Vancouver mayor in New York to shore up bid for MLS team - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Vancouver's outgoing mayor Sam Sullivan was in New York to shore up support for his city's bid for a new Major League Soccer franchise on Tuesday.

Two new franchises are set to be awarded in 2011. The Vancouver Whitecaps, in partnership with Canadian NBA star Steve Nash are backing a bid for Vancouver to be one of them.

"We have a multicultural city and many, many people come from countries where they have a really strong soccer culture," said Sullivan, who met with MLS commissioner Don Garber and president Mark Abbott.

The MLS currently has 14 teams, with Seattle becoming the 15th team next season and Philadelphia joining in 2010.

The other potential expansion cities include Montreal, Ottawa, Atlanta, Las Vegas, a second team in the New York area, Portland, Ore., and St. Louis.

"There certainly is a lot of competition, and that's why I'm here," said Sullivan.

"I think I can add that little extra to show that, to give the good reasons why Vancouver is a great opportunity for the league."
Sullivan won't be mayor if the city is awarded a franchise as his party chose a new leader earlier this year.

The Whitecaps currently play in 5,288-seat Swangard Stadium. The team plans to move into 59,000-seat B.C. Place Stadium once a new, retractable roof is installed after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

They are also pursuing plans to build a 20,000-seat stadium on the Vancouver waterfront.

Sullivan said he didn't bring up the idea of new infrastructure with the MLS but focused on how the city and provincial governments are committed to the idea of having a team.

"Vancouver loves soccer, we would love to have a franchise," said Sullivan.

"I think it would be great for the league as well as great for the city."