Thursday, May 11, 2006

CSA to MLS: Make room for 2nd Canadian team in 2010

As Toronto FC unveiled it's new Major League Soccer logo today, Canadian Soccer Association C.O.O. Kevin Pipe had a clear message for the league: make room for a 2nd Canadian team in 2010.

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 .

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