Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whitecaps bid for the MLS

The Vancouver Whitecaps, fresh off their 2nd USL-1 Championship in 3 years has officially made their bid for an MLS franchise, the 17th or 18th team in the league. Seven teams have applied for the 2 spots, these include, Vancouver, Portland, St. Louis, Montreal, Ottawa, Miami and Atlanta and the 'Caps have a great chance of succeeding in picking up one of the two, but there are some problems. The league is likely going to grant a team in the east and one in the west in order to keep the league even. Which means it really comes down to Vancouver versus Portland and St. Louis, who would be considered a Western team.

Of the three western based teams, Portland's bid has the possibility of a stadium that can be played in now, and will be renovated, with real grass. The problem in Portland is whether or not the MLS wants the team playing in a multi-sport facility. St. Louis is in need of a stadium, and a question still looms about whether or not the financial backing is all there, since it's a mystery on who the other backers are. In Vancouver, the Steve Nash is the start power, Mallett is the connection to the league having helped the MLS set up a deal with Yahoo and Kerfoot is the main money man. Which of those 3 seem the strongest? Vancouver is definitely the powerhouse out of the three, but could that be one of the problems that Vancouver faces?

The 'Caps are the frontrunner out west, but many claim that Montreal is also a frontrunner in the east, but rumblings out of the MLS office is that they don't want to have two Canadian teams joining the league in the same year. One reason is that is because the MLS and Toronto are already having some problems with the broadcasting rights. No one is the USA wants to see TFC play and Toronto currently don't have a national TV in Canada, which may be fixed if another Canadian team joins the fray. The other problem is that in their 2nd season, TFC have shown very limited success on the field. They continue to struggle and are once again one of the worst teams in the league (Luckily for them expansion squad San Jose is just as terrible and the Beckham experiment seems to have failed on the field in L.A.) and that fear is that another Canadian team would be just as bad. The final problem Vancouver face is that they have been consistent in having about 4,500 fans at home games, but they have struggled to really build it beyond that. Would 18,000 people be interested in seeing the Whitecaps play week in week out in Vancouver in season 1? Yes... after season 1, not likely.

The decision will be made at the end of the year or early in 2009. Whatever the decision, here's hoping that a Canadian team gets the call and has all the support that Toronto F.C. have off the pitch... but with some success on the pitch.

written by Tyler Green


Anonymous said...

The Whitecaps bid is very strong. The city has a long history of supporting soccer, and the Whitecaps are the longest running pro soccer club Canada AND the United States.

As for your attendance numbers, they actually average 4900 in a 5200 seat stadium. They usually sell out in good weather, and they were allowed to oversell the stadium for the USL final.

Last year, the Whitecaps drew 48,000 at BC Place for a MLS exhibition game against LA. Also, tens of thousands of Vancouverites head down to Seattle every summer to see international exhibitions and the Gold Cup. When the Caps won the NASL championship, 100,000 lined the streets of Vancouver for the parade.

The government s spending $200 million to turn BC Place into a better soccer facility with a retractable roof. When it's done, it will look like one of the German stadiums used during the 2006 World Cup.

MLS would be nuts to turn down the Whitecaps.

Full Time Football Show said...

I would agree that the city of Vancouver has a very strong bid, but Montreal is the frontrunner from all the bids and there are questions about whether the MLS want two Canadian franchises in the same year (why would Americans care for another Canadian city?).

The attendance numbers are what they are, 4500 or up to 5200, but that's about 14,000 short than the MLS are expecting or wanting. Where are those other fans going to come from?

There is also a reason the Whitecaps didn't play the Galaxy in Vancouver again this season, they knew they wouldn't be able to expect 48,000 buns in BC Place. That is a worry that after you've seen Beckham once, will you come back again? You have to worry that after year 1 and 2, people may not be interested in the new toy anymore.

BC Place will be vastly improvemed when they fix the roof. The new pictures released about what it may look like after do look impressive. As for it looking like the German stadiums... I'm sorry, they won't compare, they will be close, but I've been to the German stadiums, I've sat everywhere from Row 1 to Row 40 and at BC Place, you are still too far away on the sidelines and the slope of BC Place's seating keeps you too far away from the action.

Do I want the MLS to come to Vancouver? Yes. As a soccer fan, I would be excited to see the league come here. But I am also a believer that Vancouver is far from a slam dunk. You also have to remember that the people making the decision are not from Vancouver, they want to do what's best for them, not our city.