The call of "Unleash the hounds!" echoed over an unusual groundbreaking ceremony in Ashburn Tuesday as construction of the region's newest pro sports stadium got underway.
Foxhunters and hounds roamed across a huge field at the intersection of Route 7 and the Loudoun County Parkway. Next May, a 5,500-seat stadium will rise from the turf, the new home to two professional sports teams: the Loudoun Hounds indepedent league baseball team and Cavalry FC soccer.
Bob Farren, the CEO of VIP Sports & Entertainment, has been dreaming of this day for a decade.
"There were many times it was very, very lonely doing this but over the last few years it just started exploding. Here we are, and the best is yet to come," Farren said after he and others also took part in the customary shovel turn of dirt.
Loudoun County Board Chairman Scott York says the stadium and its two teams will give residents a new source of urban-style entertainment without the two hour trek into the District of Columbia.
"They won't have to leave three or four hours in advance to get to a stadium downtown," York said. "They won't have to pay an arm and a leg and also take out another mortgage just to afford the night. We believe tickets will be around the price of movie and the food will be much less."
Residents say they look forward to pro sports without the high cost and long commute.
"It's closer. Once i finish the game I'm relaxed. I i can stay as long as I want to I don't have to worry about going through D.C. traffic so I'm lookng forward to it," said Ashburn resident Ken Davis.
The stadium is the centerpiece of a new development called One Loudoun, whose developers hope to make it the county's downtown district. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema just opened last month, adding another entertainment option.
Eventually more retail, office space and residential areas will surround the stadium. Business leaders hope the development will start to broaden Loudoun's appeal.
"Young professionals were telling us Loudoun County is a great place, but not all that exciting," said Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard. "There's not a lot to do after you leave work in the evening, and what ths does is add another element that in and of itself is unique but also will be an attraction."