I would love to see Whitecaps games in New Westminster

September 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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The Vancouver Whitecaps and New Westminster City Council are trying to come to terms on a refurbished Queen’s Park Stadium which would host a United Soccer Leagues pro team. The team would function as a farm team for the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS team. This would allow New Westminster to have a new professional sports team in their city. It would allow the Whitecaps to play their younger players and players returning from injury in competitive matches in a competitive professional league in a stadium with a capacity of 3500.

While I am not a resident of New Westminster, I hope New West city council approves the partnership with the Whitecaps.

A well organized baseball lobby is attempting to pull the heartstrings by suggesting the kids who play baseball will have nowhere to play. Others complain there will be noise, traffic and parking problems. Still others say the proposal is being done in a rush with limited consultation.

There is no doubt that the city and the Whitecaps should ensure that if the soccer proposal is a success that baseball kids won’t suffer and will have a place to play ball. I have every confidence they will do so.

The question is: how should Queen’s Park Stadium best be used? While it may be a stadium that is fun to play baseball in, how often is the seating capacity actually used? The further question is: does New West want an aging liability on its hands or a vital and refurbished Queen’s Park stadium that will get much greater use?

It is rather like the city of New Westminster itself: you can see the potential, but the potential is not being realized. It is time New Westminster started realizing the great potential that is there by making bold and progressive decisions.

Noise and traffic issue is a non-issue. The Whitecaps played for years at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby with crowds of 4500, (larger by 1000 than the proposed capacity of Queen’s Park Stadium), give or take. Local businesses got trade from soccer fans, and soccer fans were orderly and quiet. My in-laws live two blocks from Swangard stadium and had no complaints about Whitecaps matches. They only knew a match was on because he could see the floodlights from their house. The City of New West and the Whitecaps can educate fans about the best way to get to the stadium by Transit.

As far as consultation is concerned, there is no doubt that consultation is important, but the fact is that politicians are elected to lead and show vision as well as listen. The opportunity to revitalize Queen’s Park Stadium and make it into a more vital community asset is something politicians should not pass up in favour of the sleepy status quo. People who don’t like a proposals always complain vociferously that consultation has been incomplete or insufficient.

I am hoping that next year I will be able to travel by transit to New West, get something to eat, and watch my Whitecaps play a game. I might even ride my bike there like I do to BC Place on occasion (recently the Whitecaps had a record number of people ride their bike to BC Place for a match). There is no doubt I will spend a lot more time in New Westminster than I do now if the proposal is realized. When the MLS Whitecaps are on a road trip, I will still be able to watch my favourite soccer team play live in New Westminster in a beautifully refurbished Queen’s Park Stadium. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Lets hope the City of New Westminster is able to see the clear value of the Whitecaps proposal and decide to make it work.

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