Loudoun’s first arena and second skating center will open its doors this weekend.
The ION International Training Center, located just inside Leesburg’s corporate limits in the Compass Creek development, is the brainchild of Luiz Taifas, a former Olympic skater and Romanian national champion. He and wife, Mitra Setayesh, have spent the past several years planning for the opening of their first skating center, but for Taifas, the opening of ION is a dream a lifetime in the making.
Setayesh refers to the finished product as akin to being inside of her husband’s brain. He has spent his career, which includes both competing himself and training other skaters, mentally filing away the good and the bad of all the rinks he has visited in a career that has taken him to 58 countries.
And the final product is truly unique in Loudoun. The 100,000-square-foot facility boasts two National Hockey League-size ice rinks, one that will be used mostly as a practice rink and for open skating, and another with arena seating and a scoreboard that can be used for almost any sport. The arena seating component sets ION apart from some of its competitors, as the 3,500-seating capacity and multifunctional floor will allow it to host concerts, other non-ice sports tournaments, and even monster truck shows, Setayesh said. With the multifunctional flooring over the ice, there is even capacity to add an additional 2,000 seats, she said.
They have already been in touch with Loudoun County Public Schools, offering the space for future high school graduations in a deal they hope to strike. Almost 1,000 parking spaces are available to accommodate the crowds. The 14.5 acres of parking can also house temporary turf if there is no event scheduled, to allow for more training and conditioning opportunities for athletes.
Off the ice, the facility offers something for just about everyone. A full-size gym and exercise studio will offer memberships, and there will be special recovery-type machines with the latest technology—including cryotherapy—for the athletes that train there.
The cafe and lounge area will offer an assortment of culinary options, from your standard chicken tenders and hot dogs to healthier options, with meal- and soup-of-the-day specials. Setayesh noted that their chef consulted personally with the athletic staff to find healthy menu options available for ION’s athletes. Catering and to-go options are also available, perfect for the busy families who want to have dinner ready for pick-up when their children are done with after-school practice. Beer and wine will be served in the bar area, and the arena rink boasts three concession stands and a concession cart for snacks during events.
ION also features a pro shop, rooms to accommodate birthday parties or team events, a study room for its athletes with provided homework help and a skate rental area.
In addition to the hockey leagues it will house, ION has also been sanctioned to be the East Coast anchor for short-track speedskating, saving athletes from having to head west to train in Utah or Colorado Springs, Setayesh said. Having the facility at its core be a training center has long been a goal of Taifas’, who hopes to also cultivate homegrown talent and even future Olympic stars.
ION’s owners are already looking ahead to the real possibility that they will need to expand the facility in the next two to three years, and have plans—and the land available—to add an additional NHL-sized rink and an Olympic regulation rink, as well as more locker rooms and shower facilities.
ION will be open seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. The summer will feature a slew of camps for children from age 4 and up, as well as some of its leagues and lessons kicking off.
To celebrate its opening, the facility will offer free open skating from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for the next three weekends.
On grand opening weekend, Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, ION will host a slew of events, culminating in an ice show to benefit the Michael Weiss Foundation at 6 p.m. June 15. That show, emceed by Figure Skating Hall of Famer Weiss, will feature Olympic medalists Nathan Chen, Mirai Nagasu and Dan Hollander, and Canadian figure skater Nam Nguyen.