Commanders file plans to turn Loudoun County practice facility into data centers — but no time soon

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A Washington Commanders training field is seen during an NFL football practice at Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Va., Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)(AP/Luis M. Alvarez)

The Washington Commanders have filed a site plan to turn their practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia, into a data center complex — but that is not expected to happen any time soon.

The NFL team filed the site plan under the corporate entity Scoreboard Landco Borrower LLC, which owns the property at 21300 Coach Gibbs Drive, where the team currently trains and has its corporate headquarters. The facility has four outdoor practice fields and one indoor field under an inflated bubble.

The property, which totals about 44 acres, including 5 acres in a flood plain, is at Gloucester Parkway and Loudoun County Parkway, just west of Route 28. It is surrounded by numerous other data centers. The Washington football team has trained there since the early 1990s.

Specifics of the site plan were not available online Monday afternoon, but Loudoun County officials told The Burn, which first reported the news, that they knew this was in the works — and it doesn’t mean the Commanders are leaving the area anytime soon.

“This isn’t a surprise. We were aware this was coming,” said Buddy Rizer, Loudoun’s director of economic development. “[The Commanders] have been very transparent with us.”

Rizer went on to tell the Burn that the move was more about the Commanders preserving the value of their land for all potential future uses, and that there are no actual plans to build data centers on the property at this time.

Instead, by filing now and getting the needed approvals in place, the Commanders would be “grandfathering in” their property under the current rules should there be future changes to regulations or laws that could adversely affect that value of the land, he explained.

“We know that data center land sells for a premium,” Rizer said. “Not having those rights secured impacts land values. They are just making a smart business decision.”

He added that the county hopes that the Commanders keep their training facility in Ashburn for years to come and hopes to see the team expand its footprint in Loudoun as well.

A Commanders’ spokesperson said the team remains committed to Virginia.

“Loudoun County is where many of our coaches, players and employees not only work, but also call home,” the spokesperson said.

“Our intention in filing for this approval is to secure the option and flexibility for possible future development on our 162-acre site, and it is not a plan to take any action in the near future. Any development we do will be leveraged to reinvest in our football program and fan experience.”

The Commanders are looking for a home for a new stadium after their current lease at Commanders Field (formerly FedEx Field) in Landover, Md., expires in 2027. The site of the former RFK Stadium in Washington is considered to be the leading contender.

Other locations under consideration are in Northern Virginia — including the Sterling and Woodbridge areas — and Maryland.

Initial plans for the stadium floated in 2022 under previous owner Dan Snyder included a training facility in the same complex, but it’s not clear whether that would still be in the plans or whether a training facility would be located elsewhere.

Since new owner John Harris and his partners bought the team last summer, they have made some upgrades to the Commanders’ Ashburn facility. The most recent major change has been to replace an artificial turf practice field that hasn’t been used for years.

A map of the area is below.

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