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World-class ice rink, events venue breaks ground in Leesburg

Plans for region’s newest world-class ice rink. Times-Mirror/Alexander Todd Erkiletian
The region’s newest world-class indoor ice rink broke ground Wednesday morning.

By next summer, ION International Training Center plans to open its doors within the Peterson Companies’ 550-acre Compass Creek retail, office and entertainment development just outside of Leesburg.

The 100,000-square-foot venue will feature two National Hockey League-size rinks for recreational and professional sports, and the owners hope to attract top skaters from around the world.

So far, several national sporting events and tournaments have been booked at the facility for 2019.

For years, former Olympic figure skater and Romanian national champion Luiz Taifas, ION’s owner, said he often wondered why the region around the nation’s capital did not have an international Olympic ice arena.

After more than a decade of complaining, with the encouragement of his wife Mitra Setayesh and others, Taifas said they began putting together plans for the ice rink.

“My life since I was six has been in ice rinks, either participating or competing,” Taifas said. “Going to these ice rinks, I kept note of what was done right and what was done wrong, and this needs to be done right.”

Putting together the plans took more than a year. They then began pitching the idea to Leesburg and county officials and investors -- an idea he said many instantly fell in love with.

Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said the facility would be a key part of Loudoun’s sporting events industry.

The facility will include a multi-use floor that can quickly be converted to host other events like concerts, political gatherings, graduations and other sports tournaments.

One of the ice rinks will have stadium seating that will be able to accommodate 3,500 to 4,200 people for ice shows, hockey games and tournaments. Once converted, the arena can hold up to 5,500 people.

County officials, owner Luiz Taifas and his wife Mitra Setayesh and fellow Olympic figure skater Michael Weiss break ground on ION International Training Center. Times-Mirror/Alexander Todd Erkiletian

The facility will also offer beginner skating lessons, group lessons and camps as well as elite coaching for hockey, figure skating, pair, dance and synchronized skating.

“We see this as a catalyst for a lot more development out here,” said Peterson Companies President of Development Taylor Chess. “The town has been very active in trying to support tourism, the county with Visit Loudoun. This will promote tourism as well as an activity for the residents. We’ve got a lot of new residents in the area, a lot of young families, we’ve got great sports venues across the street, we’ve got county sports venues on the other side of the street.”

Fellow Olympic figure skater and longtime friend of Taifas, Michael Weiss, also attended Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

Weiss recalled practicing with Olympic figure skaters like Brian Boitano and Scott Hamilton at the age of 12, and how that experience inspired him.

With addition of ION in the community, where some of the world’s best figure skaters and hockey players will frequent, he said he was excited to see what type of new local talent the ice rink would help inspire.

While a spokesman for Bendure Communications, the firm handling public relations for ION, said earlier this week that Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin would attend Wednesday's groundbreaking, Ovechkin did not attend due to a scheduling conflict, according to ION officials.

Alexander Todd Erkiletian contributed to this report.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.


another example of LoCo just giving the county away to any developer who waves such silly things in front of their dazed eyes. When will our leaders realize they should be taking care of those of us who are here, not worried about enticing even more needy residents. There comes a time where you have to say enough is enough. Do any of the BOS look at how other parts of the country handle growth? They just pace it in and not just open the door to rampant development that will never pay for itself. LoCo has always had poor leadership in the name of growth…sad.

“two National Hockey League-size rinks”

An NHL-sized rink is 85 feet wide.

So, I take this to mean there will NOT be an Olympic-sized rink (100 feet wide) in this new facility, right?

If that is true, what’s the point of complaining about “the nation’s capital did not have an international Olympic ice arena” if you’re not going to make one of the two new rinks Olympic-sized (100 feet wide)?

Plus, as previously pointed out, one of the two existing rinks in Reston is Olympic-sized.

@Chris McHale, the article says DC lacks an “international Olympic ice arena”, the key word being “arena”, like 5,000 seats.  Reston does have an Olympic size sheet of ice, but it sits maybe 100.  And yes, Ashburn and Reston are overbooked.  I can’t wait for this thing to open.

The breaking ground tradition should be retired – generally free promotion for elected officials.

More power to the Taifas. I hear stories of how hard it is to get rink time in Ashburn.

While I think the area could use another rink because the Reston and Ashburn rinks seem over booked, I’m not sure I understand the logic of the article.  It states that the idea was sprung from the lack of an Olympic size rink, yet one is available in Reston.  Despite the need for another Olympic size rink the arena will feature two NHL sized rinks, but does not mention a third rink.

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