The Immediate Future of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Canucks, and Giants
Ask a number of Vancouverites about the Vancouver Whitecaps and you are more than likely to get just as many different answers. That's because of the complicated history of the Canadian soccer team.
The original Vancouver Whitecaps were founded in 1973; and single-handedly brought “soccer-mania” to Vancouver and lower mainland, as well as the rest of British Columbia.
In the peak years, the team would play to sell-out crowds of 32,000 at the Empire Stadium.
In 1983, the Whitecaps moved their home to the 60,000-seat BC Place Stadium.
A lot of fans felt the magic was lost in the new sterile stadium, and at the same time the NASL (North American Soccer League) folded, which forced the Whitecaps to fold as well.
In 1986, the current Vancouver Whitecaps team was founded, as part of the USL (United Soccer League), which is one tier behind the Major Soccer League.
Recently though the Whitecaps have announced they are leaving the USL and have joined forces with other teams to create an entirely new league.
The new league has yet to be named, and fans are left wondering what, exactly, this means for the future of Vancouver soccer.
Many people think this is merely a transition stage as the Whitecaps prepare to enter the MSL and others fear that this might mean taking a season off to manage the transition.
As of this posting (November 2009) plans are still in the air; and fans anxiously await some answers before the season begins.
In the meantime, Vancouverites can turn their attention to other sports recreation teams.
Vancouver is known for loving hockey, and the Canucks hockey team is in full swing.
However, the Canucks have a special challenge facing them this year; they will have to take a six-week break from playing their home arena (GM Place) while Vancouver hosts the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The NFL will take a break for the games from February 14 to March 1.
In addition, the Canucks will have to play 14 games on the road prior to and immediately after the Games.
Combined with the NHL break, this means six weeks without any home hockey for Vancouver.
Likewise, the Vancouver Giants, the junior hockey Vancouver team, will give up its home at Pacific Coliseum for the use of the Games as well.
Like the Canucks, they will spend an extended amount of time on the road prior to and immediately after the Games.
They will also play six of their 36 home games at the new Langley Events Center, which will serve as their “home away from home” in order to accommodate the Winter Games.
So, there are plenty of other sports activities to keep fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps occupied until a decision about their future league is made.
Perhaps all the attention on the Olympics will give the Whitecaps managers and owners the space they need to make this transition without the attention of the press.
Either way, spring will be sure to bring some interesting changes for Vancouver soccer.
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