Expansion Update: Vancouver Whitecaps

On Tuesday we gave a status update on the business aspects of the Portland Timbers’ final weeks before they open against Colorado.  Today, we thought we would take a look at their expansion twin in Vancouver.  The Whitecaps will enter the league as the second Canadian franchise and as one of three teams in the Pacific Northwest.  There are about 72 days until the Whitecaps open against Toronto in what promises to be a fabulous rivalry.

In Vancouver, renovations continue at BC Place, with an expected Summer of 2011 re-opening.  Until then, the Whitecaps will play their games at Empire Field, a 20k seat venue. The new BC Place will have a retractable roof that can open and close in 20 minutes minutes.  The stadium will also feature movable loge boxes that will bring fans of the Whitecaps directly down to the field level.   The stadium will also have a four sided HD television that will be visible from every seat.

On the sponsorship front, Canadian communications giant Bell will be the Whitecaps jersey sponsor when the team starts play in 2011.  The multi-year deal will see all Whitecaps teams wear the uniform,  including men’s, women’s, residency and prospects teams. As part of the relationship, there will also be exclusive mobile video content.  According to the Digital Journal, “through an exclusive agreement with Whitecaps FC and MLS, Bell mobile clients will be able to view unique Whitecaps FC content on their mobile smartphones beginning in 2011. This will include live matches, behind-the-scenes access to Whitecaps players and coaches and other Whitecaps-specific mobile applications.”

Vancouver announced BMO as its initial founding partner.  The four year deal will focus on the Whitecaps youth soccer initiatives and will give BMO a relationship with both of Canada’s MLS franchises.  The relationship will include opportunities for more than 100 local youths to participate in events surrounding Whitecaps home matches at the newly renovated BC Place.  Speaking of the Vancouver, the team also stated that the team has surpassed 16,000 season ticket deposits.  Given historical conversion rates of deposits, this figure bodes well for 2011 Whitecaps attendance.