Thursday, April 9, 2015

Washington Wizards, Howard U. in talks to build a mixed-use training and practice facility

This is interesting -- the Washington Wizards NBA team are looking to build their own training and practice facility somewhere in the metro area, and they're in talks with Howard University to build it on their campus. Howard is trying to build more commercial and residential properties around their campus to help their finances.

The discussions are early, but one of their ideas is a mixed-use development that would include a training center for the Wiz. According to the Post:
[University President Wayne A.I.] Frederick said that although the discussions were in the early stages, he was interested in using the school’s real estate to help revitalize Georgia Avenue, bring the school revenue and add amenities that would benefit both students and the surrounding communities, such as a health and wellness center, a grocery store or new housing. 
“We’ve been talking to lots of people about different types of things,” Frederick said. “One of my goals at the university is to diversify our revenue streams and looking at real estate assets is a part of that.”
One idea with the development would be to include a health and wellness center with studios, classes and gym space for the campus and possibly new sports facilities, like a new arena for basketball. Their current arena is small and not in the best shape (in my opinion.)

The Wizards are looking to increase their practice space, as the Verizon Center only has one extra court. Other NBA teams are building their own practice and workout facilities, much like the Keller Capitals Iceplex in Virginia, which serves as practice space for the Washington Capitals but also a community hockey rink.

The Wizards training center would be publically financed, perhaps by taxes on any revenue created from it (though I'm not sure what kind of revenue a practice facility would generate.)

To me, this sounds like a great deal for Howard and the Wiz if the financing can be worked out -- Howard would get new facilities, like an arena and health and wellness center for students, the Wiz would get a new practice facility, and presumably the community would get to attend practices for the team.

The facility would be between 8th and Georgia north of W Street, shown in gray below. That area is mostly empty or unused Howard University buildings across from the Howard U. Hospital.

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