- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

Several hundred people turned out yesterday as Arlington County and the Washington Capitals held a formal “ice breaking” for the team’s 137,000-square foot training complex.

“I want this to be sort of the bellwether of what our league can become — being integral to the community and also being a world-class facility,” said Ted Leonsis, majority owner of the NHL team.

Construction on the project actually began in March and is expected to be completed in late July or August 2006. The facility is being built atop an existing seven-story parking garage, adding a floor to the structure attached to Ballston Common Mall in Arlington.

The complex will be owned by Arlington County and leased to the Caps for a 25-year period. The cost is expected to be $42.7million, with the team paying debt service on a total of $35.5million, about $2.1million a season.

Club and local political leaders were present, as well as former players like Rod Langway, Kelly Miller, Joe Reekie and Al Iafrate.

“This is a major, major investment by the community and by us,” said Leonsis, who said he could not comment on the league’s labor stalemate, which has resulted in a lockout that has been ongoing since September. “I think this will be the best in class in the NHL for office and practice facilities.”

It is the second major move the Caps have made since the lockout began. In May, the team announced it was moving its top American Hockey League affiliate to Hershey, Pa., leaving Portland, Maine, after a dozen years.

The Caps have practiced at Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Md., since 1991. Before that the team trained at Fort DuPont in the District and Mount Vernon in Fairfax County.

“Moving here to Arlington, which is the heart of our season ticket-holder community, we’re two Metro stops away from the District and a couple from the Bethesda area,” Leonsis said. “Really, this is great for the fan base.”

The facility will include two NHL-sized rinks and seating for 1,200. It will have party and meeting space, locker rooms, media facilities, a weight training area and a medical rehabilitation area. It also will house the team’s front-office staff, which now leases office space in the District.

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