Loudoun will soon be home to another professional sports team.
Steve Baldwin, the majority owner of the Washington Spirit National Women’s Soccer League team, announced Tuesday that by 2021, the team would begin training at the new training center that D.C. United is building at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park near Leesburg.
Baldwin said the Spirit would also play four home games at Loudoun’s 5,000-seat stadium at Segra Field in its 2020 season, along with four games at its existing home at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD, and four at Audi Field in Washington, DC, where D.C. United has played since July 2018. In 2021, the women’s team will play seven games at Audi and five games at Segra—the field that Loudoun United FC has called home since August.
“That’s big for us, we are delighted to be here in Loudoun County,” Baldwin said. “We’re going to have five crazy good experiences at Segra in 2021.”
Baldwin said the Spirit would continue training in Boyds throughout the 2020 season but would relocate to Loudoun thereafter. He said the team would play one preseason game at the 5,300-seat SoccerPlex in subsequent years.
Alongside Baldwin during the announcement in the County Government Center were Adam Behnke, the chief operation officer of Loudoun United, Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).
Behnke said Philip A. Bolen Park is quickly becoming Northern Virginia’s soccer hub, noting that it could at some point also be viewed as North America’s soccer hub. “I think were on the precipice of something extremely special,” he said.
Letourneau said that when the county was working to attract Loudoun United a few years ago, the Washington Spirit was additionally on the minds of supervisors and county staff members.
He said the county is furthering its discussions with D.C. United in attempts to gain more support from the organization.
Randall said the partnership that the county has experienced with Loudoun United and D.C. United in the last year has been fantastic. She said that because Loudoun Soccer is one of the strongest youth soccer clubs in the nation, there will inevitably be boys and girls in Loudoun who attend Spirit and Loudoun United games at Segra Field who will wind up playing for one of the teams one day. “This will be a very, very strong partnership,” she said.
The deal to bring the Washington Spirit to Loudoun comes 14 months after the county landed a similar deal with D.C. United that brought Loudoun United to town. D.C. United is working to build atraining center at Philip A. Bolen for its first team and second division players and to house its youth development program and business operations offices.
The Spirit has played all seven of its seasons in the NWSL at the Maryland SoccerPlex. During the 2019 season, the team played two of its home games at the 20,000-seat Audi Field.
When asked about the Spirit’s move from grass to artificial turf at Segra Field, Baldwin said that, while professional soccer players all want to play on real grass, the team is fully supportive of the decision to move to Loudoun.
Moving into 2020, soccer fans might be curious to see which team can win more games on that artificial turf. Since Loudoun United played its first game at Segra Field on Aug. 9, the men’s team racked up five wins, five losses and two draws.
Loudoun United’s inaugural season ended with an 11-17-6 record. The Spirit closed out its season with a 9-8-7 record.
Baldwin said Spirit tickets for the 2020 season would be available as early as next week on Ticketmaster.