Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zidane follow-up

Just an update on the Zidane event...
Zinedine Zidane and his friends will play a "Canadian All-Stars" team in a charity soccer match at BMO Field in Toronto on June 25. According to the event ad, which appeared in today's Toronto Star, Zidane's friends include Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi and Samuel Eto'o among others. You can see the ad at www.zidaneandfriends.com.

The website of one of the organizers, also mentions that Italy's F.C. Napoli, Partizan Belgrade of Serbia and France's Olympique de Lyonnais will be coming to Toronto and Vancouver in July.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zidane coming to Vancouver... and he's bringing some friends

Zinedine Zidane is on tour, and bringing some of the boys along, including Fabien Barthez, Christian Vieri, Paolo Maldini and Samuel Eto'o. The game will be on Saturday, July 4th at BC Place stadium.

Zidane and Friends tour will also happen in Toronto at BMO Field on June 25th and in Montreal on June 27th at Olympic Stadium.

Tickets will be on sale for Toronto on April 24th. No word on tickets for Montreal or Vancouver yet.

Thriller at Anfield as Arshavin hits four

I've talked about it before on the show. I am not the biggest fan of Andrei Arshavin, I didn't think he would be a good fit with Arsenal, but he is proving me wrong and Arshavin impressed me today after scoring all four goals for Arsenal in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool. It was nice to see the rest of the Gunners scoring today... oh wait, nevermind. His 4th goal should have sealed the game but Yossi Benayoun scored in injury time to equalise for Liverpool. More on him later.

Arsenal are in no-mans land right now in the Premier League standings. They sit 4th and are trying desperately to catch Chelsea, which is unlikely and Aston Villa and Everton chasing one another, so the Gunners probably won't drop out of those Champions League slot. I think they've been able to secure 4th spot.

Benayoun meanwhile seems to score when he needs to. A late game winner today, a late game winner against Fulham at Craven Cottage a few weeks back. Benayoun seems to be the perfect super sub. He reminds me of Ole Gunnar Solsjaer (Liverpool and Manchester United fans will just love me for suggesting that) because he always seemed to score those big goals. Who could forget the game winner in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Benayoun reminds me of that. Ofcourse Benayoun hasn't scored a goal as big as Solsjaer, but he has chipped in with very important game winners or game levellers throughout the season. If I was putting together a team in this day an age, finding a guy like Benayoun is an absolute must.

Liverpool meanwhile pick up the point to draw them level with Manchester United for top spot. Manchester United has two-games in hand on Liverpool, one of them coming tomorrow, and it would seem unlikely that they would drop six-points and allow Liverpool to get back into the race. Liverpool down the stretch have a better schedule, facing three of the bottom five teams in their last five games. United face a tougher test. Two bottom dwellers aside, they face Arsenal, have a Manchester Derby and a returning to glory Tottenham squad. It will be interesting, but Manchester United should hold on for the title this season. Liverpool meanwhile may have to worry about Chelsea, who after tomorrow, could be 1 point back of Liverpool. The race for 1st is coming down to the final few weeks and it should be an interesting ride.

The top of the table is interesting, but the story line at the basement is just as interesting. Eight different teams have the potential of being dropped in the relegation battle. It is that tight. A couple wins can get you out of the drop zone, a couple losses can put you right back in. West Brom is really the only sure bet in going down. The others that are in the relegation zone and on the cusp include Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Hull City, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Bolton. The ride at the top is going to be entertaining, but the ones at the bottom with be just an intriguing. It's going to be a very fun May in the Barclays Premier League.

In Spain, Real Madrid have made things interesting, sitting just three points back of Barcelona. Barca do have a game in hand though and don't look as though they will slip up at all.

Over in Italy, Inter Milan have the Serie A all but wrapped out. Two separate battles in Italy, one for second and also a battle for 4th.

The Bundesliga in Germany looks tight also, 2 wins and 2 losses will move you from 1st to 5th. 1 win and 1 loss will take you from 2nd to 5th, it's that tight.

Some very entertaining battles in the month of May in Europe.

'Caps v Aztex tonight... Head Coach Adrian Heath

The Vancouver Whitecaps will play the expansion Austin Aztex this evening in Texas. One of the more interesting stories about the Aztex is not so much the team and the players, but head coach Adrian Heath. Marc Weber from the Province newspaper had a nice article about his career and what brought him to Austin.

Full-Time also had the opporunity to speak with Adrian on our show on Sunday evening. You can download the podcast by clicking here or here.


Fox Soccer Report analyst Bobby McMahon is supporting

Got this picture sent to me yesterday as Bobby McMahon from Fox Soccer Channel shows his support for the show Full-Time: Vancouver's Soccer Show on the Team 1040.

We thank him for his support and throw our support over his way

As for the scarf, those were made by the good folks over at ruffneck scarves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Three Lions Cafe

We've been telling you for weeks about our boys at the Three Lions Cafe and that it's the best place to catch all the football you can handle while enjoying unique beers in proper pints... all this while eating some of the best authentic english food around.

So visit Vancouver's latest soccer hot spot. Tell them the boys at Full-Time sent you!

News and Notes… blog edition…

Well, on Sunday evening during the show, predicted that Liverpool would be able to come back and beat Chelsea in the 2nd leg match in the UEFA Champions League. Who would have thought that it would be so wide-open and 8 goals were to be had. Liverpool made it close in the 1st half. Drogba pulled one back for Chelsea… after Reina’s error and own goal, it seemed like Chelsea was set. Frank Lampard added a 3rd for Chelsea after a beautiful set-up from Ballack and Drogba… but hold on. Lucas, then Kuyt… and then almost a 5th. Liverpool would have been set, but no, Frank Lampard adds Chelsea’s 4th and the Blues head on through to face Barca after they beat Bayern Munich 5 – 1 on agg. All I can really say is wow! It was a ridiculous game, with lots of excitement, energy and gut wrenching. My man Simon, owner of the Three Lions CafĂ© at Broadway and Ontario in Vancouver, says he wasn’t worried, but I suspect that there were a couple of those “Oh Sh*t” moments during his lunch this afternoon. Meanwhile, my Liverpool friends have yet to return any emails or phone calls.

The U-17 Canadian squad has been named for the 2009 CONCACAF Championship. Four Vancouver Whitecaps residency program players are involved, four member of the TFC Academy are also involved. It’s good to see that the residency and academy programs are really building soccer within Canada. Hopefully the results are there. It is also interesting to note that FC St. Pauli’s Jaineil Hoilett has been named to the squad. I know that he has been selected and played for Canada before, but I wonder how much this will play into the mind of Jaineil’s older brother David. There was some question as to whether he would play for the Canadian squad, but if younger brother Jaineil is there playing for the Maple Leafs, it may sway his decision to wear the red and white.

The Whitecaps leave for Puerto Rico on Thursday. It’s not new news that Marlon James will miss the trip, we knew that already. James missing though will give 3 youngsters a terrific opportunity to make an impact. Marcus Haber performed well in the ‘caps home opener and will get plenty of chances on the road trip. He was a key player in Vancouver’s scoreless opener and my Man-of-the-Match. The two wildcards at this point are Randy Edwini-Bonsu, who played well in the U-20 CONCACAF Championships, and Dever Orgill who turned heads at the Dallas Cup. Both will likely get a shot to play on the road trip. And it will be a nice competition between Haber, Edwini-Bonsu and Orgill for that 2nd role to play with Charles Gbeke.
Update - Edwini-Bonsu has picked up an injury and won't be making the trip, giving Haber and Orgill a glorious opportunity up front. Thordarson will announce his travelling roster and without James and Edwini-Bonsu, it's almost a sure thing that Orgill, Haber and Gbeke will be the men up front.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

NDP Clarifies Position on BC Place Retractable Roof Plans

Veteran BC NDP politician Mike Farnworth, the Opposition House Leader and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, clarified his party’s election platform position on the future of BC Place today on TEAM 1040.

First elected to office in 1991 after three terms as a Port Coquitlam city councilor, Farnworth threw his support – and that of his party – behind the $365 million renovations at BC Place, current home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League and future home of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer franchise in 2011.

Farnworth told TEAM 1040 sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht that the BC NDP “supports” the current $365 M BC Liberal government plan going into the May 12th provincial election. Asked to clarify the party’s position on the BC Place renovation plan first announced by the BC Liberal government last May, Farnworth told Mayenknecht: “It’s going ahead. It’s in our capital plan and we want to make sure it’s in place for the inaugural (MLS) season in 2011. We’re looking forward to it. We’re very excited about it.”

The comments this morning on The Sport Market on TEAM 1040 and team1040.ca helped dispel widespread confusion – and concern – expressed by those following a series of online caucus statements, web-based advertising and media comments made by provincial New Democrats over the past 45 days. Previous NDP statements – including a reference highly-critical of the $365 M BC Place renovation plan in its election platform released Thursday, April 9th – indicated the NDP was toying with the idea of scrapping plans for the retractable roof at BC Place and replacing it with a more modest fixed roof similar to the existing dome.

The current plan by BC Pavilion Corp -- which operates both BC Place and the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre on behalf of the BC Government -- includes up to $200 M for a retractable roof to be completed after the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and upwards of $150 M for interior and exterior renovations, including a $43 M seismic upgrade.

Work already begun on the interior upgrades is expected to be completed before Vancouver 2010, with BC Place serving as the venue for the official opening and closing ceremonies February 12th and February 28th. The BC Lions have already moved their business operations staff to the CFL club’s Surrey training headquarters to accommodate the interior renovations at BC Place.

BC NDP spokesperson Stephen Howard said in an email Friday afternoon that if elected, the party would work closely with Whitecaps FC owner Greg Kerfoot and President Bob Lenarduzzi to ensure that the team is able to use BC Place for its inaugural MLS season in 2011: “An NDP government will prudently take a close look at the plan. If there are possible ways to save money on the project, then we will work with the Whitecaps to try and implement any possible savings.”

Farnworth went further, telling Mayenknecht: ““We are certainly not going to do anything that in any way will jeopardize MLS coming to Vancouver in any way, shape or form. We’re going to ensure that everything is fine for the inaugural season in 2011. It’s in our capital plan and we’re committed to that.”

He also said the NDP platform allocates $100 million to build soccer fields and other important recreational facilities in communities across B.C.

Mayenknecht brought the issue to light Thursday on Pratt & Taylor on TEAM 1040 and again on The Rick Ball Show Friday on TEAM 1040, referring to information posted at www.bcndp.ca and a VancouverSun.com blog posted March 31st by respected provincial political columnist Vaughn Palmer.

The BC NDP posted an item February 26th, 2009, on its Newsroom at bcndp.ca, criticizing the BC Liberal government and Premier Gordon Campbell for going with “a fully-loaded, retractable roof, rather than a more affordable design.” The item went on to say: “At times like these, why choose a Lamborghini when a Honda will do just fine?”

Moreover, BC New Democrat Adrian Dix went on the record with The Vancouver Sun’s Palmer that the NDP would be “explicit” about the party’s plan in the upcoming provincial election campaign.

“I think if you asked people in Vancouver what their priorities are, a retractable roof wouldn’t be high on the priority list,” Dix told Palmer on Voice of BC on Shaw Cable on March 26th. “I think it just shows what his (Campbell’s) priorities are and we’re going to have very different priorities in the election.”

But on Friday, April 10th, the BC Newsroom at www.bcndp.ca posted an item which appeared to reverse the concerns expressed in the BC NDP’s February 26th posting and by Dix, announcing: “Our election platform does including funding to cover the estimated $365 million cost of a retractable roof based on the limited details that the Campbell government has released about the project.”

In the past, the BC NDP has criticized the Campbell government for not responding sooner with a long-term plan for BC Place after an incident in January of 2007 where the roof ripped and deflated. They have suggested that moving earlier could have avoided “sky-rocketing project costs” and seen all of the renovations – including the new roof – completed before Vancouver 2010.

“I think most would agree that having the full meal deal in place for Vancouver 2010 would have been ideal and nobody’s thrilled with the cost overruns at the new Convention Centre but I would suggest that with construction costs actually coming down in the past six months, the argument about escalating costs threatening the BC Place project is misplaced,” said Mayenknecht, a Vancouver-based marketing communications specialist with Emblematica Brand Builders and a 25-year veteran sports executive in the National Basketball Association, professional tennis, soccer, lacrosse and Olympic sport.

“I believe it was a mistake by the BC NDP and senior New Democrats to make the series of online and media statements they made in February and March, putting the whole BC Place roof project in question,” said Mayenknecht. “But I believe it was a good move to come forward today to clarify their position because it is an issue that concerns tens of thousands of sports fans, especially those close to soccer and football.”

Vancouver’s recently-awarded Major League Soccer franchise is slated to begin play in 2011 under the new retractable roof at BC Place and the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League are also well into marketing the renovation as part of their season ticket sales campaigns. The MLS franchise was awarded on the basis of the retractable roof plan, which includes the capacity to create a fan-friendly lower bowl seating configuration of 20,000 at BC Place.

The BC Place plan is modeled after similar retractable roof upgrades showcased during the 2006 FIFA World Cup of soccer in Germany, most notably Commerzbank Stadion in Frankfurt. According to BC PavCo, the overall plan of $365 M will be offset by the development of lands immediately adjacent to BC Place, energy savings, corporate sponsorships and expanded event business. PavCo has already dedicated $25 million in existing surplus to the renovation budget.

Mayenknecht has lauded retractable roof plan for driving significant new revenue streams for PavCo in general and BC Place in particular. The BC Lions and new MLS soccer franchise are expected to generate spin-off economic benefits of upwards of $60 M per year between home dates for the two franchises. Special events such as the Grey Cup, awarded to Vancouver and BC Place for 2011, are expected to generate more than $75 M alone.

“The difference in price between a $200 M retractable roof and a new $50 M fixed dome would not only be offset by that amount of economic impact by 2013, I could see PavCo covering the full capital costs in their budget within seven years. It’s impossible to compare the event hosting capacity of BC Place with a fixed dome and BC Place with a retractable roof. That expanded business is the first punch of economic benefits behind a retractable roof. The second is the resultant new sponsorship opportunities, including plans for corporate naming deals for the concourses and the stadium itself.”

-courtesy TEAM 1040

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NDP Angling to Cancel Retractable Roof Plans for BC Place

Based on online caucus statements and party advertising launched in late February, the BC NDP appears to favour scrapping plans for a retractable roof at BC Place stadium.

“It's not explicit in the election platform release today, but they’ve made it clear in a series of pre-election trial balloons what their preference would be and that’s to scrap the plans for a retractable roof and proceed with a simpler replacement fixed roof,” said TEAM 1040 sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht, who will discuss the issue Thursday at 4 p.m. on Pratt & Taylor with afternoon show co-hosts Dave Pratt and Don Taylor. “And if they proceed with that position, it’s not only wonky politics but it’s wonky economics.”

The retractable roof is part of a comprehensive renovation plan announced last May and priced out at $365 million by BC Pavilion Corporation in January. Upgrades to the 26-year-old domed stadium, originally built in 1983 to coincide with Vancouver’s hosting of Expo 86, include new seating, improved washrooms, concessions and concourse amenities, corporate suites and exterior design elements, all of which are scheduled to be completed in time for Vancouver 2010. BC Place will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Winter Games February 12, 2010 and February 28, 2010.

Mayenknecht suggests the position of the provincial NDP on BC Place is a classic example of politicians using a high-profile sports property or issue to make a political statement; and in this case, he believes it’s a highly-questionable statement at best.

“They appear to be using BC Place to position social spending, health care and their so-called larger public interest over stadium spending and so-called narrow interests,” said Mayenknecht. “It has the potential to foster the divisive politics of Vancouver against the rest of the province which in itself makes it questionable public policy. But the real red flag gets raised for me on the simplistic, wrong-headed economic argument they seem to be preparing to sell in the upcoming May 12th election.”

Mayenknecht, the host of The Sport Market on TEAM 1040 and team1040.ca Saturdays at 9 a.m., believes the NDP is overly-simplifying the economics of the proposed renovation and has fallen into the trap of looking at only one side of the project: Its costs.

The roof, estimated to account for up to $200 M of the overall renovation plan, will be installed sometime in the spring of 2011. It is modeled after similar retractable roof upgrades showcased during the 2006 FIFA World Cup of soccer in Germany, most notably Commerzbank Stadion in Frankfurt. The interior upgrades are expected to cost at least $65 M. The renovation also includes a seismic upgrade valued at approximately $43 M. The balance will be spent on exterior upgrades and other renovations designed to extend the life of the stadium for at least another 20 years.

“The first issue I have is how they’re spinning the cost of the retractable roof as 365 million dollars and how they’d replace that ‘Lamborghini’ with a ‘Honda’ in the form of a new fixed roof,” explained Mayenknecht, who projects the actual net difference would be more in the range of $125 M to $150 M. A new fixed roof would cost around $50 M but would not generate nearly the same amount of event dates, attendance and economic spin-offs.

“The retractable roof is certainly the more expensive option, but what it does is completely change the dynamic for BC Place in terms of high-impact sports and entertainment events, not to mention a more attractive platform for conventions in the spring, summer and fall,” he said. “BC Place with a retractable roof would likely generate close to $100 M in spin-off economic impact in an average year and more when special events such as the Grey Cup are factored in. The project could return its investment to the community-at-large in less than four years, cover the costs of the more expensive roof in less than two years and fully pay back the investments of PavCo and the provincial government in well less than a decade.”

Mayenknecht also said BC Place represents a shovel-ready economic stimulus project, making it even more justifiable in 2009 than it was in early 2008. He also suggests the NDP would be inviting significant complications and costs in connection with the Vancouver MLS franchise slated to begin play in 2011 under the new retractable roof at BC Place.

“The retractable roof, which in itself is a device to create a fan-friendly lower bowl seating configuration of 20,000, was central to the Vancouver MLS expansion bid,” he noted. “And both the Whitecaps FC and BC Lions are already selling season ticket packages based on having the new roof in place in two years. It would be a nightmare for the two professional franchises to step back from those commitments, especially the new MLS club.

“It’s beyond me as to why the BC NDP would even consider such an anti-sports development platform given the proven economic, social and health benefits of a sports and active living agenda for young people,” said Mayenknecht. “I’m sure there will be tens of thousands of sports fans, in particular those close to soccer and football, in the Lower Mainland ridings who will take a close look at this position before voting in May.”

PavCo estimates that the full renovation and retractable roof plan will generate $100 M in annual economic activity, cause savings in energy costs associated with a fixed air-supported roof and create more than 2,000 jobs. Government officials have reported that 300 people are already working on-site on the initial phases of the renovation.

Estimates for the economic impact of an MLS franchise playing at BC Place are in the $25 M per annum range. The BC Lions could drive $35 M to $40 M annually with the increased attendance projected from a retractable roof. The 2011 CFL Grey Cup would generate at least $75 M (based on results from the last hosting in 2005).

Mayenknecht, a former sport management and marketing executive in circles such as professional tennis and the National Basketball Association, holds post-graduate degrees in political science and public policy. He is a principal in Emblematica Brand Builders, a Vancouver-based business development and communications consultancy.

-Courtesy TEAM 1040

Mike Farnworth of the BC NDP will be live on The Sport Market on TEAM 1040 on Saturday, April 11th, 2009 to talk about their position re: BC Place. The Sport Market begins at 9 am PT. Farnworth will be on at 9:30 am. listen live at http://team1040.ca/

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Setanta and Rogers Sportsnet - the new home of UEFA Champions League

Setanta and Rogers Sportsnet will be the new home of the UEFA Champions League in Canada starting in the fall of 2009.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Harper and Hargreaves vs. Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper staged a photo opportunity on Wednesday morning with Owen Hargreaves, the Calgary-born soccer star who plays for Manchester United in the English Premier League.

“Owen Hargreaves is one of Canada’s most famous and accomplished international athletes,” Harper said in a release. “Given soccer’s massive worldwide appeal, it is certainly refreshing to note that one of the world’s brightest stars is Canadian. … Thank you, Owen, for all you have done to shine the international spotlight on Canadian soccer.”

Hargreaves, who left home as a teenager to pursue his soccer career in Europe, opted to play for England over Canada. The 28-year-old has won 42 caps for England and was a key player for the country at the 2006 World Cup.

He was eligible to play for England through family bloodlines.

This photo has sparked major debate about Hargreaves and Harper. A good Canadian from here in Vancouver and proud supporter of the Canadian National Team, Massimo Cusano, wrote the following:

I am appalled that Prime Minister Harper took the time to meet with Owen Hargreaves while in England. Owen Hargreaves is an opportunist that thought selfishly about his own career instead of his country. The fact that Mr. Harper recognized this man is disgraceful.

As an avid supporter of our Men's National Team, I find it very disheartening to watch those that represent this country struggle while arguably our most talented players, Owen Hargreaves, Jonathan De Guzman and Daniel Fernandes, play for England, Holland and Portugal respectively. All this despite the fact that they were all born, raised and trained in this country for the majority of their youth. It is my belief that if these players wore the red and white of Canada, we would be celebrating a World Cup appearance in South Africa in 2010 regardless of CSA incompetence.

The story behind Mr. Hargreaves goes much deeper however. You incorrectly state that 'Canada only noticed him once he was gone'. In fact, Hargreaves unsuccessfully tried out for Canada's U17 national team. People may look at this as justification for his decision, however I strongly disagree. Owen was an underage player at the time and we all know the difference one year of development can make at that age group. During his time at Bayern Munich, he was approached by then Canadian manager Holger Osieck. Owen even appeared on a Sportsnet television interview saying that he was willing to represent Canada. But then came wind that England may be interested and Mr. Hargreaves became much more evasive. Being eligible to represent one of three countries (Canada, England or Wales) he meticulously calculated which decision would offer him the most personal gain, ultimately choosing England. In the end, he defended his choice by saying that he always felt more British than Canadian anyways. If this was the case, why did he participate in a Canadian youth team camp in the first place? He is a first-class hypocrite, not a first-class Canadian.

I have an enormous amount of respect for players like George Weah and Ryan Giggs; players that chose to represent their country knowing that they may never have the opportunity to play in the World Cup. That requires sacrifice. That is honourable. Unfortunately, Owen does not seem to possess those characteristics.

I have called to schedule an appointment with my MP to personally convey my astonishment, dismay and outrage at Mr. Harper's photo opportunity. I have voted for Mr. Harper's party in the last 2 elections. Unless he issues an apology admitting that his meeting with and acknowledgement of Mr. Hargreaves was indeed a mistake, he will not see my vote again. Many may consider this childish. How could such a trivial issue determine my future vote? But to call this issue trivial is to miss the bigger picture. With one simple photo, our Prime Minister has diminished the actions of all those that have represented this country, our country. We have soldiers in Afghanistan that are willing to pay the ultimate price for Canada; Owen Hargreaves did not represent Canada because he was not ready to sacrifice the size of his pocket book.

Warmest regards,
Massimo Cusano

Mike Martignago and Tyler Green will share their thoughts on the show on Sunday night. Full-Time is on at midnight, following the Canucks v Colorado game on the TEAM 1040.