Multi-use park to host baseball and soccer

ASHBURN -- About 40 miles away from RFK Stadium, just up the road from the Washington Redskins practice bubble, dirt was turned over Tuesday as construction officially began for the region's newest sports stadium.

In front of a crowd of more than 200 in a sun-splashed event replete with horses and dogs from the Loudoun Hunt Club, the Loudoun Hounds baseball club and Virginia Cavalry FC and celebrated the groundbreaking of a 5,500-capacity baseball and soccer stadium that will be named Edelman Financial Field.

Bob Farren, the founder and CEO of VIP Sports & Entertainment, which owns both clubs, ended the proceedings with, "Unleash the hounds." Before that, he had an emotional moment as he took note of a process that had been 12 years in the works. He confided that it all began during a trip to take his daughters downtown for a Britney Spears concert.

"I was so frustrated with the traffic and construction delays, I was like, 'Why don't we have something out here?' " Farren said. "Honestly, that's how it got started. It's not any more sophisticated than that."

The multi-use ballpark is expected to be ready for games in the spring of 2014. It is the anchor for a development -- One Loudoun -- that is a crucial part of Loudoun County's ambition to provide affordable, family entertainment within its boundaries.

It is also in line with the determined aspirations of baseball's Atlantic League and the North American Soccer League, both of which hope to be known for more than just their current place in the secondary tiers of the pro sports landscape.

The stadium will be named for Ric Edelman's Fairfax-based Edelman Financial Services in a deal reportedly worth six figures.

In attendance were members of the Loudoun County board of supervisors along with Joe Klein, the executive director of the Atlantic League, and Rishi Sehgal, the director of business development and legal affairs for the NASL. Sehgal's superiors were in New York to celebrate the New York Cosmos' announcement of a significant partnership with Emirates Airlines. The resurrected Cosmos once seemed destined for MLS but instead are on track, with the recent unveiling of New York City FC, to be one of three pro soccer teams in the Big Apple.

"More soccer is good for everybody," Sehgal said. "Whatever we can do to raise the profile of the game in the U.S. and Canada, it only helps."

Both the Hounds and Cavalry now expect to intensify the search for a manager and head coach, respectively. Hires could be named in July.

Calvary director of soccer operations Mark Simpson said he's also enlisted the informal help of two of his former teammates at D.C. United, John Harkes and Eddie Pope.

"It's like riding the Tour de France," Cavalry director of soccer operations Mark Simpson said. "You go over hills, and this is definitely a nice hill to overcome. It's nice to enjoy now seeing what it's going to be like in a year. At least it becomes real today, and not just a dream."