Editor: When I first learned on Supervisor Matt Letourneau’s Facebook page about the potential deal with DC United to build a stadium for a new professional soccer league team here in Leesburg, I reacted favorably. “How nice,” I said to myself, “that the Board of Supervisors is considering doing something for Leesburg!”
However, in looking at the details of this deal, it is my sincere hope the board will just forget about it, unless DC United or this USL league, puts in some of their own money.
This is from the staff report for Wednesday’s Supervisor public hearing:
- “Two of the fields will be for exclusive use by DC United and the USL Team, and two of the fields will be available for County use and for joint community programming by the USL Team and the County (Public Fields) The County will issue debt to finance the construction of the Facilities, in an amount up to $15 million. The length of financing periods for the Facilities are still being determined between the team and the County, but discussions thus far have involved a twenty year financing period for the stadium and fields and a thirty year period for the training and headquarters building.”
My comment: Sports teams do not stay in one place for 20 years in many cases. What happens to this investment by the County if the DC United or USL Team gets a better deal from another city and, do the voters get to approve the $15 million via a bond referenda?
- “The nature of the stadium construction is likely to require significant upgrade or replacement after 15 to 20 years which would suggest a similar timeframe for financing.“
My comment: What’s the cost to the taxpayers at that point? Do we really want to be in the “stadium business”?
- “The estimated costs of the site preparation and the construction of parking will total approximately $7 million.”
My comment: Sounds like the county taxpayers are on the hook for this, or is the payback from DC United’s lease payments? Only $1 million is available from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to offset the county’s costs.
Let’s not forget this deal hinges on the General Assembly approving legislation giving Loudoun the authority to collect a tax on tickets. This was also proposed for the ill-fated Loudoun Hounds stadium in Ashburn.
This does not look like a good deal for Loudoun. I am sure it’s a sweetheart deal for DC United, but not for us.
Plus, traffic on Sycolin Road will be bad enough with both bus commuters leaving the lot and soccer fans arriving.
In contrast, the Loudoun/Virginia deal to keep K2M in Leesburg and expand it here cost the county a few hundred thousand dollars and committed the company to expand its employment base—I believe by about 100 people. We also get great tax revenue from K2M, and it got Hope Parkway opened to the Greenway for Stratford residents.
Frankly, if the supervisors really want to put some of our tax dollars to work for Leesburg, they could help buy the Westpark Golf Course and keep it from being developed for housing. The estimated purchase price for more than 100 acres is just $6 million—which can yield more soccer fields and even baseball diamonds for town and county youth. The county could even operate a golf course and driving range if it wanted to and get some revenue back. I am not advocating putting the DC United stadium there, nor anywhere in Loudoun under the terms being discussed.
I would request Leesburg and Loudoun residents write the board at BOS@loudoun.gov and ask them to “kick” this DC United/USL deal off the field.
Ken Reid, Leesburg
[The writer is a former Leesburg District supervisors and Town Council member.]