Loudoun Planning Commissioners have taken their first look at plans to build a 5,000-seat stadium, headquarters, and training facilities for the D.C. United soccer team just south of Leesburg, and echoed concerns from area residents about the stadium’s traffic.
A Memorandum of Understanding between Loudoun County and the Major League Soccer team D.C. United would also bring a new second-division professional men’s soccer team called Loudoun United FC, four more soccer fields, and parking to Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park just south of Leesburg. D.C. United proposes to pay for all of those facilities, except for the parking, through a long-term lease. The county would own the stadium and fields.
But residents in nearby Kincaid Forest, Town of Leesburg planners, and now Loudoun County planning commissioners have expressed concerns about traffic and parking. In particular, commissioners worried about traffic on Sycolin Road and Kincaid Boulevard, which currently dead-ends at a traffic barricade.
Once opened fully to traffic, Kincaid Boulevard will connect Bolen Park with Battlefield Parkway, providing a second major point of access to the park. Although Kincaid Boulevard has been complete for years, the Leesburg Town Council has resisted opening it to through traffic until Crosstrail Boulevard is complete because of traffic concerns in Kincaid Forest. When finished, Crosstrail will connect Bolen Park directly to Rt. 7 at the Village at Leesburg.
The modular stadium’s first phase will have 5,000 seats, with the options to grow to 5,500. This will be accommodated by 500 stadium parking spaces, 300 new commuter parking spaces, and the existing Leesburg park and ride lot’s 672 space. Under its policies, the county would usually require 1,300 parking spaces dedicated to a stadium that size, rather than 500.
Rich Brittingham of the consulting firm Dewberry said with games and event prohibited to start before 7 p.m., workday commuter traffic in the park-and-ride lot is expected to be mostly gone by the time fans start showing up for games. The developers are also proposing to install extended turn lanes at the intersection of Sycolin Road and Crosstrail Boulevard and develop traffic management plans.
“Opening up Kincaid Boulevard is just going to be a complete nightmare, not only for us, but those residents on Tavistock Drive as well,” said Keith Reeve, president of the Kincaid Forest Homeowners Association, during a public hearing Tuesday night.
Kincaid Forest resident Craig Lane agreed, citing a traffic study prepared for a different project in the area in 2015 that showed overloaded intersections in 2020.
“I don’t know how you have a 5,500-seat stadium and a soccer game there when half the people can’t get to it, and the half that got there probably have not found a parking space,” Lane said. “We’ve got some really serious issues here with transportation.”
The county is also pursuing a faster-than-normal process for reviewing the various zoning changes required for the project, with approval from the Board of Supervisors as soon as July or September depending on Planning Commission action. Commissioners Jeff Salmon (Dulles) and Eugene Scheel (Catoctin) expressed concern that they were presented with a recommendation to approve the application before a proffer agreement between D.C. United and the county had been worked out.
“It might not sound like it, but I’m very excited about this project,” Salmon said. “I think it’s a great idea for the county, but our job up here is planning and making sure it’s planned correctly.”
And Commissioner Jim Sisley (At Large) said without more work on roads and parking, particularly if the stadium will hold special events that would accommodate even more seating on the field, the project will face opposition in its neighborhood.
“The community—I’m talking about Loudoun and the town—needs a performance venue. So there’s reasons why the community is going to support this,” Sisily said. “But that support is going to evaporate incredibly quickly once the load of transportation and the lack of parking becomes evident to the people that live around there, and the people that are elected to represented the Town of Leesburg know that, and you’re going to find that elected body to be reticent to cooperate to support this project.”
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to send the application to another meeting for more work.
Loudoun United is expected to start playing in the new stadium in spring 2019.