Loudoun supervisors and members of the county’s thriving soccer community gathered at Vanish Farmwoods Brewery near Lucketts last night to formally welcome Loudoun United FC as a community and business partner.
The United Soccer League team plans to begin play at a new 5,000-seat stadium in Bolen Park next year. During Wednesday’s event, the team unveiled its logo–which incorporates elements of Loudoun County’s flag as well as D.C. United’s shield—and a team motto—We Byde Our Time—that also reflects Loudoun’s heritage and its “I Byde My Time” motto.
The event was a culmination of talks that have been ongoing between county leaders and D.C. United Managing General Partner Jason Levien for several years. In addition to bringing a professional soccer team to play in Loudoun, the deal also will see D.C. United move its headquarters to the Bolen Park complex. With the Washington Redskins based in Ashburn, Loudoun will be home to two major league sports franchises.
Levien said D.C. United’s Loudoun operations come with a commitment to helping build on the county’s already strong soccer infrastructure.
“We’re going to bringing players in from around the world. We’re going to have our local kids training with them. We’re going to grow our academy here in Loudoun,” he said. “Loudoun has a tremendous foundation for soccer and there a lot of people committed to the sport—so many kids, so many coaches, and so many parents. And honestly, we want to fit in the right way. We want to work with our partners and we want to embolden soccer in this community.”
The Loudoun United operations are led by COO Adam Behnke.
“Loudoun County is one of the most impressive counties in the country—between the robust community and youth soccer presence, the creation of a professional soccer team is the perfect way to activate the two,” he said.
“With a team to call our own, a local professional sports entertainment option and youth soccer players having role models in their backyard to follow to one day play at the professional level, we can truly create something special in our community.”
Six members of the Board of Supervisors attended the program and pledged support for moving the stadium complex to construction, which still needs some county government approvals.
Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said the D.C. United investment will make Loudoun a mecca for soccer.
“This is a win for so many, Buona said. “This is not just a win for the USL and D.C. United. This is a win for all of our citizens. It’s a win for the community and the sense of community.”
“We’re going to create a soccer mecca and training center not only for D.C. United, not only for Loudoun United but for all of the children,” he said. “We’re going to become the number one soccer on the East Coast of the United States.”
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) led negotiations on the project. He said it addresses a concern he often hears from residents.
“We get people with what I call the ‘why can’t we haves.’ They will come to us and say ‘we’re the community you’re the elected officials, why can’t we have this? Why can’t we have that?’ One of those ‘why can’t we haves’ in Loudoun County for a long time has been a professional sports franchise. So today we can have it and we do have it,” Letourneau said.
Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer said Loudoun United will become an important community asset.
“I’ve been fortunate over the last dozen years to do a lot of great deals here in Loudoun County, but I’ve got to tell you I don’t know that there is a deal that I’ve been more proud of than this one,” Rizer said. “This has been so much fun to do because this is a community asset. This means something to the community that say that we have a professional team here that we can call our own, that we can call Loudoun United. That’s really something special and something I think we can all be proud of for a long time.”
Loudoun United is the seventh expansion club announced by USL for the 2019 season. Other new teams are based in New Mexico, Austin, El Paso, Memphis, Birmingham and Hartford. It is the second USL franchise in Virginia. DC United is currently affiliated with the Richmond Kickers, but that deal expires at the end of this season.
The USL will field nearly 40 teams across the United States and Canada in 2019. The league has seen attendance growth at an average annual rate of 36 percent since 2011, and its matches are shown on the ESPN+ platform, with come broadcast on the network’s cable channels as well.
Rizer urged the Loudoun business community to embrace Loudoun United.
“If you’re a business leader and you have the opportunity to work with this organization, I encourage you to do that. If you have kids in your family who are into soccer or are into sports, I encourage you to buy your tickets today. I encourage you to get as engaged as you can, because we all want this to be successful and something we can be proud of.
Although, construction of the stadium has yet to begin, area residents can get their seats reserved starting now. Those paying a $75 seat deposit will get priority in seat selection for the inaugural season.
For more information about Loudoun United FC, go to loudoununitedfc.com.