Regions Northern Virginia

Former Olympic skater to open arena in Loudoun County

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Print this page by Hope Katz Gibbs
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Luiz Taifas and wife, Mitra Setayesh, are the CEO and COO of the
ION International Training Center. Photo by Stephen Gosling

An ice arena opening in Leesburg on May 31 is expected to raise Loudoun County’s profile as a sports destination.

The 100,000-square-foot ION International Training Center will double the county’s capacity to host ice-related sports events. The arena is expected to attract hockey tournaments as well as speed-skating and figure-skating competitions.

“This new facility will enhance our product offerings in this valuable market,” says Beth Erickson, president and CEO of Visit Loudoun. “This is the largest venue of its kind between Raleigh, N.C., and Hershey, Pa.”

ION will feature two National Hockey League-size rinks. The facility also will have 3,500 seats for spectators and 1,000 parking spaces. In addition, the arena can host activities that aren’t sports related, including graduations and concerts. 

ION eventually will employ up to 200 people, says former Olympic figure skater Luiz Taifas, the co-founder and CEO of ION. He and his wife, Mitra Setayesh, ION’s chief operating officer, own the company.

“I never could understand why the D.C. area didn’t have a world-class ice training center,” says Taifas, a Leesburg resident who has been coaching skaters in Reston for 20 years. “I complained about it to Mitra, and she finally convinced me to open ION.”

On Nov. 1, 2017, they broke ground on the facility, which is located at 19201 Compass Creek Parkway, SE.  ION sits on 16.5 acres near Leesburg Executive Airport. The project cost $24 million.

“From the moment we met Luiz and Mitra, we knew they had the dedication, passion and drive to turn their vision into reality,” says Taylor Chess, president of development at the Fairfax-based Peterson Cos., the project’s developer.  The ION site is in the company’s 550-acre Compass Creek retail, office and entertainment development.

“ION offers tremendous recreational opportunities and will provide Loudoun County and Leesburg with a premiere facility to attract prominent youth sporting events and tournaments from around the country and boost tourism,” he says.

Tourism from sports tournaments brought more than 20,000 visitors to Loudoun in 2016 to watch or participate in 19 events, according to a study conducted by The George Washington University School of Business. Visitors spent about $20.5 million and helped generate $1.2 million in tax revenue.

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