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.