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August 08, 2016

An entertainment and sports arena planned for Washington, D.C.'s underserved Ward 8 neighborhood will be more expensive than initially thought, but also will yield more benefits to the surrounding community, according to Events D.C., the District of Columbia's convention and sports authority. 

The $55-million project is now expected to cost $65 million, according to Events DC, which said $7.5 million of the $10-million increase will go toward programmatic needs and $2.5 million to additional contingencies. The programmatic needs in question, the organization explained, include requirements that the arena be able to host both sport and entertainment events, expanding arts, cultural, and civic programming in the Ward 8 neighborhood. As such, the design team has proposed a seating capacity of 4,200 seats with a split-bowl seating configuration that's optimal for hosting event programming of all types.

"These additional funds are mutually beneficial for all stakeholders, visitors, as well as community members, and maintain the original vision for the project -- to build a world-capital worthy entertainment destination," said Max Brown, chairman of Events DC's board of directors. "This project will drive significant economic growth to an area of our city that deserves nothing but the best and that the rest of our city has had for years. It's time that Ward 8 participates in our economic prosperity."

Announced in fall 2015, the future arena will be a practice facility for the Washington Wizards, home court of the Washington Mystics, and a premier entertainment venue in the District. Scheduled for completion in fall 2018, it's expected to attract more than 380,000 residents and visitors per year, generate hundreds jobs, and catalyze economic development across the disadvantaged Ward 8 community.

"This project is consistent with our mission of creating premier event experiences that allow us to extend our event offerings for residents and visitors," said Events DC President and CEO Gregory A. O'Dell.  "We believe the revised budget remains the appropriate investment to create the amazing arena experience we all want for the Ward 8 community and beyond."