Whitecaps welcome NBA's Nash aboard in MLS bid - Vancouver Sun

John Atkinson

Basketball superstar joins effort to land soccer franchise by 2011

VANCOUVER - The United Soccer Leagues' Vancouver Whitecaps have teamed up with Victoria-reared NBA star Steve Nash in a bid to bring Major League Soccer (MLS) to Vancouver by 2011.

At a media conference in Vancouver today, Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi announced that the club will pursue one of two MLS expansion franchises - with local sports icon Nash as part of the ownership team.

"We have a strong and dedicated ownership team, a clear vision and have demonstrated leadership in soccer in North America," Lenarduzzi said. "We are confident that Vancouver and the Whitecaps are ready for Major League Soccer."

Lenarduzzi also stressed that not having a soccer-specific stadium by 2011 - BC Place is being renovated to meet MLS criteria, while plans for a Waterfront home remain in the pipeline - would not hinder the Whitecaps' chances of a landing a franchise.

Nash, whose brother Martin plays in midfield for the USL's First Division Whitecaps, said by conference call from New York: "I am really excited to be a part of the Whitecaps organization and play a role in our application to join Major League Soccer.

"The new partnership is a great fit for me. My passion for soccer and commitment to the community is well aligned with the Whitecaps' vision."

Speaking from the B.C. Summer Games, Premier Gordon Campbell also welcomed the news.

"The Whitecaps have a long and proud history in British Columbia, and we are excited about the opportunity, through Whitecaps Major League Soccer, to inspire British Columbians to lead the way in healthy living and physical fitness," he said from Kelowna.

© Vancouver Sun 2008