Greg Baroni, a tech executive who owns three baseball teams in Maryland, has purchased the controlling ownership stake in Loudoun United, a second-division soccer club launched by D.C. United four years ago, the groups announced Thursday.
The company also gained co-operating rights to Segra Field, a 5,000-seat venue owned by D.C. United, a person familiar the deal said.
Terms were not disclosed and it’s unclear how much ownership stake D.C. United retained in the Leesburg team.
In a statement, Baroni said he looks forward to “building on the momentum that [D.C. United chief executive] Jason Levien and the team have created. I have a tremendous passion for the sport of soccer and am committed to working together to enhance the fan experience and continue to strengthen the connection to the Northern Virginia community.”
Loudoun United competes in the 25-team United Soccer League Championship, which sits one level below MLS. Prioritizing player development over competitive record, the team has never qualified for the playoffs and averaged about 1,500 fans last year. The 34-game schedule this season will begin March 11.
“We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished with the club and are confident that the sale and introduction of Greg Baroni and Attain Sports and Entertainment into the ownership group will take us to new heights,” Levien said in a statement.
D.C. United saw Baroni’s business connections — he founded consulting and private equity firms and chairs the Northern Virginia Technology Council — as a way to better monetize Segra Field. Aside from Loudoun United, the stadium is home to Old Glory DC, a pro rugby team, but does not stage many other events.
The NWSL’s Washington Spirit will no longer play at Segra Field, opting instead to schedule all home dates at Audi Field, the 20,000-capacity venue in the District that’s owned by D.C. United.
The Loudoun ownership change comes as MLS and the USL ramp down their relationship. For player development purposes, MLS organizations for years had a majority ownership stake or affiliation with clubs in the USL Championship or USL League One, a third-division circuit.
Last year, though, MLS largely set out on its own in nurturing players by launching a third-division league, MLS Next Pro. D.C. United continued operating Loudoun United in the USL Championship but, in the long term, it’s planning to launch an MLS Next Pro team in greater Baltimore in a few years.
With greater independence, Loudoun United has become eligible to compete in the U.S. Open Cup, the 109-year-old tournament, modeled after the English FA Cup, involving teams from all levels of American soccer.