The formal ribbon cutting celebration occurred Friday afternoon, but figure skaters and hockey players have already been getting workouts in at Leesburg’s new $100 million ION International Training Center.
Dignitaries from the Loudoun and Leesburg governments, community leaders, construction contractors and investors gathered at the center’s lobby to mark the completion the center, a more than 20-year dream of Luiz Taifas, a former Olympic skater and Romanian national champion. It was made possible by the tenacious support of his wife, Mitra Setayesh, the work of Compass Creek developer The Petersen Companies, and remarkable cooperation and coordination between the two governments—required because the Leesburg/Loudoun County boundary splits the building.
“Everyone single person who is here tonight has contributed in one way or another to this day, to this happening,” Setayesh said. “Either the hands-on part of this whole project, or has inspired us, or is part of the community for which we’ve done all this.”
Starting Saturday morning, the public is invited to explore the complex. Free open skating will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for the next three weekends. A highlight of this weekend’s grand opening events will be an ice show to benefit the Michael Weiss Foundation starting at 6 p.m. Saturday. Weiss, a Figure Skating Hall of Famer, will emcee the event featuring Olympic medalists Nathan Chen, Mirai Nagasu and Dan Hollander, and Canadian figure skater Nam Nguyen. Tickets may be purchased here.
“This is an amazing facility,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), noting that too often she hears that there are not enough activities for young people. And the center will be a boost to the economy, she said. “We also know that this facility will bring about $20 million in commercial tax revenue into Loudoun County every year.”
“The community collaboration has been amazing,” Randall added.
“When I met them, they were two people with more energy, enthusiasm and vision than almost anybody it had ever been my honor to meet. And they had the kind of commitment that I thought if anybody can do this—and this was very complicated—they can and they did and I could not be happier. I’m so very pleased,” Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said. “I just didn’t think that anyone would navigate the town and the county as well as you did. You did it all.”
Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk recalled the 2017 groundbreaking for the training center, which was held at another location in Compass Creek, one entirely on county land. At the time she suggested, repeatedly, to Petersen President of Development Taylor Chess that it would be better to have the center built on a lot in Leesburg. A short time later, Chess called Setayesh to make that over. “He took the bait,” Burk said.
“This is a game-changer. This is an amazing facility that is going to make a difference for so many young kids. We’re going to have future Olympians coming from this spot. We’re going to have future hockey players who are getting millions of dollars coming from this spot. And we’re going to get kids who have never been on skates here skating in this spot,” Burk said.
Chess said the entire development company lined up strongly behind the unusual project.
“The mission of the Petersen Companies is to build exceptional places for people that can empower the community and can bring up the economic base. And we truly believe that this type of project here in Compass Creek, which is a 450-acre project, is a great anchor for this area. It is unique. It is different. It is not what you would typically go start a project on. But what it is going to bring to the area is going to be fantastic,” he said.
For more detail about the grand opening weekend events and the programs and camps already planned at the training center, go to ionitc.com.