Innovation in Fairfax County: The St. James

The St. James sports and wellness complex in Springfield will offer something for everyone.

Roughly one year since its groundbreaking, The St. James -- expecting to become known as the premier sports, wellness and active entertainment destination in the Washington area -- is set to open its doors near the intersection of interstates 395 and 495 in Springfield.

Workers were still applying finishing touches on the state-of-the-art, first-in-the-nation complex when E-Bird Extra toured the facility earlier this month. Even in its unfinished state, the venue is as impressive as it is massive.

It needs to be both to accommodate more than 30 sports and activities with facilities that include a FIFA-size fieldhouse for soccer, lacrosse, football and rugby, two NHL-size ice rinks, an Olympic-competition regulation pool, six batting cages, seven golf simulators, eight squash courts, plus a family-friendly water park, active entertainment center and lifestyle amenities such as a full-service restaurant, health spa and luxurious locker rooms.

The grand opening is set for this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., during which time the public is invited to not only view but experience many of the amenities the St. James has to offer, from soccer, lacrosse and basketball to hockey, yoga and dance.

The St. James -- all 450,000 square feet of it -- is more than just sports and fitness, say co-founders and co-CEOs Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon.

"There's something for everyone -- from gourmet dining and premium spa services to unparalleled sports, fitness, and active entertainment spaces, including an indoor water park and VR gaming theaters," Ashton says. "We will offer more than 30 sports programs, from developmental programs to competitive leagues. The St. James is about helping athletes of all ages and skill levels maximize their potential."

The company operates on the idea that time is a precious commodity and that existing sports and entertainment options are far too fragmented. That's why it offers so many ways to satisfy the varying interests of different age groups and family members under one roof.

"A highly-synergistic experience," Ashton calls it. "We think it will be great for everyone from your 4-year-old to your grandparents."

The St. James will offer sport-specific training and competition through its developmental programs, in-house and regional competitive leagues, camps and clinics. Additionally, the St. James will host regional tournaments, exhibitions and combines. That could mean more tourism dollars for Fairfax County.

"We expect The St. James to be the epicenter for sports and competitive activities in the region," Ashton said. "We're incredibly excited about becoming a real national beacon for high level sports competition, hospitality and wellness."

Ashton says that sport-specific training, and medical and therapy services in partnership with MedStar Health will make The St. James a haven for athletes of all skill levels, not just elite athletes.

"We have everything from squash and soccer to gymnastics and baseball here at The St. James. But we have programs for four- and five-year-olds all the way up to your Masters level for people 50 and older." Dixon says. "We've assembled a really spectacular team of coaching directors in over 30 sports who will really help elevate your game, whether you are just learning to play or you want to take your game to the collegiate or professional levels."

Dixon is equally excited about what The St. James has to offer beyond sports training and competition.

"Aside from the sports experience we have a premium spa and a premium restaurant we are doing with celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, as well as an active entertainment center with 20,000 square feet of fun called 'Super, Awesome and Amazing.' I can't wait to share it."

FCEDA President and CEO Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., views The St. James as an exciting addition to Fairfax County's list of amenities. "In today's business world, it is vitally important to attract the best men and women to the community to become part of the workforce," Gordon said. "The St. James facility is one of the community amenities that will help accomplish that -- a world-class amenity for a world-lass community."

Ashton sees the Springfield facility, which will employ about 300, as just the start for The St. James, which is backed by investment partner Cain International.

"The Washington region and Fairfax County, in particular, is a fantastic place for us to develop our very first St. James. But we believe there are markets around the country that have similar dynamics in terms of a high demand for a high-quality sports experience," he says, noting that the company plans to open a similar facility outside of Chicago in 2021. "In terms of instruction, products and services, we think this is a real breakthrough."

10 things to know about The St. James

  • Although The St. James is based on a membership model, membership is not required to utilize many of the amenities. "You don't have to be a member to come and enjoy," Dixon says. "We have a multi-access model with multiple 'a la carte' ways to access what works best for you."
  • Spike Mendelsohn's gourmet restaurant Vim & Victor will be open to the public in November. It will include a lounge and quick service area for smoothies, coffee drinks and to-go items. Mendelsohn will be responsible for food and beverage service throughout the building -- an important element of The St. James's focus on hospitality.
  • The St. James will offer a full range of spa services at Courted, its onsite premium med-spa. Services will include: massage, facials, manicures, pedicures as well as cutting-edge wellness treatments such as cryotherapy and IV infusions.
  • A sports medicine healthcare center operated by MedStar Health will provide non-emergency services, including health screenings, corporate wellness programs and pre- and post-operative rehabilitation services.
  • Facilities are convertible and flexible. The Courthouse can transform from four full-size basketball courts to nine NCAA-regulation volleyball courts; the fieldhouse can accommodate football, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby and soccer in a variety of field sizes.
  • "Super, Awesome and Amazing" will offer 25,000 square feet of active entertainment, including an indoor water park, VR gaming setups, birthday party rooms and American Ninja Warrior-inspired obstacle courses. There's a rock climbing wall and zipline.
  • In addition to two ice rinks (each with their own ice-making Zamboni) for hockey, figure skating and speed skating, the Ice House boasts a skating treadmill and Rapid-Shot hockey skills training center.
  • Performance boutique Strivers can outfit patrons with sneakers, performance-oriented (and St. James-branded) apparel, technology and equipment.
  • Members can benefit from free child care services.
  • Beyond standard membership ($169 monthly), options are available for families, children, seniors and members of the military.