using Pollin’s paradigm or at least without tax payer dollars. I’m just awaiting the train wreck that is the soccer stadium deal.

    • Perhaps your last statement was a flippant remark? While the later Barry terms were problematic on multiple levels, Barry was a charismatic and effective politician when he was initially elected. Among other things, Barry was instrumental in the efforts to gain Home Rule in DC, a critical step in allowing residents of the District to vote for local elected officials.

  • If this gets built, I’m sure there will be a replacement dog park that’s bigger and better. There’s a lot of money involved in a deal like this, and local establishments surely would benefit. There’s also a plan for ground floor retail. I don’t skate. I don’t have a dog. But I do live within 500 feet of this park, and I’d be interested in learning more about the plans.

    • I think the big reason a lot of people are frustrated is that this already sounds like it’s almost a done deal, but there are no formal plans, no forums to discuss the plan, nothing that would give people who live and work nearby any voice in the process. I’m totally open to hearing a proposal and potentially responding to it, but to present it as a fait accompli is undemocratic.

  • The dog park was always supposed to be temporary.

    • I looked and you’re right- it was only supposed to be around for 2 years and close in 2010 in order to expand the middle school. I had no idea. Still, replacing it with a training facility is a downgrade.

  • When I read the headline, I was excited. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t be excited to have a bunch of future wizards training in our fair city? Unfortunately, contextual clues led to to check the Googles, and I learnt that there is apparently a basketball team called the Wizards.

  • Don’t get rid of my skate park!!! What a retarded idea. Skate parks are not just for kids…also for adults. That is one of the most centrally located skate parks in the city. Loads of people and dogs use the Shaw dog park every day too. It’s always slammed. How about we throw this idea out and build the soccer stadium on unused land in SW instead!!! The wizards can practice in the Verizon center. Newsflash: The players definitely aren’t going to move into the city and pay butt loads of taxes so they can be next to practice.

  • If the city shells out money for this and not the DC United Stadium I will be very unhappy!

  • If they want to build an indoor facility for people to practice/exercise, how about for *residents*, instead of millionaires. Build a rec center with indoor swimming pool. And also keep skate park & dog park. Invest in amenities like that for the residents and DC treasury will make it up in higher property tax revenue.

    • This rec center with indoor pool is a brilliant idea! Rec center + cleaned up dog and skate park would be an amazing addition to the neighborhood!

  • I really hope this doesn’t happen. As a user of the shaw dog park almost daily I can say that there really are no comparable parks for big dogs to run within walking distance. Shaw is by far the largest dog park in this area and well maintained by a great community. This is a very dog friendly neighborhood with lots of sweet well behaved pups, and if people want it to stay that way there needs to be an area for dogs to run and an outlet for them to release excess energy. Not only that but if this park were to close the nearest parks (dupont, columbia heights, and bundy) are far too small to accommodate the amount of dogs that come to this one. Does anyone have any recs for who to contact to voice protest over this?

    • Shaw Guy is leading a group effort here. If you’d like to join us, contact [email protected]

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