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Letter: Failure of arena deal doesn't mean an end to vigilance

'I’m not reassured that other mega-wealthy types are not eying our area for a new sports palace.'

To the editor: "And down goes Leonsis! And Youngkin!"

Riffing off the late Howard Cosell’s description of George Foreman knocking down Joe Frazier in their 1973 heavyweight boxing title fight, the same might be said of the demise of the plan by Ted Leonsis and Gov. Youngkin for a new Potomac Yard sports arena.

Their fiasco represents another unsuccessful attempt by billionaires like Leonsis to put massive sports stadiums in Arlington and Alexandria.

First, there was crusty old Jack Kent Cooke’s plan in 1992 to move his Washington pro football team from D.C. to the Potomac Yard neighborhood.

News reports said the late billionaire Cooke had signed an agreement with then-Gov. Douglas Wilder for a $150 million, 78,600-seat stadium on the state-controlled Potomac Yard site that would have taken the team out of RFK Memorial Stadium where it had played since 1960.

But several months later, protests by Alexandria residents killed what former U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (also a former Alexandria mayor) termed a “rotten deal.”

Then in the early 2000s, other rich moguls attempted to relocate the then Montreal Expos baseball team to what is now called PenPlace in the Pentagon City area of Arlington.

Led by a grass-roots group of local citizens who called themselves “No Arlington Stadium,” their efforts led to that plan striking out. Eventually, the Nationals moved into RFK Stadium before relocating to a new baseball park in Southeast D.C.

Now the Leonsis-Youngkin deal has gone up in smoke.

As a resident of the Crystal City area in Arlington next door to Pentagon City, I’m not reassured that other mega-wealthy types are not eying our area for a new sports palace.

I’m thinking specifically of the Washington Commanders football, team which is looking for a new home after its lease expires in 2027 at what was called until very recently FedEx Field in Landover.

The billionaire team’s owner is reportedly deciding between Virginia, D.C., and Maryland on where to put his new stadium.

Sites in Virginia are said to be either in Sterling, Woodbridge or Dumfries. But I wouldn’t put it past the team’s owners that they might also be eyeing Potomac Yard as a garden spot for the Commanders.

There was a lot of whoop-de-do that hailed the announcements of those previously proposed new stadium plans in Arlington and Alexandria before they all went crashing down to ignominious defeat. So all I can say to anyone thinking about Potomac Yard or Arlington as their new playgrounds: in more ways than one – don’t even go there.

Eric Green, Arlington