As part of our ongoing examination of MLS expansion targets, it is now time to explore Vancouver’s bid for 2011. Jeff Mallet, Greg Kerfoot, Stev Luczo and Steve Nash (yes that Steve Nash), are the men leading the charge to bring MLS to Vancouver in 2011. The proposed team would play at BC Place Stadium following a renovation and in a Soccer Specific Stadium sometime thereafter. Vancouver is already home to the Whitecaps of the USL and would add a second Canadian team to MLS.
The ownership group seems solid. Mr. Kerfoot has long been a friend of soccer and Steve Nash adds glamour and splash to the ownership. The owners have the money; Kerfoot is a billionare. The Whitecaps have done well at the gate and the market is hungry for higher level soccer. BC Place is well situated and the proposed soccer stadium is also in a solid location.
All that said, color me unconvinced. The stadium situation is murky (there is no guarantee the sss wil be built), and BC place is not an ideal soccer venue. More importantly, I question how much the League really wants a second Canadian franchise. Montreal was a unique creature; both because of its rivalry with Toronto and high level support (just see the massive support Montreal got for its Champions League game). Vancouver is way off the typical sports beaten path (just ask the Grizzilies of the NBA), and would add even more lengthy travel to the MLS season.
All that said, I think the Vancouver bid is attractive for many of the same reasons I support Portland. The money is there, the support is there and as a “mid-size city” (for sports purposes), I think it is a good fit for MLS. With the target date for announcing new franchises approaches, we will continue to monitor Vancouver and the rest of the bids.