With all the tumolt surrounding Portland’s 2011 expansion effort, its cousin in MLS expansion, Vancouver, has quietly slid under the radar. With opening kick for Vancouver just 86 weeks away, thinks are quietly moving towards a successful opening. Vancouver is well set up for success. The ownership group seems solid. Billionaire Greg Kerfoot has long been a friend of soccer and Steve Nash adds glamor and splash to the ownership. The Whitecaps have done well at the gate and the market is hungry for higher level soccer. BC Place is well situated and funding is in place for a substantial renovation (well over $200 million U.S.) that will add a retractable roof. Soccer capacity will be limited to 20k.
The team has set-up a slick website, that is unfortunately updated infrequently. The site contains links to BC Place renovations, and a brief discussion of the hoped for waterfront stadium. There were reports soon after the announcement of the franchise that more than 5k season ticket deposits had been received.
In the three months since the franchise was awarded, it has been very quiet in Vancouver. However, with almost two years until Vancouver first kicks off in MLS, that is probably a good thing. Portland’s bid has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, while stadium renovations in Vancouver are continuing without dispute. Promoting a team that won’t play a game for two years is a delicate balance. The Sounders did an outstanding job of building momentum up to their 2009 debut and avoided peaking too early. Vancouver can quitely promote their MLS squad through the current Whitecaps, while quietly putting together the support system necessary to maintain and succeed in MLS. We will continue to monitor developments in Vancouver.