The risings costs of Loudoun’s new soccer stadium complex at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park have given some supervisors pause, as the tenants—DC United and Loudoun United—were granted $10 million more in government financing, almost doubling the original agreement.
The county board had already agreed to issue government bonds to finance up to $15 million of the cost of the project, which the team has committed to pay back over time. But according to a staff report, the project has seen cost overruns of around $12 million to $15 million. The teams requested $8.7 million in additional county financing to help cover that costs, but county staff members estimated at least $10 million is needed for that work, which includes paying water and sewer fees to the Town of Leesburg, installing restroom facilities, installing sanitary and storm sewer systems, and work on land preparation and the training facility area. Water and sewer availability fees alone are expected to cost $1.77 million.
The stadium, Segra Field, was opened in August and Loudoun United played their first home games there this year. The training facilities and other fields remain under construction.
The tenants offered two offsets to boost the value of the deal to the county, which has guidelines for return-on-investment when using county money or debt financing to support a private business.
First, the team offered a marketing and exposure partnership with the county to promote Loudoun, which was compared to an agreement the county formerly had with the Washington Redskins. The teams valued that at about $900,000 annually, although the county’s own Department of Economic Development pegged its value at closer to $650,000 a year, based on how much it would cost to buy those services.
Secondly, the team offered up the new agreement with Washington Spirit professional women’s soccer team, which will co-locate its headquarters and training center with the DC United and Loudoun United teams and play four or five home games a year at Segra Field. The team will also partner with the county on marketing in a similar way. The Department of Economic Development opined that would add to the Loudoun brand, and bring about $3.72 million in economic activity to the county each year.
Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), who opposed the first deal with DC United over concerns about traffic and conflicts with the Town of Leesburg, also opposed expanding the deal with additional financing.
“I am not persuaded that the county is going to see the kind of return on its investment that we normally would expect in, in the time period that we normally would expect to on the first part of this deal,” Umstattd said. “And the second part, I think, makes it even more difficult to recoup and recover our expenses.”
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), although supporting the additional financing support, also expressed reservations.
“I think it’s something that the next board really needs to watch to make sure we are getting our money’s worth,” Meyer said.
Supervisors approved the new financing on a 7-1-1 vote, with Umstattd opposed and Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) absent.