Tuesday, November 13, 2007


As if there was any doubt before, November's "Beckham Game" at B.C. Place Stadium made it crystal clear that Vancouver will always come out to support top-level soccer. And many of the 48,000 on hand took the time to support the new waterfront stadium. The "Build the Stadium Now" banner now has well over 20,000 signatures on it.

But that's no surprise either. Since the day the stadium was announced, the overwhelming majority of Vancouver citizens have been in favour of it. Two scientific Mustel Polls have shown over 70% of Vancouverites support the stadium. The many rounds of official public consultation City Hall held backs them up. In the last 2 years, the City has held 7 open houses and 4 days of public hearings. They've fielded thousands of letters, e-mails and postcards...once again well over 70% in support of the stadium.

The result of all of this pressure has been two unanimous, but tentative votes of support by the City...and of course more studies and delays. But today was the first sign that at least someone on City Council is starting to realize the urgency behind this. This is from the Vancouver Sun website:

"City councillor Suzanne Anton said she will urge council to act quickly on final approval. "Negotiations with the Port Authority are primarily centred on where the stadium will be located," said Anton. "It's not resolved yet, but the process needs to be speeded up. We have a wonderful opportunity here for a first-class facility that will serve many, many purposes, including soccer. I will urge council to move forward quickly on this project."

So, finally, a real sign of encouragement from one of our elected officials. But it's still not enough. This is the time for the Mayor and City Councillors to stop hiding on this issue and publicly do the work to make the stadium a go. Council needs to actively work with and encourage the Vancouver Port Authority and the Federal Government to expedite a deal with the Whitecaps. And they need to move the stadium to the rezoning stage as soon as possible.

It's time for for Council to stop talking about WHETHER there'll be a stadium on the Waterfront, and start talking about WHAT kind of stadium will be on the Waterfront.

Tomorrow, I'll be writing City Council once again to tell them exactly what I've written here. I hope you'll do the same.

I'll also be writing Lawrence Cannon, the Federal Minister of Transportation and M.P. for Pontiac in Quebec. I'll be asking for his support in helping the Vancouver Port Authority strike a deal with the Whitecaps. I encourage soccer supporters from across Canada to do the same as well.

The past few years for soccer in Vancouver have been both fantastic and frustrating, and both for the same reason. We've had a glimpse of what this game can be, and those among us who love the game know deep in our hearts what it will be when we finally get it built. Please help us make it happen.

Yours in Sport,

Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

MLS Commissioner Makes It Clear: No Stadium - No Major League Soccer

As the Seattle Sounders announced they'll be joining Major League Soccer in 2009, MLS commissioner Don Garber had a very clear message for soccer fans in Vancouver: No Stadium. No MLS.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Garber is quoted as saying "...we are unable to make any commitments to Vancouver....We would give priority to the cities that have proper stadiums and the right business plans. Vancouver can only get into that mix with a proper stadium."

Don Garber had much to say about Major League Soccer expansion and the stadium situation in Vancouver. You can read the article here:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Friends of Soccer has a New Poster


Most of you who've been following us are probably familiar with our "Build the Stadium Now!" banner. Our mighty flag has well over 10,000 signatures on it, and I think it might be completely black with names after Wednesday's game...(by the way, visit our booth at BC Place during the game...we've taken a table behind section 19).

While I can't afford to make another banner, I'm happy to say that I've also made some posters for Wednesday. We'll have a couple of hundred at the table, so pick one up if you like. We're also going to try to get these into every stadium-friendly establishment in Metro Vancouver.

Bill Currie

A City of Soccer Goes Mad for Beckham's Galaxy

Vancouver has always been a world-class city in the soccer world. Vancouver has been a home to greats such as the legendary Ferenc Puskas, Bobby Robson, and Peter Beardsley. We've had visits from the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, and Johan Cruyff. But it's been over 30 years since the Great Pele's visit that we've seen a classy global superstar like David Beckham.

There are sporting purists who would debate Beckham's place among the greats in the greatest game of all. To be honest, it's a good argument. But in sports there are athletes, like Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky, who transcend their game beyond their remarkable accomplishments. I can say beyond my doubt, Becks is one of these.

Over the years, I've seen David Beckham perform remarkable feats on the pitch (...sometimes particularly difficult for me, as a Manchester City fan). But I think it's worth looking beyond that. I think if you look through the Hollywood-style glamour, you'll see an footballer who plays with the same passion that you and I try to do. On my less skeptical days, I think he would do what he does just for the sheer love of the game.

At today's open practice, David Beckham signed every autograph...hundreds of them to say the least...most of them kids. He took on what most sports superstars would think was an unreasonable burden.

That alone was a breath of fresh air in the world of North American sport.

There's much in the press today about Beck's visit and the stadium...read on for more:

Vancouver Sun:

Soccer star David Beckham's press conference today at the Pan Pacific Hotel was packed. And BC Place Stadium may be the same on Wednesday when Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy play the Vancouver Whitecaps in an exhibition game that could have same impact, historically, on soccer here as Pele's famous visit with the New York Cosmos 30 years ago.

That game helped catapult Vancouver among the top markets in the North American Soccer League, which folded in 1984 even as professional soccer here continued. Beckham's visit, his ability to sell 50,000 tickets to an exhibition game, could add urgency to the Whitecaps' stadium project and, more importantly, raise this city's candidacy for a Major League Soccer franchise.

The Province:

"Yes, this is about Beckham but it's also a statement of how much this city needs and will support a world-class downtown outdoor facility...The plan was to have the stadium ready for the FIFA U-20 tournament this year, a golden opportunity to showcase this city to a worldwide audience.The opportunity was wasted and instead when the world tuned in it saw Swangard Stadium. The Canadian Soccer Association was also hoping to use the stadium as a strong selling point for this country to host the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. Last week Canada's bid lost out to Germany. No stadium, no tournament. "It was a factor," admits Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "No question."

The red tape could take another 18 months but the Vancouver Whitecaps are optimistic both can be done much sooner. It means the waterfront stadium could be finished as early as 2010. There is no good reason for it not to be. A recent Mustel survey shows 71 per cent of Vancouverites support it. It would also open the door for Major League Soccer to move to this city. If Toronto FC can average more than 20,000 fans per game at the new BMO Field, what can the Whitecaps do with the right facility in the right league?

"This is a soccer town," insists Lenarduzzi. In a perfect world that wouldn't need to be said.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

2011 Women's WC Fallout Part One: Canada needs more stadiums

The decision by FIFA to hand the 2011 Women's World Cup to Germany should not have caused great surprise among soccer fans on both sides of the Atlantic. The German football association mounted an excellent bid that featured 12 state-of-the-art modern stadiums, the world's best womens team, and a rich football culture. The success of the 2011 Women's WC is virtually assured, and Germany has every reason to celebrate their well-deserved win.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had some kind words for Canada in our loss. He said that Canada had showed "what football can be in a country where so far football was not the sport number one. We appreciate what you've done and we have good hopes for you and what you can do in the future."

But it's obvious that one of the things we have to work on if there's to be a bright future for soccer in Canada is stadium infrastructure. John Rocha was the Chairman of Canada's 2011 bid, and the first thing he spoke of after the loss was the lack of proper stadiums in two of Canada's soccer hotbeds, Vancouver and Victoria:

"I don't think Burnaby and Victoria were what FIFA was looking for as venues for 2011," Rocha told the Vancouver Sun. "We need bigger stadiums in those areas, like the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, which will have a seating capacity of 15,000."

That qualifies for the understatement of the year. Germany could offer up twelve World Cup calibre stadiums. While we all coped the best we could with scaffolding and portapotties at Swangard and Royal Athletic Park during the FIFA U-20, we're still at the mercy of FIFA when it comes to allowing the continued use of temporary facilities. We need permanent infrastructure. Our guests from around the world deserve better, and soccer fans throughout B.C. deserve better.

Stadium Now's John Kostiuk wrote an excellent piece on his website about Vancouver's lack of infrastructure, and the never-ending struggle to build the Whitecaps Stadium. He sums it up nicely here.

"The Vancouver Whitecaps FC have been trying to build a new soccer specific stadium in Vancouver officially since October of 2005, and unofficially well before then at the behest of the then mayor of Vancouver Larry Campbell. Suffice it to say that the City of Vancouver has laid down a number of roadblocks that were not there for BC Place and GM Place. Dealing with multiple layers of bureaucracy and inertia at various levels of government has been a long slog for the team and without an owner like Greg Kerfoot, most people would have given up a long time ago...Toronto has their new soccer stadium, Montreal is almost done with theirs, all we need now is for people in Vancouver to continue to push for our own improved infrastructure. What seems like pushing a rock up a never ending hill is unfortunately the level of effort needed to counteract the gravitational forces of lack of vision, bureaucracy, and misinformation."

Kostiuk also touched on the Canadian Soccer Association's mystifying refusal to host the Women's CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in Canada. This is despite the obvious advantages for our national team, as well as offers from the Whitecaps and a reported group in Quebec to cover the costs. Refusing to host an international event of this calibre does absolutely nothing to advance our game, and is completely unjustifiable. In Part Two, we'll talk about how soccer supporters can help save this opportunity, and how we can advance our game beyond petty politics.

Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

Monday, October 29, 2007

Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium Central to Canada's 2011 Women's World Cup Bid

Canada will put it's best foot forward on Tuesday as FIFA will decide which country will earn the right to host the 2011 Women's World Cup. The Canadian delegation, led by former Whitecaps President John Rocha, will make it's presentation to FIFA at 11:30 am Zurich time (3:30 AM Pacific), and the decision will be announced at 3:00 PM Zurich time (7:00 AM Pacific). Both the presentation and decision can be seen live at FIFA.COM .

On the surface, it might seem like Canada is in for a tough battle against its only rival, Germany. And, no doubt, it's true. The German Women are still celebrating their recent World Cup triumph in China, and their bid features the unrivalled stadium infrastructure that is the legacy of their incredibly successful 2006 Mens World Cup Finals. Because they've invested in modern soccer stadiums, Germany is in a position to put forward strong bids for any major soccer competition in the world.

But Canada will have much to offer in Zurich tomorrow as well. And FIFA has taken notice.

Our country showed at this past summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup that there's been a long, pent up demand for world class soccer. Canadians set an all-time attendance record for the tournament. It's a demand that's been artificially held back over the years by a lack of professional clubs beyond Vancouver, Toronto & Montreal, as well as modern facilities for them to play in. We're now seeing what new stadiums in Toronto and Montreal can do for the professional game. In Vancouver, we could have the best stadium of them all.

Our women's national program is also among the best developed in the world, and there's plenty of opportunity for women of all ages to play the game at every level. The Whitecaps have also built one of the top women's clubs in North America, winning the W-League title twice in the past four seasons, and sending several of their players to the national team. FIFA also remembers our country's outstanding response to the inaugural Womens U-19 World Cup in 2002. The strength of women's soccer in Canada could help tip the balance in our favour tomorrow in Zurich.

The Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will play a central role in Canada's presentation tomorrow, with suggestions that Vancouver could play host to the major games of the tournament such as the opening game, the semi-final, or even the final itself. Of course, it would have helped strengthen the bid if Vancouver City Council had made a stronger commitment to allowing the stadium to move forward.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, Vancouver still needs the stadium. But wouldn't it be great if we could open it by doing what Vancouver does best; by inviting the world?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stadium Drawings Show Seawall Extended, Crab Park Untouched & Unaffected

The Vancouver Whitecaps have released renderings of the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium on a revised site located next to the seabus. While there still won't be a design for the stadium until the project goes to rezoning, there's a couple of potentially exciting things the drawings reveal.

First, the drawings have confirmed that the Whitecaps intend to use the stadium to extend the city's seawall. This alone should be enough of a reason for every city councillor to get actively behind the stadium. An extended seawall would provide the first public access to this part of the downtown waterfront in almost a century. It could also allow the seawall to link up with the new Carrall Street Greenway, which would provide cyclists and pedestrians a continuous loop around downtown, False Creek, Stanley Park and Coal Harbour. Those of us who live or work downtown have been wanting this for a very long time, and it's great to see the Whitecaps offerring to deliver yet another public amenity with this project.

Second, the drawings show conclusively that Crab Park will be completely untouched and unaffected by the stadium. In fact, the drawings show the stadium will be located more than 100 metres away from the park; enough room to place another soccer field there if you wanted to. This should come as a great relief to the few stadium opponents left that feared for the future of Crab Park. Many of them were worried that the stadium would be right up against the edge of the park, or even worse, replace the park itself. Of course, neither of these was ever going to happen. Once again, the Whitecaps have shown that they're willing to address the stadium opponents' issues, even if the opponents are still unwilling to meet with them.

Please show your support for the Whitecaps Stadium by writing City Council today! You can e-mail them now at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca .

(Just an editor's note:

Someone has correctly pointed out to me that these drawings are not "new" and have been on public record with the City of Vancouver since July, 2007. For the record, what I meant is that these are renderings that have appeared recently on the Whitecaps website.)

Bill Currie

Whitecaps release revised stadium site pictures

The Vancouver Whitecaps have released renderings of the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium on a revised site located next to the seabus. You can see the full size renderings on the Whitecaps Official Site.

(Just an editor's note:

Someone has correctly pointed out to me that these drawings are not "new" and have been on public record with the City of Vancouver since July, 2007. For the record, what I meant is that these are renderings that have appeared recently on the Whitecaps website.)

Bill Currie

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stadium Now: Beckham, soccer, and a stadium

John Kostiuk of Stadium Now took some time yesterday to share his thoughts on the upcoming L.A. Galaxy game and how it demonstrates the obvious need for the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. David Beckham and the Galaxy will face the Whitecaps at B.C. Place on Wednesday, Nov.7 at 7PM. Ticket information can be found here.

From Stadium Now:

It was announced today that David Beckham and the LA Galaxy will be here November 7 to play the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place.

So what does this post have to do with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC efforts to build a soccer specific stadium in downtown Vancouver? Burnaby is currently home to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they play their games out of Swangard Stadium; however, its capacity is limited to 5,288 fans and the team does not own the stadium - with all the limitations that entails.

The more than 40,000 tickets sold so far for an exhibition game are one example of the potential for soccer in the city of Vancouver. While Burnaby has been a good host for the Whitecaps it is time to bring the team home.

Whether it is easy access to numerous modes of public transit, the ability for residents and workers downtown to walk to the stadium, and a host of other benefits - the viable option is to build the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium downtown, not in the suburbs.

Where a parking lot now stands lies the opportunity to open up the waterfront to residents and visitors alike - and that’s a step forward.

It is time to match the facility with the demand and build a world class stadium. If we had that already the Beckham game could have been a regular season game instead of a one off.

John Kostiuk

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stadium Delays Cost Vancouver Taxpayers $5 million

City to Close David Lam Park & use Downtown Parking Lot for Olympic Plazas


Delays in approving the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will cost municipal taxpayers $5 million as city staff and 2010 organizers were forced to develop temporary plazas for the "Olympic Live" public sites during the Winter Games. The free public plazas, which will feature giant television screens, sponsor tents and live concerts, will be located on a parking lot on Beatty St. and in Yaletown's David Lam Park. The $23 million facilities will have a capacity of 10,000 and 13,000 respectively, and both will be dismantled following the 2010 games.

VANOC had earlier expressed an interest in holding the public cultural components of the Winter Games in the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, and reinforced that view to City Council as late as May, 2006. A completed Whitecaps Stadium could have provided greater capacity, substantial reductions in infrastructure and security costs, and would have provided a permanent legacy for the games. Friends of Soccer pro-stadium activist Bill Currie blasted City Council for the delays at Thursday's Planning and Environment meeting.

"If there was ever a red flag that we need permanent gathering places downtown, this is it. A fantastic gathering place was offered to both the City and VANOC as early as 2004 in the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium," he told councillors . "It was a gift to the city, in a beautiful spot where Vancouver began. Despite overwhelming support, 4 rounds of public consultation, and 2 unanimous votes from this Council, it hasn't proceeded far enough or fast enough. We're paying the price for this now."

Although Currie made it clear he fully supports the free public Olympic Sites, he expressed concern for residents and local soccer over the closing of David Lam Park.

"It's also sad for our citizens and local residents that the city will have to cut off the seawall and decommission a public park and popular sports field for what will likely be several months. And while I support this project, I can honestly say that the soccer community will not like that one bit."

"It appears the time for 2010 is too late. So, along with the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the dozens of sporting events, cultural events and festivals that could have been held by now, we'll chalk this up as another lost opportunity. But, what makes this lost opportunity different is that it's going to cost the taxpayers of Vancouver $5 million dollars. I believe this could have been avoided."

Councillors present provided no questions nor rebuttal.

Friends of Soccer is a grassroots movement that supports soccer projects as well as the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. Bill Currie and the Friends of Soccer (www.friendsofsoccer.org) urge all citizens of Vancouver to continue to write, phone and visit City Hall to make their voices heard.

Friends of Soccer Remarks To City Council

Planning & Environment Meeting - September 20, 2007

My name is Bill Currie, and besides being the founder of the Friends of Soccer movement, I'm also a West End resident. I'm here to say that I support the 2010 Winter Games Live Site Plan and ask that you approve it.

In fact, if anything, let's find a way to create more of these, because we need more opportunities to gather as a city. However, it's unfortunate that in this case, the best we can offer the world is a stage with fences, scaffolding, tents and portapotties in a parking lot.

But that's not your staff's or VANOC's fault.

It's also sad for our citizens and local residents that the city will have to cut off the seawall and decommission a public park and popular sports field for what will likely be several months. And while I support the project, I can honestly say that the soccer community will not like that one bit.

But that's not your staff's or VANOC's fault either.

Also, according to the designs in the report, the venues appear very small. The total capacity of both venues combined is less than the average attendance at a BC Lions game, and these are fans that pay to get in. This is one of the largest sporting events in the world. It's likely that these venues won't be able to accommodate the tens of thousands more who'll want to attend these concerts and events.

But once again, that's not your staff's fault or VANOC's fault. In fact, they should be commended for making the most of these sites. It's very clear that their options in the downtown core are limited.

If there was ever a red flag that we need permanent outdoor gathering places downtown, this is it. A fantastic gathering place was offered to both the City and VANOC as early as 2004 in the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. It was a gift to the city, in a beautiful spot where Vancouver began. And VANOC was on record as being interested in it for a purpose just like this. Despite overwhelming support, 4 rounds of public consultation, and 2 unanimous votes from this Council, it hasn't proceeded far enough or fast enough. And because of that we're paying the price for this now.

It appears the time for 2010 is too late. So, along with the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the dozens of sporting events and festivals that would have been held by now, we'll chalk this up as another lost opportunity. But, what makes this lost opportunity different is that it's going to cost the taxpayers of Vancouver $5 million dollars. I believe this could have been avoided.

So, I ask that you approve this plan. But I also ask that you don't let this happen again. The stadium is about to come back in front of you soon, and it needs your help. I appreciate that every councilor here has voted in favour of the project in the past…but a passive vote is not enough. I urge you…get actively involved with the Whitecaps and City Staff on the Waterfront Stadium project. We already know that when elected officials in Toronto and Montreal became involved in their stadium projects, they were able to quickly turn them into reality. Any one of you can be a champion in this. And if you can step up, become more involved and help find a way through the maze for this project, you'll have the support of a very grateful city.

Thank you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Vancouver bureaucracy is quickly becoming a laughing stock." - Sportsnet

While the battle for the stadium continues, I think it's worth noting that it's not only Vancouver that's involved. In fact, the whole country is watching. People across Canada understand how important this stadium is for soccer in this country. And it turns out they are as perplexed and frustrated with the delays as we are.

Gerry Dobson is the well-known host of English Premier League soccer on Roger's Sportsnet. Below is an excerpt from Gerry Dobson's latest weekly column.

“Vancouver and Montreal will not make the next MLS expansion. The league will go to 16 teams in 2009, but they'll both be American. The head office loves a balanced league which means one in the west (Seattle) and one in the east (Philadelphia). Montreal and Vancouver will both get their shot two years later. That's assuming Vancouver get their stadium built. City Hall had better get moving. The Vancouver bureaucracy is quickly becoming a laughing stock. Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot is sitting there with the land, the money, and the willpower to do good things for the sport in Vancouver and the politicians are sitting there with their thumbs you know where. No stadium, no MLS franchise. Simple as that. Couldn't they play at BC Place? No, only as a stop gap measure IF a deal for a new facility is ironclad and a shovel ready to start digging. Meanwhile in Montreal, their new stadium is already being built. There is a chance Montreal could actually get in first. If they want it. Two years ago you couldn't have dreamed that as a possibility. On the other hand, two years ago you couldn't have dreamed what's happening in Toronto either.”

You can read the entire column here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Community Stadium for All

Much of what's been written about the Whitecaps Stadium over the last two years has focused on the benefits the stadium will bring for Canadian soccer. Of course, our city's role in international, professional, women's and amateur soccer stands to gain immensely once it's built. But, what often gets lost in all the excitement is that the Whitecaps are trying to give Vancouver a much-needed outdoor community stadium. It was a need established by Mayor Larry Campbell in 2004 when he asked the Whitecaps if they were interested in building it.

A community stadium is one of a city's most basic institutions. And, in the fine tradition of other private sector gifts to Vancouver such as the Lions Gate Bridge and the Carnegie Centre, the Whitecaps are taking the initiative to build this gift to the city. Beyond soccer, this stadium will be used by thousands of citizens in many different ways.

If we look at it purely from a sporting perspective, Vancouver can finally start hosting many of the world class & amateur events that currently go to other major cities. For a start, we already know that the stadium will serve Canada's rugby community, potentially as our national stadium. The tennis community is eager to bring world-class tournaments to Vancouver, such as the Davis Cup. The Whitecaps have also said that the stadium will be made available for amateur sporting events as well. This will be the type of sporting shrine that will inspire and reward athletes for their thousands of hours of hard work and sacrifice for their craft.

But the delays over the last two years have already taken a toll. Vancouver has already missed out on it's share of the $166 million windfall from the FIFA U-20 World Cup. In 2009, the World Police & Fire Games, one the largest amateur events on the planet, will be forced out to the suburbs and beyond, once again denying Vancouver the many tourism and economic spinoffs the Whitecaps Stadium could provide. Every day we go without the stadium, our athletes, our citizens, our small local businesses miss out on opportunities such as these.

Cultural events will also play a large role in the stadium. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra already wants to make the Whitecaps Stadium it's summer home. The Waterfront Stadium will also be an exciting, dynamic venue for downtown open-air concerts. As we know, VANOC was interested in utilizing the stadium for the cultural components of 2010, but delays by the city ensured that the stadium would probably not be built in time for the winter games. As a result, it's likely that fewer people will have the chance to enjoy cultural events during the Olympics. Once again, another huge loss for the citizens of Vancouver.

But most importantly, the Whitecaps plan to open the stadium as a permanent home to Vancouver's many multicultural festivals and events. They've already announced that they will donate the use of the Stadium to the City of Vancouver every year to celebrate the city's birthday. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless. Many of our downtown festivals that currently close down streets and bring massive policing costs, could be brought down to the waterfront, where all Vancouverites can celebrate in the footprint of our mountains. The stadium will make these events easier and less expensive for festival organizers to put together.

Vancouver is also missing out on the large scale public benefits outside of the stadium. When the stadium is built, the City will have the ability to fulfill its goal of building a better transit hub to handle the ever-growing number of suburban commuters to downtown. The stadium also brings an opportunity to finally extend the seawall from Coal Harbour to the Carrall Street Greenway, giving the first public access to a piece of Port Corporation land that's been off-limits to citizens for decades. Pedestrians and cyclists would finally have a continuous loop to travel from Stanley Park to False Creek to English Bay. Without the stadium, this part of the waterfront could be closed off for many generations to come.

We, as a city, have to stop thinking small. For a cosmopolitan city like ours to thrive, our downtown core has to be open, inclusive and welcoming to all people. We also have to start building institutions that appeal to people of all cultures and backgrounds. The Whitecaps' spectacular Waterfront Stadium, combined with the global appeal of the beautiful game, promises to be one of the first of these for Vancouver. Please take a moment to tell City Hall to get off the sidelines and make it happen. You can e-mail them now at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Commissioner of Major League Soccer, Don Garber, officially confirmed today that Vancouver is one of the cities being considered for expansion into Major League Soccer. In an exclusive interview with the league's official website MLSNET.COM, Garber revealed that the league was looking at expansion and Vancouver was a serious candidate.


"When will MLS be expanding to Pacific Northwest/Florida/New York/Philadelphia/Canada?"

Don Garber
"If I answer that here, we certainly won't have much to talk about during the State of the League address tomorrow. I'm well aware that much of the internet traffic and fan buzz recently concerns expansion and all of you know I, and MLS president Mark Abbot, spend a great deal of our time traveling from city to city meeting with potential owners, officials and sports authorities and all others to manage the expansion of the league. I'm very confident that we will be able to announce a 16-team league by the end of the year. It's still a moving target as to what cities will flow in when."

"Can you give us the status on some other markets?"

Don Garber
"There's more interest in MLS expansion than at any other time in the history of the sport in the country. Without prioritizing any one market, here is a rundown of the cities: Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Antonio, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Rochester, New York City, Atlanta, Miami and Las Vegas."

"Has the success of Toronto FC given the MLS a blueprint for success in new markets and the future? And has its success blown your mind over how crazy and how popular it is?

Don Garber
"The answer is to all of that is yes, yes, yes. So the answer to that question is yes, yes, yes. My hat goes off to MLSE who have proven to be terrific operators, who understand the sports business and now the soccer business like few others. From the time we began discussing the opportunity with MLSE to the opening home game, the success they have at home games each week, I'm impressed and thrilled at what we have going on up in Toronto. In many ways it is a blueprint yet every market has its own idiosyncracies, opportunities and challenges. One of the things that has really impressed us, and something we hope to replicate in other markets, is the passionnate involvement of teams' supporters groups, something we hope to replicate in other markets."

Vancouver was the only Canadian city mentioned by the MLS Commissioner on Wednesday.
Major League Soccer expansion in the past has traditionally relied on these factors before teams were able to particpate in North America's top league:

1. An owner with reliable resources to support the franchise. On this front, the Whitecaps are secured.

2. A city with significant soccer interest among the population. On this point, Vancouver has rich soccer culture and the oldest continuous running professional soccer club in Canada.

3. A Soccer Specific Stadium...or concrete, feasible plans to build one.

The third point is entirely in the realm of our City Council. In the coming days, weeks and months, Friends of Soccer are going to do our best to consult with you, work with you and mobilize the entire country to put pressure on City Council to push the stadium forward in time for the 2011 Women's World Cup and a new MLS team.

The time for patience and restraint are over. The people of Vancouver have already said yes four times to the stadium. All that's left is for the Whitecaps & the Port of Vancouver to present a vision for the Waterfront lands and to present a design for the new showcase of Canadian Soccer.

Every stadium we build in this country is a major victory for Canadian Soccer. When Toronto faced their council debate on the first Soccer Specific Stadium in Canada, fans from Vancouver to Bathurst, N.B. voiced their support and encouraged you to contact the elected officials involved.

Now, it's your turn.

It's time for Canadian Soccer Supporters EVERYWHERE to to let Vancouver City Council know how important the stadium is for soccer in this country. Please write city council today at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

Please remember, this is just the start. I believe that together, we can set the framework for the creation of soccer specific stadiums and facilities across Canada. I'll write more on this in the coming days.

Please help us...we're reaching a critical time in development of this stadium and Canadian Soccer as a whole. In the coming months, it will be your voice that matters.

Until Kickoff,

Bill Currie

Friends of Soccer

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Soccer Explodes in Canada!

While we anxiously wait for progress on the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium in Vancouver, soccer is exploding like never before in Canada's two largest cities. If there's still anyone left who even questions the need for a new soccer specific stadium, they need not look any further than to our eastern cousins in Montreal and Toronto. Both cities are now at the forefront of the North American soccer revolution, and they're taking the sport's popularity to levels unheard of since the heights of the NASL.

In April, Montreal launched construction of a new 13,000 seat Soccer Stadium on the grounds of their Olympic complex. Expandable to 17,000, the new stadium will be finished by Spring, 2008 and will play host to the Whitecaps' Canadian rivals, the Montreal Impact. The Impact have long been one of the best supported teams in USL, often selling out their current 10,000 seat facility. At 13,000 seats, in a stadium designed with the fans in mind, Montreal will likely need to expand their stadium sooner than expected.

While Montreal's stadium success was virtually assured from the get go, no one could have ever predicted the exciting response by fans in Toronto to their new stadium and MLS team, Toronto FC. With over 14,000 season tickets , sold out games, and the best atmosphere of any team in the league, Toronto has surpassed even the most optimistic predictions.

So how much of a difference can a soccer stadium make?

Let's start with Toronto. For ten years, Toronto's pro soccer team was the Toronto Lynx...another USL rival of the Whitecaps. Throughout that time, the Lynx played in a small community stadium, similar to Swangard, on the outskirts of Central Toronto in a city similar to Burnaby. Throughout that time, they rarely drew more than 2500 fans and were never able to capture the imagination of the city whose name it bore. Over the years, the Lynx developed many fine Canadian players that are making careers for themselves throughout Europe and North America. But developing talent was not enough. With no hope of expanding their base, and no way to modernize their stadium, the Lynx could never become bigger or better than they were.

However, with public investment in a modern soccer stadium located on the edge of downtown Toronto, Toronto FC were able to tap into the enthusiasm of millions of soccer fans in this multicultural hub. The result was a mosaic of fans unlike any group of soccer supporters in the world. The naysayers who tried to deny Toronto their stadium on October 27, 2005 should be ashamed.

Meanwhile, Montreal's new stadium will finally put Canada's second largest city in a position to regularly host international matches, and it opens the door for the Impact to consider joining Major League Soccer. The Impact have proven that there's a pent-up demand for the game that's been held back too long, and it's about to take off there like never before.

With deep roots in the game, and a long history of outstanding fan support, Vancouver's success with a new downtown soccer stadium is virtually guaranteed. Last summer, thousands of you rose up and let City Council know so.

When it's finally built, the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will take its place as the crown jewel of Canada's soccer stadiums. However, Vancouver can learn a lot from the bold steps taken by Toronto and Montreal. Both their stadiums were proposed, passed by their city councils, and constructed in less time than it has taken to move the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium to this stage. Although the City of Vancouver can't speed up the current negotiating process between the Whitecaps & local stakeholders, the City should do its best to expedite the rezoning process and to make the stadium a reality as soon as possible.

A Quick Stadium Update

Here's a brief update on the Whitecaps Stadium, and some of the things Friends of Soccer are doing to support it:

1. At the moment, the stadium issue is in the hands of the Whitecaps and the landowners /stakeholders in the area. The Whitecaps need to finalize an agreement with all parties on the revised site before the stadium can be brought before City Council for rezoning. We're not privy to any information in these talks, and we have no role to play in them. We have been assured, however, that all parties are positive and working towards getting the stadium built on the waterfront.

2.The City has been very helpful on the stadium since the last council vote, and aren't the cause of any delays in the current process. They might appreciate a word of thanks and support if you have a moment.

3. We expect that the stadium issue will probably come before City Council sometime during the late summer or early autumn. As you already know, the thousands of letters, signatures & phone calls to councillors have given the stadium proposal two unanimous votes of support to date. We'll need your calls & letters again when the next vote comes.

4. The two main opponent groups in the last round, the Gastown Residents Association & the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition, no longer exist. In fact, their leader, Jon Stovell, expressed satisfaction during the last Council meeting with the moves the Whitecaps have made to accommodate the concerns of local residents. While there are still some opponents remaining, the vast majority of people who had reasonable concerns about the original stadium proposal are content.

5. The City Planning department has invited Friends of Soccer to send a representative to its working group on the stadium and the proposed Central Transportation Hub. There, we'll meet with other supporters and opponents, landowners, business owners and government agencies involved in the project to provide ideas, feedback and solutions to issues. There's no expectation that all of these groups will reach a consensus on the stadium or the hub. However, it's an important part of of the public process, and we'll be asking for your ideas when the sessions begin sometime this summer. Bruce Wilkins, a well respected labour lawyer and longtime Whitecaps season ticket holder, will be representing Friends of Soccer in the working group.

6. In March, the BC Soccer Association expressed their support for our efforts. When the time comes, they're willing to help us mobilize the BC Soccer community in support of the stadium.

7. The Whitecaps - LA Galaxy exhibition match on October 3 is very important in the stadium campaign. We believe that this event will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the need for a new stadium. Every soccer fan who wants a stadium should be out in full force for this match!

That's what we know at the moment. For now, it's a good time to relax a little, go to Swangard, and enjoy the Whitecaps as they look to repeat their W-League & USL Division I titles. Also, the FIFA U-20 World Cup is coming up, and we'll be planning a few events this summer to keep the the stadium in the front of people's minds.

Thanks again for your support on the stadium. Let's do everything we can to make it happen!

Yours in Sport,
Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Council Votes Unanimously to Move Revised Stadium Site Forward!

Once again, Vancouver City Council has voted unanimously to proceed with the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. After listening to 15 speakers, which included presentations from the Whitecaps, Friends of Soccer and Stadium Now!, Council made the decision to adapt the latest City Staff report and to begin a new round of public consultation. If all goes well, the city could send the stadium project to a formal rezoning process by June, and construction could be completed in time for the 2010 Olympics.

During the council session, the handful of stadium opponents mostly rehashed issues that were addressed in the previous hearings. However, City Council raised concerns about the effects the revised waterfront stadium site would have on the Seabus Terminal, as well as the need for the Whitecaps and the Port to reach agreement with federal government agencies. These are among the issues that will be addressed in the upcoming Open Houses and Public Hearings.

As the stadium moves a step closer, your support becomes even more important. Council mentioned more than once the broad public support the stadium project has received, and it's because the Citizens of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland have stepped up to the plate to let them know. To find out more on how you can support the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, visit www.friendsofsoccer.org

Friends of Soccer's Presentation to City Council

Here are the remarks made to Council on behalf of Friends of Soccer on February 1.

Good afternoon,

I'm Bill Currie and I'm here on behalf of the thousands of Citizens who support the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium and let you know through the Friends of Soccer movement.

I'd like to begin by thanking City Staff, Councill and the Whitecaps for working so hard to bring the stadium proposal to this stage. It goes to show what can happen when we focus on what's possible and not on what's negative or difficult.

I want to help alleviate the concerns mentioned by one of the previous speakers on the fairness of the process and the applicant providing the funds. As we all know the Whitecaps were required to pay for the previous round of public hearings run by the City. And the City Staff report that came of it shows that the Whitecaps truly listened and consulted with the community to find solutions. There were concerns about how the stadium would fit with Gastown...the Whitecaps listened and moved it farther away. There were concerns about the stadium being built over railroad tracks...the Whitecaps listened and now it's on the Waterfront. Council instructed the Whitecaps to reach a deal with The Port of Vancouver. They've been successful in working with the Port as well as their neighbours. Throughout the process, the Whitecaps have been open and willing to listen to anyone with concerns. And they've told us that will continue.

We're also gratified to see that the report states that there is no further need to search for alternate sites. This is already the 5th site considered by the Whitecaps, and we believe it is by far the best. Besides the iconic views, which has been mentioned several times, it's unprecedented access to every mode of public transit makes it one of the most environmentally friendly stadiums in the world.

In the last round of public consultation, the Citizens of Vancouver gave you a definitive mandate to move ahead with the waterfront stadium project without any further delays. And that still holds today. Every public consultation City Hall has done on the issue shows overwhelming support among citizens. You already know that there are scores of community groups and sports organizations that want to see this happen. Downtown and Chinatown BIA's support the project. Tourism Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Trade....the list goes on and on and on.

This process began because 4 years ago the mayor at the time identified the need for a mid-sized stadium to host soccer, rugby and community events. We needed it then...and we still need one now regardless of what happens to our other downtown venue. In the 4 years we've talked about this, Soccer Specific Stadiums have been planned, zoned, and constructed in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, Charleston, Rochester, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington and Toronto. They are in the planning stages in at least 3 other North American cities, including Montreal. So, every day we go without one is a lost opportunity for our sports, but more importantly our city.

Just on the soccer front, In the last three years alone Vancouver has missed out on North American tours by Manchester United, Celtic, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In 2005, we had to travel to Seattle to watch Canada's "home" games in the CONCACAF Gold Cup (North America's equivalent to the European Championships). This July, Swangard will only be able to host preliminary games of the U-20 World Cup. Not the Semi-Final or the Final. The Rugby and Tennis community can also tell you of the international events they would like to hold if they had a proper stadium. Any one of these events puts Vancouver on a global stage comparable to the Winter Olympics.

Fortunately, there are even bigger opportunities on the horizon. That's why we need to stay focussed on having the stadium built in time for 2010. Beyond the Olympics, a new stadium will open the door for the Whitecaps to join Major League Soccer if that's the road they want to choose. On an even larger scale, the new stadium will strengthen Canada's bid for the 2011 Women's World Cup and no place would be more appropriate to hold the final than Vancouver.

So let's keep moving forward. Let's continue to work together to find solutions and solve issues. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whitecaps make major strides on a New Stadium

From the Whitecaps:

Jan. 22, 2007

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today Vancouver city staff submitted a report to Council which recommends a process that could potentially resolve the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium’s five key requirements set out by City Council last July. In addition, the report outlines a procedure to integrate the stadium with the Waterfront Hub Study. The report will be presented at a City Council meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 1.

“Since the last City Council meeting in July, we have been actively working to address the five key requirements,” said Whitecaps Director of Soccer Operations Bob Lenarduzzi. “Through our discussions with the Port Authority, we are now proposing a revised stadium site which has the potential to resolve or mitigate the five key issues.”

The new proposed site is situated slightly west of the previously proposed site, just north of the CP Rail tracks, on the waterfront and near the SeaBus hub.

The five key requirements the Whitecaps are working with the City and stakeholders to resolve are the following:

  • Provision of an adequate street network
  • Resolution of the risks and liability associated with dangerous goods in the rail lands
  • Reconfiguration of the stadium structure to ensure a better fit with Gastown
  • Resolution of impacts on the liveability of residential areas south of the rail lands
  • Resolution of impacts on future Port Lands development

As part of the process there will be a number of opportunities for the public to provide input on the proposal through one-on-one meetings, public open houses and workshops.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the City, stakeholders and public to ensure that the stadium is an asset to the community,” added Lenarduzzi. “Although we are optimistic about the new proposed site, there is still a lot of work to be done between now and June in order to move forward to the rezoning process.”

The recommended process is scheduled to be completed in June 2007, at that time Council will decide whether the five key requirements can be resolved sufficiently to proceed to a rezoning process. If approved, the stadium will follow a timeline which would see it ready in early 2010.

The proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium would be located adjacent to Vancouver’s transit hub making it easily accessible from the new Canada Line, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, Helijet and numerous bus routes. The multi-purpose venue would accommodate year-round events including more than 30 Whitecaps Men’s and Women’s games, Canadian national team soccer matches, international sporting events such as rugby and tennis, concerts, and community festivals.