The Washington Spirit announced a new partnership with DC United which will mean that four 2020 home games will be played at United’s home stadium, Audi Field in Washington DC, another four at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va. and four more at their normal home field, the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds. The Spirit played two high profile sold-out matches, against Orlando Pride and Reign FC, at Audi Field in 2019.
Here is the full message from Spirit’s CEO Steve Baldwin to the fans:
Dear Spirit Nation,
Yesterday was a big day for our club, our players, and our fans. We announced a new partnership with DC United that launches in 2020 by playing 4 league matches at Audi Field and 4 at Segra Field. We will also play 4 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
When I came into this, I felt we needed a different business model for success. A model that maximized inclusion and was obsessed with serving our players by providing them the best in all that we do. I felt that part of the model needed to eliminate my personal financial interest, and that is why I made the commitment and last night reiterated my commitment to donate my economic proceeds to the Maryland Soccer Foundation when my interest in the Spirit is transitioned to someone else. I mention this so when you (our fans and partners) look at yesterday’s announcement, you see it through the lens of it being what is best for our players – the players you love.
From the day I assumed the reigns of the Spirit, I have focused on us Thinking Bigger, with the objectives of transforming the game for our players, elevating their status, and impacting the lives of more kids. Part of Thinking Bigger was having an eye on building the path to where our players played on the biggest possible stage – specifically Audi Field. Our players and club love the Maryland SoccerPlex. It is a wonderful venue and we will celebrate the SoccerPlex during the upcoming season. Our decision has nothing to do with wanting to leave the SoccerPlex. The truth is leaving the SoccerPlex is bittersweet. We love the venue as much as any fan that has attended games there. There is a unique charm to the SoccerPlex, rooted in remarkable history. The venue has been home to many of the best players in the history of the women’s game, with many of these historic players also playing games there as kid. There is no better venue of its kind in the world than the SoccerPlex. It truly is the “Augusta National” of soccer facilities.
Our decision yesterday has everything to do with forging a path to where our players have world class training facilities, we pack Audi Field for every Spirit match played there, and our players have the best match experience in the world. It is really that simple. I understand that there are fans that have some emotion about this.
I ask you to think of the players and what you think is best for them. Think about the players you love having a world-class training venue in 2021 that provides them the same resources as their male counterparts. Think about the growth of the fan base the next two years that hopefully leads to the players you love playing 10+ games per year at a packed Audi Field. Everything our club does is focused on serving our players, achieving the things that are most important to them, and in turn enable them to provide our fans an incredible product. We have numerous other things in process that we will soon be announcing that I hope you see as further supporting our players.
As for Audi Field, we played two matches at there this year and they were incredible experiences for our players and fans. Audi Field was packed and the place rocked. It showed us what was possible. It told us we must develop a plan where Audi Field becomes our center of the universe. Yesterday was the reveal of that plan.
Before we played our matches at Audi, we started discussions with DC United about the future. Steve Kaplan, Jason Levien, Andy Bush and their colleagues at DC United have been great throughout this process and have provided me great counsel as to what the best path to Audi looked like. DC United shared with us their plans in everything they are doing. We discussed their plans in DC, their plans in Loudoun County, and together developed the partnership we announced yesterday. I thank everyone with DC United for this partnership.
Throughout this process, we shared all that we were discussing with DC United with the Maryland SoccerPlex. Matt Libber and his colleagues as well as the board members of the Maryland Soccer Foundation have also provided great counsel and advice. During this process I also consulted with our players, many of our current season ticket holders, and area leaders involved in the game. We also conducted several fan surveys and reviewed all communications we have received from our fans. What we heard from our players is that they wanted a world-class training facility and a path to play 10+ of our matches annually at Audi Field. While not unanimous, overwhelmingly you (our fans) wanted to see us play all of our matches at Audi Field. Based on this input, we developed the approach we announced.
So, with that background, here are the highlights of our new partnership with DC United:
- In 2020 we will play 4 league matches at Audi Field, 4 at the Maryland SoccerPlex, and 4 at Segra Field.
- In 2020, the SoccerPlex will be our training home. After 2020, we will work with the SoccerPlex to play a preseason match at the venue as well as other ways to maintain a presence at the venue.
- In 2021, we will move our training home to the new training facility DC United is constructing by Segra Field. This new training facility provides the best of everything for our players. In one location we will have our locker room, training fields, health and wellness, laundry, food, strength and conditioning, video/technology, and recovery.
- In 2021, we will play 7 games at Audi Field and 5 at Segra Field.
- Assuming successful attendance numbers at Audi Field in 2020 and 2021, we will look to play 10+ games annually at Audi starting in 2022. The shared objective of the Washington Spirit and DC United is for us to play 10+ games at Audi Field, but we are both committed to making the transition to Audi when we know attendance there is enduring. We want to do this right. DC United wants to do this right.
Additionally, we will be offering our fans round trip transportation from Germantown to Audi Field and Segra Field for matches we play at those venues….and for our fans that come from outside of Loudoun County to Segra Field we will implement a program that eliminates the cost of using the toll road and Greenway.
As I have said many times, our fans are part of this journey every step of the way. We take great pride in listening to your thoughts and ideas and responding to things we need to improve. My personal hope is that the things we did this year has earned your trust in our club. The 4-4-4 approach in 2020 may be unconventional, but we really believe it is the best way to further grow our fan base. Our players support this strategy. I ask you to support this plan.
I hope you see this move as being responsive to our players desire and YOUR desire to play the most possible games at Audi in an environment even better than what you experienced this past season.
Thank you for your support. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.