The Washington Spirit will play all of their home matches at 20,000-seat Audi Field starting in 2023, the NWSL club announced Thursday.
The Spirit have reached a multiyear agreement with MLS club D.C. United to host its home schedule at the stadium in Washington, D.C. The team split its home games between Audi Field and the much-criticized 5,000-seat Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia, for the last two seasons.
Segra Field plays host to Loudoun United, D.C. United’s minor league affiliate, but received criticism from the Spirit and from their opponents for its artificial turf and lack of amenities.
Gotham FC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris called out Segra Field for being a “high school field” in March.
“It’s an abomination that a professional game has to be played on something like this,” former Spirit coach Kris Ward said of the venue in August.
The Spirit averaged 8,914 fans in six regular-season matches at Audi Field in 2022, compared to 2,991 in five matches at Segra Field. And the NWSL has raised its seating minimum for stadiums to 10,000, so the Spirit would have required an exemption from the league to stay at the Leesburg site, the Washington Post reported.
“I want to thank our fans who have steadfastly supported the club through highs and lows, especially those who came to Segra in the last three years,” Spirit owner Michele Kang said. “Moving all our games to Audi will allow us to build a truly premier, professional and proudly D.C. women’s soccer team.”
IT’S HAPPENING!Every single Spirit home game will be at @AudiField beginning in 2023!More info: https://t.co/EGbWThNyao pic.twitter.com/H94S2u3vU3— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) December 6, 2022
IT’S HAPPENING!Every single Spirit home game will be at @AudiField beginning in 2023!More info: https://t.co/EGbWThNyao pic.twitter.com/H94S2u3vU3
The new Audi Field deal includes all regular season matches, as well as any potential playoff matches and Challenge Cup games, per the Washington Post. The deal also allows the Spirit to continue to use D.C. United’s training center in Leesburg.
“It is one of the best professional soccer stadiums in the country and it is where our club belongs,” Spirit president of soccer operations Mark Krikorian said of Audi Field. “We are looking to dominate in the District.”
While the financial terms were not disclosed, the Spirit will spend much more on facility costs then they did under their previous deal, a source familiar with the plans told the Washington Post.