More than a year ago, the Washington Spirit prepared to make Segra Field in Leesburg, a 5,000-person capacity soccer stadium in Loudoun County, one of its home fields. The idea was to expand the Spirit’s fanbase with the hope of eventually moving the majority, if not all, of their matches to the 20,000-person capacity Audi Field in D.C.
Then a global pandemic happened, and the team never got to play in front of fans at either location last season. The Spirit did not sell tickets to the two matches it played at Segra Field as part of the NWSL Fall Series last year.
But earlier this week, the Spirit announced it will host matches and fans at Segra Field for the NWSL Challenge Cup on April 16 against Racing Louisville FC and on April 27 against Sky Blue FC. The Spirit will also play away games on April 10 against the North Carolina Courage and on April 21 against the Orlando Pride.
A team spokesperson tells City Paper the team will allow “a maximum of 1,000 people” at each match at Segra Field. As of March 1, Loudoun County has allowed outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues “to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower.”
During the offseason, the Spirit added several new pieces to the team, including World Cup champions Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett. The team, led by director of football and head coach Richie Burke, drafted rising star Trinity Rodman with the No. 2 overall pick in January’s NWSL draft.
Burke told reporters last week that the Spirit is also set to host Sky Blue FC on March 28 at Audi Field, pending an official waiver approval from the D.C. government.
“My understanding is that’s now been … agreed to,” he said. “I think it now comes down a kickoff time that we’re looking for, and it’s going to be at Audi is my understanding.”
A team spokesperson says the team is “still finalizing some details” on the match, and it is unclear whether or not any fans will be allowed. Earlier this month, D.C. denied the Washington Nationals’ request to host fans at Nationals Park but plans to revisit the request before the season begins in April.