– By Andrea Gaines
Shortly before Christmas, County officials announced that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is considering a proposal to bring D.C. United soccer operations to a 50+-acre section of the 405-acre Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park site, south of Leesburg.
The Loudoun agreement includes the construction of a stadium, team headquarters offices, and training and other facilities, and plans to make the site the formal location of a men’s professional second division team. The headquarters and training facilities would total some 40,000-sq. ft. The second division team falls directly under the umbrella of major league soccer, and is expected to play 30 games per season, including 15 at-home games.
Said BOS Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), “Because Loudoun County is a national leader in youth soccer, I can’t think of a better place for D.C. United to be located. This will provide Loudoun’s kids with the opportunity to learn from the best soccer players and to experience world class competition.”
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), Chair of the Board’s Finance, Economic Development and Government Operations Committee, is equally supportive of the move. “The County now has an incredible opportunity to bring a global sports franchise to Loudoun and to build upon the already-strong youth soccer programs in our county,” he said. “Notably, under the proposed agreement, the team will be repaying the County for the cost of constructing its facilities, so this agreement is a win for our finances and for our residents.”
The D.C. United agreement represents a substantial long-term financial and operational commitment on the part of the County. The Bolen Memorial Park land is valued at $23 million. Under the agreement, D.C. United would secure the site for an initial term of 40 years, with two 10-year extension options.
Loudoun will provide the land for the facilities, along with $15 million in construction financing for the fields, offices, training facility, and a 5,000-seat stadium. Lease payments made by the team will fully offset any debt payments. And, the County will have use of the stadium for college sports, concerts, and other events.
A parking lot will be available for stadium events and will be used as a Loudoun County Transit Park and Ride lot during commuting hours. Four new soccer fields will be built, two of which will be used for team practice, and two will be shared with the County for use during peak recreational times.
Next steps include the presentation to the Board of a formal Memorandum of Agreement at the BOS’s regularly-scheduled public hearing on Jan. 10. A rezoning application will be required for the site. A formal marketing agreement must be signed, and Loudoun must get legislative approval from the General Assembly to collect admission fees.