How Toronto FC can bring the MLS to Vancouver

Oh Canada!

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With the attendance success of the newly formed Major League Soccer franchise Toronto FC, which received a very nice write up in the Guardian today [lg], the question is what does this mean for Canada’s other major soccer loving cities. With Vancouver proving during the recent Under-20 World Cup that it can transform Swangard into a major soccer centre, with temporary rafters vastly increasing the capacity beyond the standard Whitecaps seating, we should at least be on the radar for the league.

The Toronto FC has proven that the multi-cultural makeup of major Canadian cities, including Montreal and Vancouver, is such that a “minority” sport can still get the sort of support that the more established national past-times do. Sure the FC aren’t about to start outselling the Leafs, but their 20,000 seat stadium has been sold out for every game and that looks like it’s going to be the case next year too despite a fairly crap year on the field.

With the Whitecaps moving to a new modern, and larger, stadium downtown [vwc] the question is will that help the MLS decide that Vancouver is ripe for expansion? We’re already on the list [wp]. The other question is what will that mean for the Whitecaps, since it’s not likely that Vancouver can support two professional soccer teams.

The Whitecaps still struggle as the city’s third sport, after the Canucks and the Lions, and Swangard rarely sells out even after a championship season last year. A lot of what tickets are sold aren’t used, and are held by sponsors of the club, or given out to local soccer teams. With the MLS team the LA Galaxy, and David Beckham, coming to town the team hopefully will get a bit of a shot in the arm, but I think they made a mistake in moving the game to BC Place where the atmosphere created at Swangard will be completely lost in exchange for selling a few more tickets.

My best wishes are with Toronto FC, if they can keep up the attendance then I’m hoping that Vancouver will be getting its own team soon.

3 Comments so far

  1. Allen Pike (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 1:00 am

    Wait a minute. If Swangard can’t sell out 7,000 seats, why are they building a 15,000 seat soccer stadium in Gastown?

  2. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

    I think the theory is that downtown, with better parking, they’ll have an easier time selling tickets. Also I get the feeling, though nobody is saying it publically, that they’re hoping it’ll be a step towards getting an MLS team in the city and thus moving the Whitecaps (or what follows) up a league which also ideally would increase attendence.

  3. Jay (unregistered) on August 18th, 2007 @ 8:50 am

    Jeffery, please don’t apologise for blogging about soccer, this is one of the few non-soccer specific places for the general public to see information about and promote the sport…thank you.
    The Whitecaps often sell out Swangard, the seating configuration only allows for 5700 seats, and this year the ‘caps added SRO tickets to increase the capacity.
    Having the Galaxy exhibition game at BC Place, while granted will not have as good an atmosphere, does provide for selling more than just a few extra tickets, 30,000 more tickets have been sold. Although many of those tickets have been sold on the back of Mr Beckham, this game and the excellent U20 turnout demonstrate the appetite for quality soccer in this city.
    If the Whitecaps were to move to MLS they would never be able to compete without a larger stadium. Swangard is about average for the capacity of USL stadiums but the smallest venue in the MLS seats 18,000.
    Thank you again.

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