The stadium: Public or Private asset?

August 20, 2007 at 5:44 am | Posted in Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium | 2 Comments

Those of us who support Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium argue that the stadium is a public asset.   There is no doubt that the stadium will be owned by the Whitecaps, a private business.   In fact, the owner of the Whitecaps has stated that while he will welcome public financial imput, he is willing to build the stadium with his own funds.  This is a refreshing view in the sense that owners of sports teams elsewhere have been known to threaten to take their team elsewhere should local government not pony up the dough to build a new stadium.  My argument is that governments should contribute as they did with the national soccer stadium in Toronto.  There is no threat in the Whitecaps offer, it is a generous one.

Furthermore, the notion that things are either purely public or purely private is a misguided and foolish one.   Many a great institution enjoyed by the public has been created by private contributions and philanthropy.  The New York Public Library is one such institution.  It was originally created by the funds bequeathed by a philanthropist.  In fact, NYC is full of institutions which are enjoyed by the public but which have been made possible by private contributions.  

 In fact, one extreme position holds that everything public is “good” and everything “private” is bad.   This is naive in the extreme:  the private realm is subject to legislative and regulatory control, and the public realm would not exist at all without the income provided by the private realm.  For instance, the reason why we are able to sustain world class education and health care is because of the income created in the private sphere which provides both corporate and individual income tax for the state to utilise.  The public and private realms coexist and are fundamentally intertwined. 

Furthermore, the extreme position believes that profit is just plain dirty.  They see the Whitecaps owner as just another money grubbing capitalist.  In fact, he is a brilliant entrepreneur who made his millions through creativity and intelligence.  He is also a philanthropist who has sunk millions already into BC Soccer infrastructure and also is paying for a residency program for the Canadian Women’s World Cup team.  He is not the bigoted charicature which the anti-stadium crew has painted.  

While the stadium will be owned by the Whitecaps, it will allow people from across the country to enjoy soccer, rugby, tennis, cultural festivals and music.   Sure, it will be privately owned, but it will be a public asset.   I defy anyone to say that BMO field in Toronto is not a public asset….



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  1. Nice words Whitecaps fan! So often we are taken with a false dichotomy (public vs private) that fits an easy black and white world view covenient to lazy minds and short deadlines. Keep on encouraging us to think positively

  2. It is best to hi-light the positive side of what the Stadium will bring to our city rather than get into a mudslinging match with the “anti-everything” set which seems to hold a lot of sway in our fair city.

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