Wednesday, May 31, 2006
"Gastown has never provided a connection to the waterfront. In fact, the historic fabric turns its back to the water. I would argue that to follow Jon Stovell's suggestion and replicate Coal Harbour's condo towers set in park land with panoramic views on the land north of Gastown would be more disrespectful to the tight urban form of the historic area than an entertainment district at the base of a stadium that incorporates appropriate scale and massing for the context."
I encourage everyone to read her thought provoking article:
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Dear Mayor Sullivan and Council
My name is Bill Currie and I'm a West End resident. I'm also the founder of the Friends of Soccer movement (www.friendsofsoccer.org). Since October, Friends of Soccer has been educating and encouraging the Citizens of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to express their support for the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium through letters, e-mails, phone calls & postcards. Although you may not recognize us as of yet, over 1000 citizens have used our movement to contact you and your colleagues in the month of May alone. In fact, Council will be receiving delivery of over 600 postcards in favour of the Whitecaps stadium on Tuesday, May 30.
As you are no doubt aware, the proposed stadium enjoys broad, deep, overwhelming support among the voters of Vancouver. As you are also no doubt aware, the city's technical report cites concerns as well. As citizens, we all want to ensure a safe, accessible facility. However, we believe that these concerns are best addressed through a proper re-zoning process, where the Whitecaps are allowed to submit a proper design without the artificial constraints placed on them in the high-level review process. It would allow for an additional round of indepth public consultation that would address these issues. An extended Waterfront Hub study represents an unacceptable delay for this much needed facility, and we feel that in the end, the result of such a study will only serve the interests of condo developers, architects and urban designers; not the citizens of Vancouver.
I understand that you are under intense pressure from the small number of opponents to this project. I also understand that there is internal pressure as well from City Staff, and in some cases, former campaign staff. Please listen to their concerns, of course. But, I also invite you to consider the need for this project and to listen to what the vast majority of citizens are saying. Our website www.friendsofsoccer.org provides a plethora of articles and information on the benefits the stadium will bring. Between now and the upcoming June vote, I will be forwarding you all that we write, and I'll be encouraging the Citizens of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to contact you to show their support for this project. After all, it's the Citizens of Vancouver who should always have the final say over what serves the greater public interest.
Friends of Soccer
Saturday, May 27, 2006
"Vancouver's genius has been to harvest the collective collaboration of many points of view, and reaching an excellence of urbanity that is recognized worldwide as being far superior to thunderbolts of architectural ego.", Mr. McGarva said in his letter. "We believe that the best foundation for a waterfront hub master plan is our vision for contributing, through private investment, a community asset that adds vitality to the city on a sustainable basis."
Mr. McGarva's firm, Via Architecture, has a distinguished record when it comes to urban design along Vancouver's Waterfront, transportation infrastructure, and combining modern design within a heritage framework. Some of Via's recent award winning urban design & planning projects include:
Concord Pacific Place
Quayside Village (Yaletown)
System Wide Design for both the Millenium & Expo Skytrain lines
The Roundhouse Community Centre & Neighbourhood
General Motors Place
"If you look at the scope of Via's projects, you can certainly tell who's truly responsible for creating the modern Vancouver we live, work and travel in everyday." said Friends of Soccer organizer and West End resident Bill Currie. "While Mr. Erickson and Mr.Thom have wonderful accomplishments of their own, neither of them have had anywhere near the influence over Vancouver's Waterfront as Mr. McGarva's firm has."
"Via Architecture's revolutionary design for the Roundhouse Community Centre is a prime example of their ability to combine heritage with modern urban design. They created a venue that is welcoming and inclusive for all Vancouver Citizens; not just it's elites. To suggest that Mr. MrGarva is incapable of creating a fantastic stadium for the downtown area is just prepostorous. It flies in the face of the reality that is Vancouver " said Currie.
Via Architecture is also responsible for the urban planning ideals behind General Motors Place, one of the most successful private arena developments in North America. Neither Mr.Erickson or Mr.Thom have successfully built a sports stadium, although Mr.Thom recently put forward a design for the 2010 Olympics Speed Skating Oval that was consequently rejected.
While there are conceptual drawings of the stadium (Click here to see), there is currently no formal design for the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. Design concerns will be addressed once the proposal goes to the re-zoning stage following a June 15 vote by City Council.
"We have faith in Vancouver, its people and its civic processes, and trust eventually we may be asked what our stadium proposal actually is," Mr. McGarva wrote in his letter. "We are welcoming the input that the high level review is providing, and are in tune with its findings. Rome was not built in a day, and the book of life is far richer and more complex than a one-day headline, trumpeting misunderstandings, and turning intelligent questions into slogans of judgment."
The full content of Mr.McGarva's letter can be found below. To support the pro-stadium campaign, please visit www.friendsofsoccer.org.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Re: Architects join anti-stadium camp, May 25
Vancouver's genius has been to harvest the collective collaboration of many points of view, and reaching an excellence of urbanity that is recognized worldwide as being far superior to thunderbolts of architectural ego. The "reference scenario" of the Waterfront Stadium for the Whitecaps soccer team is just what the term says, an artificially isolated scenario that is an opening frame of reference for the process of dialogue that we are now about to begin.
We believe that the best foundation for a waterfront hub master plan is our vision for contributing, through private investment, a community asset that adds vitality to the city on a sustainable basis.
We have faith in Vancouver, its people and its civic processes, and trust eventually we may be asked what our stadium proposal actually is.
We are welcoming the input that the high level review is providing, and are in tune with its findings. Rome was not built in a day, and the book of life is far richer and more complex than a one-day headline, trumpeting misunderstandings, and turning intelligent questions into slogans of judgment.
Principal, Via Architecture
Friday, May 26, 2006
We urge everyone to come to Gastown and support these businesses in their courageous stand. You can find a list of them here!
(By the way, on a personal note, I had breakfast at Brioche in Gastown on Sunday...THE BEST OMELETTE EVER! FABULOUS!)
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Here's the content from the Friends of Soccer flyer circulated at the Heritage Vancouver Forum on Thursday night. The panel featured a very strong presentation and defense of the stadium from Whitecaps President John Rocha and architect Graham McGarva, as well as questions from Friends of Soccer that challenged opponent's vision of of the lands without railway tracks. The panel went very well for the yes side, considering it was supposed to be an ambush by anti-stadium forces..
The Facts about Heritage and the Stadium
Much misinformation has been spread over the last few days regarding the Whitecaps proposed Waterfront Stadium project. No doubt, some of that misinformation will be repeated at tonight's panel. Indeed, the very title of tonight's panel; Gastown up against the wall; brings visions of a gulag being built, as opposed to a gathering place for all citizens and a shrine for soccer.
We are the Friends of Soccer. We're a grassroots community group dedicated to supporting soccer projects as well as the Whitecaps Stadium. As both soccer supporters and responsible citizens, we all want to help create an inclusive, welcoming, vibrant city. That's why we're here to dispel some myths about the proposed stadium.
Is a Stadium Compatible with Heritage?
Stadiums much larger than the one proposed comfortably co-exist with heritage districts across North America and throughout the world.. Two neighbouring stadiums are credited for re-vitalizing Seattle's Pioneer Square, an area that is very similar to Gastown. Petco Park in San Diego, Jacob's Field in Cleveland, and Camden Yards in Baltimore are fine examples of creative use of heritage sites. Pac Bell Park added new life to San Francisco's vibrant waterfront.
In Europe, compact stadiums like the one proposed routinely exist in heritage and residential areas. London alone has 14 stadiums that hold 15,000 spectators or more. In Edniburgh, Scotland, a large football stadium lies less than a block from a castle. There are also examples in Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Ireland, Turkey, Greece, Spain, and many other nations.
The Stadium as Heritage
When properly designed, the stadium itself becomes a heritage site over time. Stadiums often become places of pilgrimage for fans and are recognized around the world as shrines for their sport. For example, citizens of Chicago and Boston couldn't imagine a city without Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. The Olympic Stadiums in Helsinki, Berlin and Munich are regarded throughout the world as architectural marvels. Stadiums such as Old Trafford in Manchester and Anfield in Liverpool have an aura that attracts fans even when there's no event scheduled.
The type of stadium the Whitecaps are proposing is closer to the compact, European style of soccer stadium rather than the “big-box” monolith opponents would have you believe. In fact, the concept hearkens back to a bygone era when stadiums were designed to fit to the parcel of land the owner had purchased. It was creative solutions such as this that resulted in the asymmetrical genius behind stadiums such as Boston's Fenway Park.
If the artist's conceptual design holds true, Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will be instantly recognized as the palace of soccer for North Americans. As a gathering place for citizens, it will connect thousands of Vancouverites to a piece of the Waterfront none of us have ever had access to.
As mentioned in the Stadium Consultant's Technical Report: “The past is a guidepost...Not a hitching post.” Local history has proved that today's creative design is always tomorrow's heritage. In the 1980s, many believed that a Trade & Convention centre could never fit in on the downtown waterfront. Could anyone imagine the Vancouver skyline without the distinctive sails of Canada Place now? Arthur Erickson buildings, which were ridiculed and controversial in their time, are now targeted for heritage protection. Years from now, after the Whitecaps stadium is built, this debate will be seen as one of the silliest we've ever engaged in as a city.
The small number of opponents of the stadium have managed to grab their share of the headlines over the last two weeks. We'd like to take a moment to respond to some of the questions that have risen regarding the new stadium.
Myth: Area residents and businesses are united against the stadium.
Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. The recent consultant's report showed that 52% of area residents were either strongly in favour, or in favour of the downtown stadium but had concerns. Only 40% of Gastown / Downtown Eastside residents were opposed. In fact, a growing number of Gastown residents and merchants are rising up to challenge this false notion through the Stadium Now! group.
Myth: There are no economic benefits to having a stadium in Gastown.
Fact: Try finding a table in a downtown restaurant when the Canucks or the Lions are playing! When the Canucks failed to make the playoffs this year, a local business group pegged the loss at $5 million per missed playoff game. During the NHL lockout in 2005, several merchants close to GM Place nearly went bankrupt. Anyone who says that “People just arrive, buy the $75 hamburger at the stadium and goes home,” has a poor sense of business reality.
Myth: The Stadium will build a “Berlin Wall” between Gastown & the Waterfront.
Fact: The Stadium will actually link Gastown to the waterfront for the first time in a century.
Myth: The Whitecaps Stadium will cause the destruction of Gastown's heritage and further displace residents of the Downtown Eastside.
Fact: Not one heritage building will be destroyed because of the stadium. Not one person will lose their home. Not one Single Room Occupancy space will be lost.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
"But they're going to have to get together with other property owners and get a larger footprint."
In previous statements, the coalition had always claimed that a stadium on any part of the railway lands would destroy Gastown's heritage. This was in spite of the fact that not one of Gastown's heritage buildings would be destroyed in the construction process, and that there are several examples of stadiums successfully co-existing with heritage sites throughout the world.
The Whitecaps have yet to complete the design of the stadium, and have pledged to take the concerns of the City Hall consultant's report into account. A formal design won't be submitted unless City Council allows the proposal to go to the re-zoning stage on June 15.
The Province article, which can be found on page A15, focusses on the new Stadium Now group which has risen in Gastown. Stadium Now was formed last week by a group of Gastown residents & merchants who believe the new stadium will bring immense benefits to the area. They have already been successful in dispelling the myth that Gastown residents are universally opposed to the project.
"I thought it would be good to get the word out that there are people in the neighbourhood (who) are not being represented by the other coalitions and their own business society.", said Stadium Now founder John Kostiuk. The City Hall consultant report revealed that 38% of area residents are in favour of the stadium, while 15% support the concept of a downtown stadium but have concerns. 40% of area residents who participated in the City Hall open houses were opposed.
To support Gastown residents and merchants in their quest for the stadium, please visit www.stadiumnow.org
Subscribers to the The Vancouver Province can read the article at http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/index.html
Friday, May 19, 2006
The Province has suspended the poll on the site with the message "Due to technical difficulties, the poll is temporarily suspended". A high level source at the newspaper revealed that no poll results would be published in the Sunday edition.
"I wish we could start talking about the more important issues regarding the stadium," said Friends of Soccer organizer Bill Currie. "To try and contrive artificial opposition to the project is just a silly waste of people's time and effort. As we know from a real scientific poll, from real public consultation, and from real letters, e-mails and phone calls to City Council, the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium enjoys real support from real citizens."
Thursday, May 18, 2006
"When we met with Gastown residents and merchants earlier this week, we offered our complete support for their efforts to truly represent the views of local residents. A large number of Gastown merchants and residents want to see all of the benefits the Whitecaps Stadium will bring to their neighbourhood, and we'll be working together to see that it happens.", said Friends Of Soccer organizer Bill Currie.
"Our first goal is to encourage the people of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to support the merchants who are taking this courageous stand in favour of Gastown. If there was ever a time to have a meal in Gastown, browse the shops, or take in the great show at Storyeum, that time is now! Just look for the Stadium Now poster in the Window."
Friends of Soccer will continue its campaign in favour of the stadium with an appearance Thursday at a Heritage Vancouver forum. The panel discussion "Gastown up against the wall: The Whitecaps Stadium Proposal" takes place on Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 PM at the Vancouver Museum (1100 Chestnut St. in Kitsilano). The Panel features Whitecaps President John Rocha.
Monday, May 15, 2006
The report echoes the previous independent study done by the Mustel Group on behalf of the Whitecaps. Their survey indicated that 71% of Vancouverites supported the downtown stadium proposal.
Most striking was was how the consultant's study dispelled the myth that the majority of residents in the immediate area were strongly opposed to the stadium. The Open Houses revealed that 38% of Gastown / Downtown Eastside residents support the proposed location, while 15% like the idea of a downtown stadium, but have concerns about the location. Only 40% of local residents were strongly opposed.
A companion technical report on the project concluded that there are concerns about the conceptual design, but agreed that the issues could be addressed if the Whitecaps re-visited the concept. This could be addressed through the re-zoning process."
"This tells us what the people of Vancouver have been telling us for months," said Friends of Soccer organizer Bill Currie. "They want the Whitecaps stadium built. They want it built downtown, and they want it built now."
Vancouver City Council will decide whether to advance the the project to the re-zoning process on June 15.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
That team is most likely to be Vancouver.
With strong ownership, a new downtown stadium in the works, and a stated goal to play at the top level of North American professional soccer, the Vancouver Whitecaps appear to be next in line for MLS expansion. Mr. Pipe pressed that point today on MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
"Don, keep a second spot open in 2010. We know you're working towards having 16 clubs. I'm going to keep your feet close to the fire on that as we move forward. We have other Canadian cities who are really looking at Major League Soccer in a very serious way."
The only other contender is Montreal, who recently delayed plans to build a Soccer Specific Stadium.
The new National Soccer Stadium in Toronto is being built primarily using municipal, provincial and federal funds with a minority investment made by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. When Toronto City Council approved funding for the stadium in October, 2005, Mayor David Miller said "It's a great deal for Toronto. The city gets a $60 million community asset for only $9.8 million."
The Vancouver Whitecaps proposed stadium is privately-financed on land they purchased from Fairmont - a private company. They have said previously that they are financially committed to making the stadium happen. The new Vancouver stadium would be an invaluable asset to Canadian soccer, as Vancouver has the only climate in the country that allows for year-round soccer.
Major League Soccer has designed special rules which force Toronto FC to field a predominantly Canadian team. Mr. Pipe believes that the arrival of MLS in Toronto will have an immediate impact on the fortunes of Canadian Soccer.
"Today is a day of celebration. The arrival of MLS in Toronto is going to change the game overnight. Here in this city we will see the finest players in North America. The immediate impact is apparent. It's going to allow our national team players to finally play in Canada at a complete professional level. We expect to see a lot of our players returning home from Europe to play for Toronto FC. We also expect to see immediate improvement. With two seasons under our belt, we fully expect our national team to achieve it's goal of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.""
Besides the new MLS team, Toronto's National Soccer Stadium will also play host to the second biggest event in Men's soccer: The Fifa Under-20 World Cup. While Vancouver's Swangard Stadium will be a venue for the preliminary matches of the tournament, it will be Toronto's shrine that hosts the final.
"July 22, 2007 - When the Fifa Under-20 World Cup Final is held in the new National Soccer Stadium, there will be over 100 million people worldwide watching soccer from Toronto. Who ever would have thought it?"
To help make the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium a reality, visit us at www.friendsofsoccer.org .
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Now, we need volunteers to help execute it.
We have exciting plans to hit the streets to encourage the soccer community and citizens of Vancouver to contact City Council. There are many facets to this strategy, and we'll be holding a meeting for volunteers this week to discuss them. In short, this is where the campaign leaves the internet and turns into real flesh and blood support!
If you're interested in getting involved to help make the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium a reality, please contact me as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thursday, May 04, 2006
A corporately-funded Stadium opposition group suffered a serious setback today on the Bill Good Show on CKNW 980. The newly-formed Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition was bombarded by calls in favour of the Whitecaps new stadium.
Most stunning were the phone calls from Gastown residents and business owners that claimed the coalition doesn't speak for residents of the area. One caller revealed that the coalition's chief spokesman, Jon Stovell, heads acquisitions and development for a real estate company that owns several of the buildings behind the stadium site. He also revealed that this “grassroots” coalition has hired an exclusive communications firm, Reputations Corporation, to handle its public relations.
In the past, Reputations Communications worked on the election campaign for Mayor Sam Sullivan, and handled his media relations at the recent Winter Olympics & Paralympics.
It would seem that the two biggest lobby groups opposing the stadium, Gastown Residents Association & the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition, aren't very grassroots or representative at all. In fact, according to internet domain registration information, it would appear they were created at the same time, by the same people.
With support among the public overwhelmingly in favour of the stadium, it's more important than ever to let your voice be heard. And it will be the powerful, positive message of soccer fans and citizens of Vancouver that will bring the stadium home! Write, call, and e-mail City Council and the Mayor and let them know where the real power is!
Here is a link to to an MP3 of The Bill Good Show:
Yours in Soccer,
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
You'll be hearing about some of the ways we'll be doing this in the next few days. To get an idea of one of the things we have planned, check out the website at www.friendsofsoccer.org .
You'll also be hearing from our opponents as well. Don't worry about the handful of headlines they're grabbing. They're a small, negative group who have a long history of opposition. If we all band together as both a soccer community and a group of positive, concerned citizens, we'll overwhelm city council with our numbers alone. The key to success here is to focus on the positives of the stadium and ignore our opponents' negativity.
I hope we can count on your support. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com .