Springfield complex creates venues for a variety of sports

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Photo courtesy The Pinkston Group

More than 7,000 people, including Alex Ovechkin, captain of the NHL champion Washington Capitals, turned out for the September grand opening of The St. James in Springfield.

The turnout bodes well for the 450,000-square-foot sports and wellness complex, which expects to employ more than 300 people during its first year.

The 20-acre campus is the first project of co-founders Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon. They plan to open a similar complex in the Chicago suburbs in 2021. “We are actively pursuing expansion across the country,” says Dixon.

The cost of the Springfield complex wasn’t disclosed. Its financial backers include Cain International, a real estate investment firm. 

The St. James was inspired by childhood experiences of Ashton and Dixon who were involved in a variety of sports. “We had a clear recollection of times in the car just trying to get from place to place,” Dixon says.

The founders wanted to create a destination that would consolidate a number of sports venues. “We started working on the idea in earnest in 2013,” says Ashton “We tried to approach the business in a very analytical way.”

They decided the Northern Virginia area was an “extraordinary market to build a destination based on people passionate about being active,” Ashton says. “There was a lack of supply of comparable offerings in the region. The cherry on top was the fact that Craig and I grew up in this region. We have deep and broad networks here that would help us be successful.”

St. James’ facilities range from two ice rinks to a 10,000-square-foot gymnastics center, a soccer field, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a 50,000-square-foot health club.

An active-entertainment center has a 6,000-square-foot water park that opened in September. Opening in November are a 25,000-square-foot area housing obstacle courses, virtual-reality studios and party rooms plus a retail area with a restaurant and café.

The company’s health-care partner, MedStar, is scheduled to open an on-site health and sports medicine center next spring. “We think we have something for everybody,” Ashton says.

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