In a Leesburg, Virginia, neighborhood wary of more traffic due to the new Loudoun United soccer complex, the results of Friday night’s first sold-out game were approximately the same as on the field — a draw.
An unexpected complication surfaced: Mobile mapping software brought some drivers heading to the game to a barricade blocking traffic in the Kincaid Forest neighborhood, located a few hundred yards from the stadium.
Late Monday morning, Loudoun United team officials and county government officials debriefed themselves on what worked and what didn’t in terms of traffic in and out of the stadium complex as well as parking. The stadium is located within Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park, across Sycolin Road from Leesburg Executive Airport.
“There were no traffic incidents, however there were some delays and backups getting into the stadium as one would expect with 5,000 people attending an event,” according to a statement by Steve Torpy, director of Loudoun County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, which is responsible for managing traffic at the new stadium.
At the end of May, Loudoun County opened a portion of Crosstrail Boulevard to provide a second entry route to the stadium from Sycolin. Witnesses reported traffic backed up on Crosstrail, as cars entered newly paved parking lots.
“Some adjustments were made throughout the hour leading up to game time to ensure traffic kept moving as quickly as possible,” according to Torpy.
“Exiting the venue, all stadium traffic had cleared the lots within 35 minutes of the end of the game.”
Torpy said “fine tuning of the plans will continue as we plan for future games.” To minimize congestion, he suggested that fans arrive early and enjoy pregame activities inside the stadium as well as pre-pay for parking online through the Colonial Parking website, which is also linked on the Loudoun United team website.
Even before Loudoun County landed its first professional sports team, a group of residents in the Kincaid Forest neighborhood had been concerned that a new stadium would bring extra traffic.
Kincaid Boulevard runs between Battlefield Parkway, through the Kincaid Forest neighborhood, to the Bolen Park complex. However, the Leesburg Town Council elected to not open a portion of Kincaid — which would lead to the stadium — citing worried residents.
Yet on Friday night, neighbor Steven Chase told WTOP he watched more than a dozen cars drive down Kincaid Boulevard, unaware that the road behind the town-erected barricade was closed to traffic.
“They’d pull over once they saw the barricades and check their GPS, and then eventually when they figured it out, do a U-turn and head back up Kincaid,” said Chase.
In testing Apple Maps’ suggested routes to the stadium, WTOP confirmed that once a car was on Kincaid Boulevard, the mobile mapping software instructed drivers to follow the road to the stadium, and indicated the road was open.
While Google Maps correctly instructed drivers to enter the stadium via Sycolin, WTOP confirmed that Google maps do not indicate the portion of Kincaid Boulevard near the stadium is closed to traffic.
“Those are the two predominant mapping apps, so hopefully it can be corrected,” Chase said.
For the time being, stadium traffic is supposed to steer clear of his neighborhood, as Loudoun County fast-tracks construction of a still-to-be-built stretch of Crosstrail, connecting Virginia Route 7 to the stadium. When Crosstrail is completed, the town is expected to open Kincaid.
“We have kids in this court on bikes, and I know there’s alcohol being served at the stadium,” said Chase. “I’d really rather not have tons of people coming in and out of the stadium through here.”
Yet Chase is glad the stadium is nearby.
“I’m a soccer fan. I played soccer for a lot of my life, so I’m happy it’s back there. I just think we need to have smart development around it,” he said.
“The County and Loudoun United are both committed to making the fan experience both inside and outside the stadium outstanding while being good neighbors to those around the stadium,” said Torpy. “We will continue to make needed adjustments to ensure this happens.”
Despite initially declaring “we couldn’t have written it better ourselves,” Saturday, in response to a WTOP email, Loudoun United Chief Operating Officer Adam Behnke didn’t respond to several follow-up emails seeking specifics on how well — or poorly — the team’s traffic and parking plans were implemented.
Marketing and communications manager, Emma Carlin, said Behnke “was in meetings all day,” and was unable to take questions from WTOP.