Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium
The Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium is a proposed open-air soccer (football) facility in Vancouver, British Columbia that would be privately funded and developed by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The proposed location is north of Gastown on the central waterfront on what is currently a parking lot and the site of a helicopter landing pad. The proposed stadium would house the Vancouver Whitecaps FC men and women's clubs.
The $70-million stadium would have an initial capacity of 20,000, which would be potentially expandable to 30,000 seats.
In addition to Vancouver Whitecaps FC matches, the stadium could be host to international soccer matches, rugby union matches and tournaments, tennis and beach volleyball tournaments, and open-air musical events and concerts such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The stadium would have close access to many modes of public transportation, including SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, and buses.
Although Vancouver public support for the stadium is high (a Mustel survey found that 71% of Vancouver residents supported the project), the proposal is inciting protests from several groups including the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition. Well-known local architects Arthur Erickson and Bing Thom have also urged caution, saying that piecemeal development of some of Vancouver's last undeveloped waterfront should be avoided. They believe the stadium would deny waterfront access and would negatively affect the historical theme of the Gastown area. The architects have urged city hall to delay approval until a comprehensive plan has been submitted. Independent architecture firm Hotson Bakker, which was hired by the city of Vancouver, came to the conclusion that the current stadium plans are unworkable. They reported that the development does not fit with the Gastown district and doesn't take future residential developments into account. They also stressed the need for a comprehensive waterfront plan.
A group of local Gastown businesses and residents that support the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium are represented by Stadium NOW!. Thousands have also voiced their support for the project through the Friends of Soccer campaign.
On July 11, 2006, Vancouver's city council gave unanimous approval to continue the planning process, provided that certain critical problems are addressed. Specific issues include the lack of roads for spectator and emergency access, and the stadium's location above railroad tracks. The project will be reviewed quarterly by city planners until the stadium's construction is approved; the developers have two years to accomplish this.
On January 22, 2007, the Whitecaps filed a new proposal shifting the proposed site for the stadium project to the current location of the SeaBus terminal, a short distance northwest of the previous site.
On February 1, 2007, Vancouver City Council unanimously endorsed a city staff report which identifies a process to potentially resolve the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium’s five key requirements set out by City Council. In addition, the staff report outlined a procedure to integrate the stadium with the Waterfront Hub Study.
In July 2007, the City of Vancouver noted that "The Whitecaps and the VPA are now considering an alternative siting which addresses the technical constraints facing the SeaBus terminal site. This would involve some of the VPA-owned land between the SeaBus terminal and Crab Park (see figure below) and would enable the SeaBus to remain in place. This area is anticipated for mixed use development by the Central Waterfront Port Lands Policy Statement (1994) and any proposal would need to be considered in that context." They further added "The Whitecaps and VPA are currently investigating whether this site could meet their needs and aspirations. If the Whitecaps and VPA decide to pursue the development of the stadium in this location, they will need to develop a proposal and submit it to City staff for evaluation and consultation with the public and interested parties."
Initial plans were targeting completion for Summer 2009, though this has been pushed back many times. On March 18, 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) announced an expansion franchise to the city to begin play in 2011. The team has stated intentions to play at least the first season, and possibly up to five seasons, at BC Place Stadium.
- WhitecapsNewStadium.com, New Mustel report finds Gastown residents and businesses support stadium, June 26, 2006
- Gerry Bellett, Architects join anti-stadium camp, Vancouver Sun, May 25, 2006
- Peter Kennedy, Whitecaps stadium given planning go-ahead, GlobeAndMail.com, July 12, 2006
- "MLS awards Vancouver team for 2011". 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-03-18.[dead link]
- "Whitecaps Stadium". 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-03-18.[dead link]
- "B.C. Place to see action by October". The Vancouver Province. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium official website
- Vancouver Whitecaps official site
- City of Vancouver - Central Waterfront Hub Study & Whitecaps Stadium Review