From Loudoun County To RFK, The Pipeline Is Full Of Major Indoor Sports Complexes
The 350k SF sports and recreation complex proposed for RFK Stadium is just the latest of this type of facility to enter the DC pipeline. With plans also in the works in Springfield and Loudoun County, officials believe there is more than enough existing and growing demand for the influx in athletic space.
The RFK site concept, proposed by Events DC last week, would include an indoor turf field, an ice hockey rink, a basketball court, a track and field space, plus two outdoor soccer and lacrosse fields and two baseball diamonds.
The District has a scarcity of these types of facilities, Events DC managing director for sports and entertainment Erik Moses told Bisnow, which often forces DC schools and recreational leagues to practice and compete in surrounding counties.
Moses said Events DC's research suggests the sports complex will draw users from up to five hours away for amateur leagues and tournaments. It would be a main revenue driver for the facility, Moses said, and create business for local hotels and restaurants when people come from out of town to compete.
While DC hopes to draw users from surrounding counties, some of those jurisdictions are also jumping into the market with some major sports facilities of their own.
Fairfax County has approved a 435k SF facility in Springfield, above, that will include a full-size turf field for football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and softball, plus two NHL-sized ice hockey rinks, an aquatic center, and areas for golf, gymnastics, dance and baseball.
Fairfax County Economic Development Authority CEO Jerry Gordon said there is a shortage of fields in the county, just like in DC, that leads to weeks-long waiting lists for fields and teams struggling to find practice space. He said the St. James Sports and Wellness Center, which has no clear timeline yet for development, will help satisfy this demand while drawing from neighboring counties.
Gordon, above, said he is not worried about losing business to the RFK complex, which would be less than a 30-minute drive away, outside of rush hour.
"I think they are too far apart to compete with one another," Gordon said. "There is such great demand, imagine all the Little League soccer and baseball teams everywhere. There is always a shortage of fields."
In Loudoun, an indoor sports and recreation facility had been proposed for the One Loudoun development, but was recently removed from the application, One Loudoun developer Miller and Smith VP Bill May told Bisnow.
The county still has one major sports complex in the works: a 100k SF facility with two ice rinks, one NHL-sized and one Olympic-sized, expected to open later this year. The ION International Training Center, being built by MS Consulting Group, will include stadium seating that fits 4,000 people. The county expects it to draw from around the region and boost the local economy, Visit Loudoun CEO Beth Erickson said.
Beyond ice rinks, Loudoun also has demand for more court and field space, and economic development director Buddy Rizer said the county is looking at other opportunities to develop that type of facility.
"There is definitely some interest," Rizer, above, on the left with Bob Buchanan in 2015, said. "We see it as an asset we could use to draw people to the county with tournaments and traveling teams."
Montgomery County already has a major sports complex in Germantown, the Maryland Soccerplex & Discovery Sports Center. The facility has 24 outdoor fields; two indoor turf fields for soccer, baseball, lacrosse and field hockey; and eight indoor basketball/volleyball courts.
The facility hosts roughly 700,000 visitors each year, executive director Trish Heffelfinger said, with tournaments drawing participants from throughout Maryland, DC, Virginia and Delaware.
Heffelfinger said it took about five years after the facility opened in 2000 to reach this level of success, but she expects it to continue long term. Located about 50 minutes from RFK, she does not worry about losing business to a new facility in the District.
"They are building something that is going to give a large population access to it, and it is just what DC needs," Heffelfinger said. "I don't see a big change for us, we tend to look at these as positive entries to the market because they are good for kids."
With all of these facilities potentially competing with the RFK project, Moses still believes there is enough demand for more than one new sports complex to enter the marketplace. In addition to the existing, unmet demand, he pointed to the growing population of DC and its surrounding counties, plus an increased focus on wellness, as reasons for optimism.
"We may get into a situation, depending on when others get to market, where we pivot, depending on the activities," said Moses, above with the Wizards' John Wall at a 2015 event. "If we had, in the next three years, a bunch of ice rinks built then maybe we wouldn’t do ice. Time will tell."