Allegany Communications Sports­­

So, the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals are moving again? That’s what the teams’ owner Ted Leonsis and Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin said on Wednesday when they announced plans for the NBA Wizards and the NHL Capitals to move to a state-of-the art arena and entertainment complex in Alexandria, Va.

More on that in time, but if it does actually come to fruition by 2028, it’s not as though the teams will be moving to Albuquerque. But, yes, it does seem unfortunate both teams would leave the District of Columbia given how Capital One Arena, which Leonsis and Monumental Sports and Entertainment now own, has revitalized the Chinatown section of the larger Penn Quarter neighborhood in downtown D.C.

Still, the new location is only four miles and a few Metro stops away from Capital One, so … relax, will ya?

We’ll see. Nothing is settled yet, as the district government went right to work to secure better funding for Leonsis to stay in D.C., and yada-yada-yada. However, if it does happen — and it sounds like a sweet deal for Leonsis, the Wizards, the Caps and the Potomac Yard development in Virginia — the relocation will be nothing new to the NBA franchise that was established as the Chicago Packers in 1961.

Yes, the Washington Wizards were originally the Chicago Packers for one season. Yes, the Packers, who were named as such because the meat packing industry has always been such a big deal in the City of the Big Shoulders (read your Sandburg); but Chicago sports fans hated the name because their bitter arch-enemy of all time has always been the NFL Green Bay Packers, so, in 1962, the team became the Chicago Zephyrs.

But then in 1963, the NBA franchise was moved to Baltimore, where we met them, and became the Baltimore Bullets, which had been the name of a previous basketball team in Charm City.

Then in 1973, the team was moved by owner Abe Pollin 30-some miles south to Landover where they became the Capital Bullets to play in the brand new state-of-the-art arena Pollin had financed and built, the Capital Centre, along with Pollin’s expansion NHL team, the Washington Capitals.

The arena, which, at the time, really was beautiful and state of the art, stood not far from where the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field, originally Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (GAK!), stands. Capital Centre, in which I saw a concert or few, along with some Bullets, Caps, Maryland and Georgetown games, was demolished in 2002.

Given, though, the Cap Centre was about 5-6 miles from the D.C. line, Pollin gave up the pipe dream of the Bullets ever being a regional team, because nobody from Baltimore was ever going to go anywhere to pay to watch a team that had left Baltimore, so he named the team Washington Bullets the following season, even though the Bullets and the Washington Capitals played in Maryland.

Sound familiar?

The Bullets and the Caps would eventually reach the nation’s capital in 1997, as Pollin had announced he would finance and build another new arena, this one in downtown D.C., which he did. And when the NBA team played its first game in what was then known as MCI Center, it did so as the rebranded Washington Wizards.

In 1995, if you recall, Pollin announced he would change the team’s name because “Bullets” had taken on such violent overtones that had come to make him increasingly uncomfortable. The homicide and crime rates in the early 1990s were very high in D.C., and Pollin said he felt even more uncomfortable about his team’s name while attending the funeral of his friend, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had been assassinated.

I was a Baltimore Bullets fan growing up (Earl the Pearl!), so I’ve always had an interest in the NBA franchise Packers/Zephyrs/Bullets/Wizards.

Plus, when my roommate Bill Feeney and I didn’t feel like studying — okay, when I didn’t feel like studying — I talked him into going with me to Bullets or Caps games at the Cap Centre, which was just down the road from where we lived, so we were there quite a few more times than we should have been. Of course, it doesn’t matter now, does it? And we had fun, so the hell with them if they can’t take a joke, right?

As for Capital One Arena in downtown D.C., it is absolutely gorgeous and convenient. I’d hate to see the teams leave D.C., even though they’ll be just down the road. And it all sounds like such a frighteningly wonderful deal for all involved …

But we’ll see. There’s a lot of time between now and then, which Leonsis is far more aware of than anybody. On top of that, this ain’t Virginia’s first time up as cheerleader in trying to lure a D.C. team its way. The last guy they pitched some serious woo to was a Mr. Cooke, who ended up building his monument to himself in Maryland.

Virginia is for Lovers (or so they said).

Sure, we’re all for lovers.

Until we get cold feet.

It’s a long way from Penn Quarter to Potomac Yard.

It’s a long way to go.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT