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With a half-billion dollar deal to modernize and expand Capital One Arena in place, the Washington Capitals are now mulling their future at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.

ARLnow has learned that the team recently started talking to Arlington County about potential modernizations and improvements to the 137,000 square foot, county-owned facility. The Iceplex opened in 2006 and serves as the Caps’ official NHL practice facility and headquarters, as well as the home ice for college, high school and beer league hockey teams.

The facility — at the top of the Ballston public parking garage and accessible from elevators at Ballston Quarter mall — is open to the public and also hosts public skates, skating and hockey lessons, birthday parties and camps.

“The Capitals are pleased to call MedStar Capitals Iceplex our official practice facility,” the Capitals’ head of communications, Sergey Kocharov, said in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.

“We are in early discussions with Arlington County to explore ways to keep the facility up to date and modern and to improve the fan, player, employee, and community experience at our practice facility in the future,” he said.

The discussions are “in the early stages” and there is “no timeline as of yet” for any potential decisions or actions, Kocharov said.

Arlington County spokesman Ryan Hudson confirmed that the county is talking with the team about the future of the Iceplex.

“We look forward to continuing discussions,” he said.

When team owner Ted Leonsis announced in December that the Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards would move to a new arena to be constructed in Alexandria, the plans included an adjacent practice facility.

From ARLnow’s reporting at the time:

In today’s announcement, the expansion into Alexandria did not explicitly mention relocating the Capital’s practice facility from Ballston, though it was included in a map of the planned development.

Arlington County says Monumental has indicated it intends to negotiate a renewed lease in Ballston — even with the planned arena in Potomac Yard — as it prefers to separate practice facilities and administrative offices from their arena.

A Monumental spokesperson told ARLnow where the Caps practice is one of many details that still need to be finalized, emphasizing that the Iceplex in Ballston is a state-of-the-art facility. The spokesperson said Monumental might renovate the second-floor office space to serve as the front office and athlete space after the business staff move to Potomac Yard, but it is also exploring building a new practice facility at Potomac Yard.

Since then, of course, the Alexandria arena deal collapsed and the teams agreed to remain at Capital One Arena in D.C. with extensive modernizations and a potential expansion into adjacent Gallery Place for a Wizards practice facility.

“Under the agreement, if feasible, Monumental would aim to build a new practice facility for the Wizards in the Gallery Place office tower — a neighboring retail center that has been half-vacant for months,” the Washington Post reported. “If that doesn’t work out, the company could explore building the practice facility at other D.C. locations, including the RFK Stadium complex.”

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Nearly 50 youth hockey players with disabilities took to the ice in Ballston this week to sharpen their skills with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday, members of the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) convened at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex to spend several hours learning various skating techniques and skills from Ovechkin and other Capitals players, including Aliaksei Protas, Matthew Phillips and Alexander Alexeyev.

Ovi has been hosting this Caps-sponsored clinic for ASHA — which supports individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities through hockey — for a decade, though it took a hiatus during the pandemic.

“Ovechkin has been an ASHA ambassador since the first skate in 2014 and most recently made a donation to the ASHA to help cover ice costs for 136 special hockey teams across the United States,” per a Capitals press release. “The donation supported more than 5,260 athletes and nearly 400 coaches.”

ASHA Executive Director Jennifer O’Brien told ARLnow that while the donation was vital for the organization, Ovechkin’s personal commitment — in terms of time, money and energy — is especially significant.

“The big thing people should know is that sometimes people donate things and they kind of do it through the organization or whatever,” O’Brien said. “He does this personally. And so we take it personally and appreciate him for that reason.”

Established in 2007, ASHA currently serves over 8,000 members, representing 136 special hockey teams nationally. There are three ASHA teams in the D.C. area, per the release.

Most ASHA members who attended the clinic came from either the D.C. region or other East Coast locales, said O’Brien.

In addition to his work with ASHA, Ovechkin established “Ovi’s 8’s” in 2006, a program dedicated to providing tickets to Capitals games for underprivileged children.

“Since then, more than 5,700 individuals have had a chance to see a game free of charge, including many ASHA participants,” the team said.

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Ballston might remain the place where the Washington Capitals practice if everything goes to plan and the hockey team begins playing games in a newly announced sports arena in Potomac Yard.

The new arena for the Caps and Washington Wizards, as well as a concert venue, could open as soon as 2028 in the Alexandria neighborhood already seeing heavy investment, including a new Metro station and Virginia Tech’s forthcoming Innovation Campus.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Monumental Sports & Entertainment owner Ted Leonsis, the city of Alexandria and developer JBG Smith officially confirmed the murmurings of a move today (Wednesday), to which county officials and business leaders reacted with excitement.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey called the news an “excellent opportunity for Arlington to continue to partner with Alexandria” and, in a statement, said that “it further cements our region among the world’s most innovative and dynamic places to live, play, and do business.”

But whether the Caps continue to practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, adjoining the Ballston Quarter mall, is just one of the moving pieces with impacts on Arlington, should the project move forward.

Another concern — top-of-mind for residents around Richmond Hwy (Route 1) — is what the new facility will mean for state plans to bring the key north-south artery to grade, which was part of a suite of transportation projects promised if Amazon settled in Pentagon City.

In today’s announcement, the expansion into Alexandria did not explicitly mention relocating the Capital’s practice facility from Ballston, though it was included in a map of the planned development.

Arlington County says Monumental has indicated it intends to negotiate a renewed lease in Ballston — even with the planned arena in Potomac Yard — as it prefers to separate practice facilities and administrative offices from their arena.

A Monumental spokesperson told ARLnow where the Caps practice is one of many details that still need to be finalized, emphasizing that the Iceplex in Ballston is a state-of-the-art facility. The spokesperson said Monumental might renovate the second-floor office space to serve as the front office and athlete space after the business staff move to Potomac Yard, but it is also exploring building a new practice facility at Potomac Yard.

Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, is optimistic the team will stick around. She spoke highly of the Capitals, who she called great supporters of Ballston for the 17 years they have practiced there.

“We can’t help but draw parallels between the evolution of Ballston, the Capitals, and Monumental Sports & Entertainment; and while there are still moving pieces, we couldn’t be happier for the Leonsis family, the Capitals organization, and the MSE team,” she told ARLnow in a statement.

“When the Capitals were looking for an urban setting with access, an amenity-rich neighborhood, and a community their players and coaches wanted to call home, they chose Ballston. Nearly two decades later, we’re proud Ballston continues to be all those things and more,” she continued. “We’ve been fortunate to have such a globally recognized, highly visible organization contribute to Ballston’s growing identity and culture.”

Monumental is similarly keeping a foot in both camps, for now, in D.C. In a letter to fans, circulating on social media, Leonsis said he hopes Capital One Arena and downtown D.C. “remain an essential part of our future.”

He said the company plans to invest in the existing arena so it can continue hosting large-scale events, from concerts to WNBA games and college sports. In the hours leading up to today’s announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled legislation to support a complete, $500 million renovation of the Capital One Arena, if the NHL and NBA team stay.

While some NHL teams opt to keep games and practices under one roof, others maintain separate facilities for games and practices. Sometimes, this is out of necessity, if the location for games cannot accommodate practices. Other teams, however, view practice spaces as a way to engage the community and, with the right amenities, to help lure free agents.

The Iceplex, for instance, holds open practices that fans can watch as well as youth clinics, and it has served as a springboard for Monumental, which has also sponsored community events and invested in local organizations.

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The Washington Capitals and Wizards are planning to move to Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

The announcement was made this morning in tents set up next to the Potomac Yard Metro entrance, where a new sports arena and entertainment complex is planned — about a half mile from the Arlington border.

More from our sister site ALXnow:

The project will be adjacent to the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in the Alexandria portion of National Landing — the collective term for Potomac Yard, Crystal City and Pentagon City.

“After many years of dreaming, many years of discussion, I’m pleased to announce that right here, in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, we have a plan to unleash a brighter, more extraordinary future,” said [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin. “We will build a spectacular $2 billion dollar sports and entertainment district.”

[Team owner Ted] Leonsis said the move to Virginia is a “transformative step forward.”

“I have always believed there is a higher calling in sports — to unify our community, build a lasting legacy over multiple generations, and lift all our neighbors towards a shared sense of prosperity,” Leonsis said. “Today, we deepen that commitment as we enter a phase of rapid expansion in service to our fans, employees, and partners.”

Leonsis said starting a new stadium with a sense of tabula rasa was a big part of Potomac Yard’s appeal.

“When I saw 70 acres and the ability to start with a clean slate… to build a digital first experience, it really is a very romantic but also pragmatic vision that we can’t do anywhere else,” Leonsis said. “I got goosebumps again when I came here a week ago and looked at all of the expansion capabilities.”

As part of the deal, the construction and ownership of the arena would be overseen by a new Virginia stadium authority, and the arena would be leased to Monumental.

“Subject to legislative approval by the Virginia General Assembly, the Entertainment District will break ground in 2025 and open in late 2028,” said a press release from the governor’s office.

ARLnow is working to learn more about what this will mean for Arlington, from plans for changes to Route 1 to the Capitals practice facility moving from the Iceplex in Ballston.

In the meantime, we were wondering whether the move from Chinatown in D.C. to Potomac Yard will drive more game day attendance from Arlington residents. Do you think you will go to more games at an Alexandria facility, compared to your current attendance at Capital One Arena?

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Washington Capitals team headquarters in Ballston on Tuesday evening (staff photo)

A plan for a new arena for the Washington Capitals and Wizards in Potomac Yard is likely to be announced tomorrow.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has confirmed that he will be coming to “announce a remarkable economic development project for the Commonwealth” at the future development site just a half mile south of the Arlington border.

The announcement is scheduled for 9 a.m., according to an advisory from the governor’s office, which otherwise does not specify what will be announced. A series of white tents has been set up near the entrance to the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

Temporary event tents set up near the Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria (staff photo by James Cullum)

Update at 8:45 a.m. — It’s official: an arena and practice facility for the Capitals and the Wizards is coming to Potomac Yard. ARLnow is asking about what this means for the future of the Iceplex in Ballston.

Earlier: The Washington Post reported Monday that Virginia lawmakers approved a deal to bring a new arena for the NHL and NBA teams to Northern Virginia — specifically, “anchoring a massive mixed-use development in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.”

The Washington Business Journal reported today (Tuesday) that team owner Ted Leonsis would be joined by Youngkin at a Wednesday morning announcement, “suggesting a deal to bring the Washington Wizards and Capitals across the river is imminent even as D.C. continues to negotiate an agreement to keep them downtown.”

Tonight, ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Wednesday’s event would “unveil plans for a proposed new arena complex and entertainment district for Wizards and NHL’s Capitals.”

Local officials contacted by ARLnow and sister site ALXnow declined to talk on the record prior to tomorrow’s announcement, though several confirmed that they would be at the event.

Potomac Yard is part of the area — along with Crystal City and Pentagon City — dubbed National Landing at the time of Amazon’s HQ2 announcement in 2018. That announcement included plans for a Virginia Tech Innovation Campus at Potomac Yard, just south of Arlington.

Virginia Tech signs could be seen today on the white tents at the announcement site.

Potomac Yard, best known for the sprawling strip shopping center and parking lot, is expected to undergo a major redevelopment in the coming years, following the opening of the Metro station earlier this year.

The Capitals leaving Capital One Arena in Chinatown would be a significant economic development blow to D.C., but it would in a way be a homecoming for the team.

The Caps’ team headquarters and practice facility has been based at the Capitals Iceplex in Ballston since 2006, and many players live in Arlington and elsewhere in Northern Virginia. No outward sign of a significant announcement could be seen at the Iceplex this evening.

Jo DeVoe, James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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Washington Capitals will host 2023 charity “garage sale” at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston (courtesy of Washington Capitals)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.)Looking to score some Washington Capitals gear and give back?

The hockey team is hosting its first-ever charity “garage sale” this Saturday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston, featuring everything from bobbleheads to T-shirts, posters and hats. Players will not have personal items for sale, we’re told.

The credit card-only sale is open to members of the general public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. but season ticket holders will have early access from 10-11 a.m.

All proceeds will benefit the team’s charitable arm, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, and its “work in the community with nonprofit partners from across the region,” team spokeswoman Megan Eichenberg said.

This includes the “Family-to-Family” program, where the team “adopts” families in need, and “KABOOM!,” which has built 11 new playgrounds in the D.C. area since 2013 with support from the foundation.

Today (Monday), the same foundation also announced it would be donating $75,000 across nine nonprofits that work to make hockey in the D.C. area more diverse.

Before or after perusing the garage sale, Eichenberg said fans will be able to watch the Caps practice ahead of the season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena on Friday, Oct. 13.

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MedStar Capitals Iceplex (via Monumental Sports and Entertainment)

Could Arlington one day be the home of the Capitals and the Wizards?

The Washington Post says talks to build a new arena in the National Landing area, not far from Amazon’s HQ2, are underway — but are in the early stages. The talks come as Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the NHL and NBA franchises, contemplates leaving Capital One Arena in D.C. after the expiration of a lease clause in 2027.

“MSE executives have also talked to Virginia government officials about relocating the Capitals and Wizards from downtown D.C. to Northern Virginia, near Amazon’s new HQ2, according to three people with knowledge of the situation, who were not authorized to speak publicly about negotiations,” the Post reported Friday. “Two people familiar with the talks, including a Monumental official, described them as preliminary and exploratory.”

“If Monumental were to leave for Virginia, it would follow Amazon into a neighborhood boosters have renamed ‘National Landing,’ which has already started experiencing rapid transformation,” the Post’s article adds. “The move would be a major economic development win for both Arlington County and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who has been mulling a 2024 presidential bid.”

It’s unclear where a new arena might go in the largely built-out neighborhood. The long-vacant PenPlace site, once contemplated as a possible landing spot for a Washington Nationals stadium before the team committed to D.C., is set to become the second phase of HQ2. That project, including the signature “Helix” building, is delayed but local officials expect it to get underway next year.

Another plot of land just to the west of PenPlace, however, is set for redevelopment, across from the Pentagon City Metro station, and located on a pair of high-capacity roads near I-395.

The Capitals already have a presence in Arlington — the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston hosts the hockey team’s training facility and team offices.

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It may not be regulation hockey rink size, but off-ice hockey drills could easily take place inside the rec room of a Ballston home that is now up for sale, with a notable seller.

After working up a sweat, you could grab a drink from the wet bar in the room or make a post-workout snack in the kitchen, outfitted with high-end appliances.

Such uses would be a fitting tribute to former Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, the soon-to-be former owner. He agreed to part ways with the team this summer and is selling his 7-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom home in walking distance of the Ballston Metro station.

The home at 608 N. Vermont Street hit the market today (Thursday) with a price tag of nearly $2.7 million. The listing on Redfin says the house is already “popular,” garnering north of 1,100 views this morning.

Realtor Danielle Johnson tells ARLnow she has a public open house scheduled for Saturday from 1-3 p.m.

“Obviously, the property in general is so special,” she says. “When they moved in, everything was almost complete. It was a custom built home and then, they came in and they added some amazing features.”

The Laviolettes extended out their paved driveway and added an interior and exterior security system, with an electric security gate, she said. They added custom closets, electric blinds and updated the landscaping, among other changes.

“So even though the house was unbelievable when they bought it, they put a lot of their own money into it with upgrades,” she said. “The Laviolettes left before they were really ready or hoping to, but that’s hockey.”

Laviolette and his wife, Kristen, bought the custom house in the fall of 2020, when it was almost complete and added those finishing touches. Johnson says it was their first “empty-nester” home, with few signs of wear and tear that come with kids.

“It is the first home they lived in while coaching with all the kids out of the house,”  she said. “They were excited to live closer to the city and out of the suburbs. They wanted to be able to walk to restaurants and shops.”

And, a year in, they told NBC Sports it felt like they were finally settling into the 28th home the family had lived in throughout Peter’s career. Before the Capitals, he coached the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers.

The real estate adage “location, location, location” was never more true than for the couple. From their Ballston digs, the head coach walked or took a bike to work every day, says Johnson.

“It’s steps away from Ballston Quarter,” she said. “It’s such an awesome location because you still get the feel of a neighborhood with all the beautiful homes around you but then you are literally a one-minute walk to Ballston Quarter and then to the Metro.”

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MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston (via Monumental Sports and Entertainment)

More than 800 Arlington Public Schools students are being invited to a special Washington Capitals practice later this week.

Caps star Alexander Ovechkin scored his 802nd career goal last month, passing Gordie Howe on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Now APS students will help Ovie celebrate the achievement.

“Ovechkin scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season and the 802nd of his career Dec. 23 against the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena, passing Howe (801) for second place on the NHL’s all-time goals list,” the Caps said in a press release. “Ovechkin now only trails Wayne Gretzky (894) for the most goals in NHL history.”

“To celebrate the historic milestone, Ovechkin will host more than 800 children from Arlington Public Schools for a celebration at the Capitals Jan. 13 practice,” the press release continued. “Fourth- through fifth-grade students from five Arlington schools will be in attendance at practice. All students will receive special Ovi 800 T-shirts from Ovechkin and the Capitals. Leading up to the visit, the classes will participate in 800-related number activities in their physical education and other classes, such as math and reading.”

Students will take photos with Ovechkin after Friday’s skate, the Capitals said.

It’s one of several community initiatives launched by the team to help mark the milestone, including a donation to the American Special Hockey Association, programming at local ice rinks, and Ovechkin granting “multiple wishes later this season through wish-granting organizations.”

Contacted by ARLnow, a Washington Capitals spokesperson declined to saw which APS schools are among the five that have been invited to the event.

“We are not disclosing which schools are attending,” the spokesperson said.

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Capitals practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex (via Monumental Sports and Entertainment)

Oakridge Elementary will get to cheer on the Washington Capitals heading into the playoffs.

More than 280 third through fifth grade students will participate in a pep rally at the Arlington Ridge school tomorrow (Friday), just days before teams begin facing off for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The event, dubbed “Soar to the Playoffs,” is being organized by the Caps and sponsored by Boeing, which has its D.C. headquarters in nearby Crystal City. The event will run from noon to 1 p.m. and feature street hockey, as well as an appearance from Caps mascot Slapshot.

As the season winds down and playoff matchups are firming up, there’s news swirling around Alexander Ovechkin’s injury and ability to start in the playoffs. He sat out of Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders. The team is set to play the Islanders again tonight at 7 p.m. on Long Island.

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The Washington Capitals are hosting a women’s hockey tournament and a series of clinics at the Capitals’ practice facility in Ballston next month.

The four game showcase from the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), part of the association’s “Dream Gap Tour,” will take place from March 4-6 at the Medstar Capital Iceplex on N. Glebe Road. It will feature teams from Minnesota, Boston, Calgary, and Toronto. This is the sixth stop for the tour, but the first time in the D.C. area.

The intention of the tournament is to bring attention to the “dream gap” that exists for young girls who want to play hockey.

“Essentially, a boy can lace up his skates and dream of playing in the NHL one day whereas young girls don’t have a league that pays a livable wage where they can solely focus on hockey to dream about,” a PWHPA spokesperson tells ARLnow about why this is an important program. “There’s a dream gap that exists that we’d like to close for girls.”

This is also part of the Capitals’ ALL CAPS ALL HER initiative with the aim of providing access and support for female hockey players across the region. There are 5,332 registered youth hockey players in Virginia, according to statistics provided by the Capitals, with only about 12% of those players being female.

“The Capitals are committed to continuing to grow the game at all levels, which includes youth and female hockey. The D.C. region has seen phenomenal interest and growth in hockey participation over the last decade-plus, and we’re proud to play a part in that development through initiatives like the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour,” Peter Robinson, the Caps’ director of youth hockey development, wrote in a statement.

Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday game are as low as $15. The game will be streamed on the official Capitals Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as on the Monumental Sports Network.

Hockey clinics will also be held at the Iceplex in Ballston for both youth and adult female players on March 3-5. The clinics will include work on and off the ice and will feature PWHPA athletes, coaches, and Caps youth hockey development staff. Participants will receive a complimentary weekend pass to the games.

The PWHPA features approximately 125 of the world’s best female hockey players and was specifically formed to create a women’s hockey league that pays a living wage to players while provideing elite-level resources like trainers, marketing, and facilities.

“We wanted to partner with the Capitals because of their involvement in the community & girls’ hockey,” a PWHPA spokesperson said. “Particularly, the launch [of] their ALL CAPS ALL HER initiative. It’s important for us to partner with organizations who want to grow the women’s game, which the Capitals definitely do.”

The 137,000-square-foot Medstar Capital Iceplex, which got a new name in 2018, opened 15 years ago. In addition to offering a venue for public skates and local hockey clubs, it serves as the Capitals’ practice facility and team headquarters.

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