Loudoun Supervisors have put the county staff to work hashing out the details of a $15 million financing agreement to bring a second division professional soccer team and D.C. United headquarters and training center to Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park south of Leesburg.
According to a Memorandum of Understanding approved Thursday, the deal will bring a 5,000-seat stadium, four soccer fields, and 40,000 square feet of office to the complex. The team would pay back the cost of the stadium through its lease on the property, and the county would have the use of the stadium and two of the fields.
“It is a facility that the county will own,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “So, what we have here is a situation where the county is going to have an asset that somebody else is paying us back for.”
He said the benefits to Loudoun of having the team, the D.C. United name and the facilities will be “significant.”
“I’m sure that everybody here has had the experience of travelling outside the county for a high school graduation, for instance, because there’s no facility or venue big enough to host it here,” Letourneau said.
The idea has faced some opposition, particularly from people living nearby. Residents of Kincaid Forest have said they’re worried the stadium will mean more traffic through their neighborhood, which is bisected by Kincaid Boulevard. The county completed construction on Kincaid Boulevard years ago, but the Leesburg Town Council has resisted opening it to through traffic until construction on missing links of Crosstrails Boulevard are completed. Once open, Kincaid Boulevard will connect Bolen Park to Battlefield Parkway via Crosstrails Boulevard.
Letourneau said some people have overestimated the scale of the stadium, where a second division men’s professional team is expected to play 15 games a year starting in spring of 2019.
“The number of cars that would actually be involved in that are actually fairly consistent with what Bolen Park sees on a typical busy, peak type of time period anyway, when all the fields are being used,” Letourneau said.
The project has also drawn criticism for including a dedicated “Loudoun County Economic Development Suite,” to which county government leaders will have first choice.
“It’s not like it’s going to be for the personal use of the Board of Supervisors whenever we feel like this,” Letourneau said. “… We want to make sure that if we want to bring in groups, if [Department of Economic Development Executive Director] Buddy Rizer wants to bring in people, if we want to reward a charity that raises so much—there’s a dedicated place that we can do that at this facility.”
On the board, only Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) voted against the project, citing the concerns of neighbors in the area.
According to the county, approximately 50 employees would work at the D.C. United complex, which is where the team would construct a training facility for its first team players, second division players, youth development program, and offices to house business operations. The county would provide land and up to $15 million in financing for the stadium and offices, which the company will pay back through its lease.
The county would clear the land at its expense and 1,000 more parking spaces, which it would be able to use for park-and-ride lots during commuter hours. The cost of clearing the site and building the parking lot is estimated at $7 million.