The St. James co-founders Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon, with scissors, are joined by local and state politicians Sept. 15 for the official ribbon cutting grand opening of The St. James sports and wellness complex in Springfield.
Photo by John Bordner/The Connection
“We tried to create an environment that is special.” —The St. James co-founder and 1993 EHS graduate Craig Dixon
Ten-year-old Derek Potts was one of the first in line when The St. James mega sports complex opened Sept. 15 in Springfield. Along with his mother Maurisa and father David, the Alexandria resident had a membership before the building was even completed.
“I’m really excited about the indoor water park,” said Derek, who was on hand as sports stars and politicians celebrated the grand opening of The St. James, a 450,000-square-foot sports, wellness and active entertainment complex.
“This is a major investment in our youth,” said Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who attended the College of William and Mary with co-founders Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon. “The St. James sends a signal to our county and to the country what it means to have a vision and to dream big.”
Super Bowl champion Darrell Green and Stanley Cup champion Alex Ovechkin, a founding member of the St. James, were on hand for the opening day festivities.
“This is a great place to spend time with the family,” Ovechkin said “It’s a place to help raise sport, be healthy and just have fun.”
Five years ago, Ashton and Dixon, a 1993 graduate of Episcopal High School, first approached the City of Alexandria with a proposal to build the complex on the 15-acre Hensley Park land located between Eisenhower Avenue and the Capital Beltway. The 2013 bid was withdrawn less than two months later when it was discovered that a 40-year-old covenant prevented the construction of such a facility at that site.
In a statement, then-Mayor Bill Euille wished the men well "in finding a suitable location for their innovative facility." That location turned out to be a 20-acre campus at the intersection of I-395 and I-495 in Fairfax County.
Opening day showcased the facilities at The St. James, which includes a FIFA regulation-sized turf field, four full-length regulation basketball courts that convert into nine volleyball courts, two NHL regulation-sized ice rinks, a 50-meter Olympic regulation-sized competition pool, six batting cages and pitching machines, a squash and golf center, gymnastics center, a climbing and bouldering wall, a water park and a 50,000 square-foot health club.
Also on site are a medispa and a retail store featuring performance-oriented activewear. Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn will open a cafe in November and a MedStar Health and Sports Medicine Center is slated to open in the spring.
Following their time together in college, Ashton pursued a career in finance and Dixon a career in law. Five years ago, they collaborated on their vision for The St. James.
“We participated in youth sports and now we are parents of kids participating in youth sports,” Dixon said. “We are the customer and we tried to create an environment that is special.”
The St. James, a 24-hour membership based facility, expects to open a second flagship destination in the northern suburbs of Chicago in early 2021 and is working to bring The St. James to additional markets around the country.
“Today is incredibly gratifying,” Ashton said. “We had a vision to provide a deep array of services to the D.C. region – to bring together all ages and all walks of life. Today shows that is possible.”
For more information, visit www.thestjames.co.