For years, the visitors bureau in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia discussed the creation of a sports-specific brand to emphasize all that the county can bring to visitors in the sports world. Those discussions have now led to the creation of Loudoun Sports Tourism.
Loudoun Sports Tourism describes itself as “a brand designed to foster economic development through coordinating and developing Loudoun County’s role as a leading destination for sporting events and organizations.”
Torye Hurst, director of sales, sports and services and Visit Loudoun says that the brand was created to “demonstrate Loudoun’s commitment to this market and to the event rights holders. The idea was to create a brand focusing on three key elements: Loudoun as a destination, sports as the area of emphasis and tourism as the industry.”
Hurst and Director of Media Relations Jennifer Sigel say the goal is to work collaboratively with neighboring jurisdictions rather than to create competition in the D.C. area.
According to Hurst, the strengths of Loudoun Country, specifically, lie in location and experiences offered by the greenspace not often found in similar metro areas.
“Loudoun sets itself apart not only because of its diversity of facilities and wide range of off-the-field activities, but also for its accessibility,” he says. “Less than an hour from Washington, D.C., Loudoun is home to Dulles International Airport and the Metro [coming in 2020]. It also offers countless fields, greenspace not always found in metropolitan regions, a robust wine and beer scene, historic towns and other attractions that appeal to both families and players. Loudoun Sports Tourism will combine all these great assets under one brand.”
As for sport-specific venues, Loudoun County has been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to recent facility development.
Ion International Training Center, which opened in June in Leesburg, is the largest ice skating facility in the region. The $21 million, 100,000 sq.-ft. facility includes twin ice rinks, one of which seats 4,000 people. The floor space can also be converted for non-skating events.
“Our focus will be on ice events including hockey, figure skating and synchronized skating as well as indoor events such as wrestling, boxing, basketball that can also be hosted at Ion,” Hurst says. “We will also continue to emphasize our ever-growing fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball markets in cooperation with Loudoun County Parks and Recreation.”
Those softball events can be held at the massive Potomack Lakes Sportsplex, which houses four lighted softball fields with 300-feet permanent and 200-feet movable fences. The venue also has six large, adjacent soccer fields.
Additionally, Hurst says Morven Park, Evergreen Sportsplex, Philip Bolen Park, Ashburn Ice House, Claude Moore Park, Loudoun Sports Park and Loudoun United Soccer Stadium, opening in August, are standout venue.
Despite only being in existence for a short time, Hurst says that the response to the launch of the new brand has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The brand has just been launched but the initial response has been very positive,” he says. “Our partnership with Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services has made Loudoun a true sports destination with excellent facilities and the best field crews you will find at any facility in the nation.”