Saturday, April 11, 2009

NDP Officially Back Down on BC Place Attacks

Responding to public outrage and pressure from the sports community, the BC NDP offically backed down from their attacks on the BC Place renovations. They also made clear that their platform now includes the full $365 million for the renovations, and includes the retractable roof. The NDP have now also clarified that they will spend $100 million for soccer fields and community centres throughout the province if elected.

You can read their full statement on the matter here:

While it's regrettable that the stadium was the target of political attack ads by the NDP, I am satisfied that the New Democrats are now fully committed to this project. But they should know that the pressure they felt on this issue over the past week is just a fraction of what our community can bring on them, or any political party, if they choose to use sport as a political pawn again.

The past week has been a testament to what the soccer and sports community can accomplish when we band together. This is a strong win for sport in BC. Regardless of which political party wins in May, they can be certain that the sports community will hold them accountable for their promises, and that we will challenge them when they take action detrimental to sport in our province.

Yours in Sport,
Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

Monday, April 06, 2009

CKNW Editorial Slams Both Libs & NDP on BC Place

Today, Jim Mullin of CKNW took direct aim at the BC Place situation, condemning the misleading NDP internet ads, and assigning a fair share of blame on the Liberals as well.

You can hear the complete editorial here:

"The Liberals could have done themselves and all of us a big favour. They could have acted years ago on this issue. The roof should have been in place for the Olympics in 2010, but it isn't after some "Made in BC" serial dithering... Extending the life of the stadium by 25 years is one of the larger projects in BC which can get access to credit, create jobs, build infrastructure, and create spinoff economic benefits, and eventually have the majority portion of the reno pay for itself. In a world where the left and centre of the political spectrum are embracing shovel-ready projects to create jobs and keep the economy rolling, the NDP's position on this issue issue is puzzling at best. At worst, it's designed to pit region versus region, small town versus large city, and rich versus poor. The New Democrats tell us we have to make a choice between social spending before retrofitting a facility that generates economic benefit to the community. That kind of thinking is the economic equivalent of not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time"

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Friends of Soccer Objects to NDP Anti-Soccer Stadium Ads

On Wednesday, April 1, the BC New Democratic Party ran a series of internet ads on several soccer-related websites condemning the renovation of BC Place, and falsely suggesting that the cost of the renovation is coming at the expense of healthcare and the homeless. We at Friends of Soccer find these ads extremely misleading and inappropriate. We call on the NDP to immediately back away from this irresponsible threat to the future of soccer in our province.

The claim in the ad that BC citizens must choose between a soccer-friendly stadium and social services is both false and offensive. The NDP is well aware that the BC Place renovations are to be financed by the future sale and development of the lands surrounding the stadium, along with future sponsorship funds surrounding naming rights. Neither source is drawn from the general revenue tax base that fund social programs. To suggest otherwise is alarmist to say the least.

The NDP is also aware that the BC Place renovations are crucial to the development of soccer in the province. Only two weeks ago, Vancouver was awarded a Major League Soccer team for 2011. The BC Place renovations promised by the current provincial government were overwhelmingly the deciding factor in the bid process. The threat made by Carole James to revoke the renovations could place the future of professional soccer in BC in doubt, and has the potential to choke soccer projects being undertaken in other parts of BC as well.

Carole James should also recognize that BC Place is a major economic engine for the citizens of BC. Every event held there pumps millions of dollars into the BC Tourism, Hospitality and Retail industries. It is BC's largest trade and exposition centre, hosting over 200 events every year. And it is also home to the BC Lions, a football team loved by people throughout the province. Without these renovations, it is unlikely British Columbia would be hosting the Grey Cup game in 2011. The global exposure this facility provides for BC is unsurpassed.

As citizens, we expect governments to be able to address a host of issues. We expect our governments to provide sustainable healthcare, while still encouraging economic growth in our cities and towns. We expect our governments to help those who are downtrodden, but we also insist that governments allow its working citizens the freedom to build a good quality of life for their families. To say we must choose between these priorities is a false choice, and any party who forces that choice is not capable of governing this province.

Friends of Soccer has always been, and continues to be, a non-partisan grassroots movement. We have always supported the efforts of those who help the game in BC, and we've fiercely opposed those who threaten the development of soccer in our province. I'm pleased to say that we've done this regardless of party affiliation. But in this election campaign, we cannot allow the future of soccer in BC to be once again cast into doubt for cheap political gain.

It is now up the BC New Democratic Party to make a clear statement committing their party to the BC Place renovations without modification of the current plans or budget.

Otherwise, they can be certain that we will not stand idly by in this election campaign.