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Discovery Communications Leaving Montgomery County Should Not Affect Maryland SoccerPlex

Earlier this week, it was announced that Discovery Communications is selling its Silver Spring building and heading to New York. While that news sent shockwaves through the entire County, in Germantown folks began to wonder about the Discovery Sports Center which is located in the Maryland SoccerPlex. How, if at all, would the move impact that location?

Thankfully, according to Trish Heffelfinger, Executive Director of the Maryland SoccerPlex, the move will not have any impact. “I don’t think it will affect us much at all. While Discovery is the name of the building it has not been a funded sponsorship for many years. We have remained the Discovery Sports Center, partly for branding but mostly out of respect and gratitude to the Hendricks Family for their support of the SoccerPlex. The stadium is named Maureen Hendricks Field,” said Heffelfinger. “I don’t know exactly what will happen now.”

Maureen Hendricks and her husband John played a vital role in funding and organizing the creation of the Maryland SoccerPlex, which opened in October 2000. They wanted a place for their daughter, Elizabeth, and the rest of the community to be able to play on well-maintained fields in a professional environment. John, the founder and chairman of Discovery Communications, was a catalyst for the initial planning, taking a leadership role in negotiations with the Montgomery County local government and Maryland Soccer Foundation.

“Of course it is a huge loss for Silver Spring to lose a large employer like that, and the anchor of that area. I am hopeful that another large employer will go in there,” said Heffelfinger. “But, for us it may provide us with an opportunity to look for another naming right for the facility.”

A memo was sent to Discovery Communications employees earlier this week reading, “Today I am announcing plans for a new Discovery global real estate strategy and footprint,” wrote Discovery CEO David Zaslav according to a report by the MoCo Show this morning.

“Chief among these changes,” wrote Zaslav, “we have made the decision to move our global headquarters to New York City. We have therefore made the difficult decision to reduce our footprint in Maryland over time, with the ultimate closure and sale of our One Discovery Place headquarters building in Silver Spring, expected in 2019.”

The company employs about 1,300 full-time employees.

County Executive Ike Leggett released a statement about Discovery leaving the County. “I was disappointed to hear of the corporate decision by Discovery Communications to move its headquarters from downtown Silver Spring, where they have been located since 2003. Certainly these are challenging times in the communications industry and the recent Scripps merger involving Discovery undoubtedly had a significant impact.”

“Notwithstanding these changes in objective conditions, Montgomery County has been in discussions with Discovery in the past months since the merger in an effort to respond to the challenges faced by an independent television, entertainment, and education channel in a radically-changing industry. The County and State made a substantial proposal designed to accommodate Discovery’s challenges. Together, we were ready to provide considerable incentives to retain their presence in the County,” said Leggett.

“I know this was a tough decision for Discovery. I respect the contributions Discovery has made over the last 15 years to Silver Spring and Montgomery County,” Leggett added, “We will miss them.”

Photos by Germantown Pulse.