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Whitecaps Build Training facility.....

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Garden City lands might fit Whitecaps bill

By Martin van den Hemel

Staff Reporter

Mar 26 2005

Soccer squad needs site to build training facility

The Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club is looking for the right place to build a multi-million dollar soccer training facility which would also accommodate the men's national soccer team, and the expansive Garden City Lands might fit the bill.

The club's director of soccer operations, Bob Lenarduzzi, told The Richmond Review Wednesday that he wasn't aware of Friday's historic signing of a memorandum of understanding-expected to be ratified next month-that will see roughly 68 acres in downtown Richmond become city property.

The Whitecaps are looking to build a 10,000-seat soccer stadium in Vancouver in hopes of hosting games for the 2007 Under-20 World Cup, an event that will draw 500 million viewers and will be held in Canada.

While Richmond isn't under consideration for that stadium, the newly acquired lands east of Garden City Road could be appropriate for a soccer training complex. The Whitecaps need 20 to 30 acres and plan to invest up to $20 million on six fields with a club house, office space, a lounge, fitness equipment and changing rooms, he said.

"Certainly the timing is right. That's quite a huge undertaking and we're in the midst right now of looking for land to do that."

George Duncan, Richmond's chief administrative officer, said planning for the 136.4-acre site can't really begin until the deal is finalized in April. But although he can't speak for council, Duncan said he's open to having exploratory discussions with the club.

When asked if he plans to approach the city, Lenarduzzi said Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot is currently out of town and it would be inappropriate to be too proactive before getting direction from him.

"I would encourage, if there's an interest from the city in that regard, that hopefully in the meantime we hear from them. We have actually spoken with the City of Surrey about the idea of sharing at least one of the fields that we had. If you've got a relationship with the municipality you're going into, anything is doable."

Lenarduzzi said he would like to think municipalities see the value of having the Whitecaps soccer club and national teams training in their backyards.

"If the land is large enough to actually provide for municipal fields as well, it seems to me it would be a pretty good opportunity. At this stage we're still talking to municipalities and if there's an interest from a specific municipality that's something you'd love to hear from them on."

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That's so cool. My best friend just moved into a condo overlooking that exact plot of land. It's deluxe (the condo and the expanse of land). Apparently there are plans for a convention centre there, and perhaps a big box like Wal Mart. It will be the site of the media centre for the 2010 Olympics. A whole bunch of stuff could be built there, a soccer complex would be sweet. It's very accessible from the 99 and the 90 and just minutes from Vancouver.

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This is pure speculation and wishful thinking by the city of Richmond and this journalist. The Whitecaps have already announced they are in negotiation to buy land in Surrey for this facility, within walking distance of a Skytrain station so travel to Swangard Stadium and downtown Vancouver (where they plan to build their new stadium) will be easy and painless. Probably in Whalley somewhere, that's where the BC Lions training facility is currently. The RAV Skytrain line to Richmond won't be ready till 2010, way too late for the Whitecaps and I'm not sure it goes anywhere near the lands mentioned.

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quote:Originally posted by analyst

What's the difference between the planned facility in Surrey and what the Whitecaps announced last year for SFU? The plans for SFU were two fields, one of which is already built, and a building with a training centre and offices.

When Lenarduzzi spoke at UVic he was speaking about a large scale facility that would include residences for players as well as class/meeting room space in addition to offices, training centre and at least six fields.

I don't think SFU has enough room for all they want to do. I got the impression that they are also hoping to be the kind of centre teams travel to for training from outside BC or even outside Canada. This would be a money making operation and perhaps SFU is not willing or able to provide the Whitecaps a revenue generating facility?

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The club has advised there will be...

1. New stadium in ***downtown*** Vancouver

2. a small training centre at SFU (already in progress) - to be shared with CMNT & SFU

3. a large training centre in Surrey near Skytrain

The Richmond Garden City article was a joke. Pure, unsubstantiated speculation. That plot is going to be high density condos and other mixed use zoning... the word "park" has been bandied around, but it won't be anything near the size of what the Caps need.

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I have to agree the Richmond article has no teeth and I wonder how it was even printed so much speculation and I got to figure someone wanted to give this one a spin to maybe force Surreys hand at the plan to get that facility going.

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