Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Whitecaps Stadium: A Call to Action For Soccer

Hockey may grab the headlines, but no other sport embraces the spirit of British Columbia the way soccer does. Across the province, soccer plays a huge role in the daily lives of men, women & children, and it remains the only sport that breaks through every national and cultural barrier known to humanity. The joy of soccer is the great equalizer for all of us, and we all have a responsibility to share and grow our game.

That's why if you're involved in soccer in any way, as a player, coach or fan of the game, you have a stake in ensuring the success of the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. And now is the time to participate.

Last October, the Vancouver Whitecaps proposed to build a spectacular new stadium on Vancouver's downtown waterfront. This shrine to the game will host both the Whitecaps' womens' and mens' teams, International soccer & rugby events, local soccer teams, multicultural festivals, concerts, and even the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. With direct access to Skytrain, the RAV line, West Coast Express, buses, seabus, seaplanes, and tens of thousands of parking spaces within a ten minute walk, it will be one of the most easily accessible stadiums in the world. The Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium is a tremendous gift to both the City of Vancouver and Canadian Soccer by the team's owner Greg Kerfoot, as it will be built on private land with private money.

But the stadium still needs to be approved by the municipal government before the project can start, and now is the time to let your voice be heard. The City of Vancouver is about to hold public meetings on the stadium and we need to let City Council know that there is broad public support for the project. The City of Vancouver is also accepting written submissions, so if you believe in the stadium project, but don't necessarily live in Vancouver, you can also participate. You can find the dates and locations for the meetings listed below. Every voice counts in this process!

This stadium is critical to the evolution of soccer in our city and country.

Take the United States, for example. Over the past decade, the United States has built a top flight professional league and modern stadiums devoted entirely to soccer. Their efforts have paid off with regular appearances in the World Cup, and a Quarter-Final finish in 2002. Their best players now have the choice to play professionally at home instead of abroad, and the U.S. have taken huge leaps towards their goal of being a serious contender for the World Cup in 2010. A new downtown stadium in Vancouver, along with an eventual jump to Major League Soccer could give Canadians the same opportunity.

The opportunities for Womens' soccer are tremendous as well. A new stadium would bolster Canada's future bid to host the Womens' World Cup, and provide greater exposure for the many national team members who play for the Whitecaps Women. The Whitecaps stadium would inspire new generations of female players for decades to come.

There are also benefits for Vancouver's large and diverse multicultural community. No sport unites the world the way soccer does. The Whitecaps Stadium will play host to the best international teams from around the world, and provide an attractive, inclusive venue to celebrate our rich cultural fabric.

So you see, we all have a stake in making this happen.

It's important to note that there are opponents of the stadium in Vancouver's downtown eastside. They include residents and activists who are generally opposed to private development in the area. Other opponents are property owners who are concerned with how the stadium will affect their views, traffic patterns and property values. Some intend to use the stadium proposal as a platform to air grievances on matters completely unrelated to the stadium, such as social housing, drug rehab centers and the lack of parks in the area. While these are views that should be listened to, respected and addressed, the opponents of the proposal should not be allowed to derail the benefits and positive economic impacts of the Whitecaps Stadium with issues that are not directly related to the Stadium project. That is why your support is so important.

Getting involved can be as simple as writing an e-mail to the mayor and city councilors, attending a community meeting, or by making a written submission to the Central Area Planning office of the City of Vancouver. For more information on what you can do to help make the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium a reality, visit www.friendsofsoccer.org.

Here are the list of Open Houses:

Monday, March 6, 2:00pm - 8:00pm
W Room at Woodwards,
101 West Hastings Street

Tuesday, March 7, 3:00pm - 8:00pm
Storyeum Lobby,
142 Water Street

Wednesday, March 8, 2:00pm - 8:00pm
Harbour Centre Lobby (Hastings Entrance),
555 West Hastings Street

Saturday, March 11, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Vancouver Public Library,
Central Branch - Promenade,
350 West Georgia Street

You can find details on the project and the time frame for the City Planning report at:

http://www.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/currentplanning/whitecaps//review.htm

1 comment:

Andrew Chobaniuk said...

thanks for the efforts!
i linked friendsofsoccer.org on the Vancouver Southsiders website