Whitecaps set to go all Hollywood - The Province

Team ups the ante by attracting celebrity ownership-share interest

Marc Weber

The Whitecaps' Major League Soccer bid is getting another high-tech hike, possibly with some high-profile spin-offs.

Sources confirmed that Bay Area resident Steve Luczo, chairman of Seagate Technology and a man who moves in interesting circles, is set to join the Whitecaps' prospective MLS ownership group.

Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi declined comment, but the announcement could come this week.

Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot welcomed San Francisco Giants part-owner Jeff Mallett and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash -- both Victoria-raised -- to the fold in July.

MLS will announce its 17th and 18th franchises between late November and March.

Vancouver's up against bids from Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, Miami, Atlanta and St. Louis. There are some serious players at the table, including Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Spanish soccer giant Barcelona, which is behind the Miami bid. The expansion fee will be at least $40-million.

Luczo, like Mallett and Kerfoot, made his mark in Silicon Valley. Mallett is a former Yahoo chief operating officer, and Kerfoot's former company, Crystal Decisions, was once called Seagate Software. He and Luczo worked together in various capacities under the Seagate Technology umbrella. Seagate Technology is the world's largest hard-drive manufacturer and a leader in digital storage.

Don't get the idea, though, that the 51-year-old Luczo wears a pocket protector. While Kerfoot's love of soccer is well-documented -- he writes cheques to the women's national team like youth teams hand out oranges at halftime -- Luczo's sporting interests are more varied. And his hands are on hip, socially-conscious projects.

Think a techie version of Nash -- Nash 2.0.

Luczo surfs, snowboards and mountain bikes. He's part of a Silicon Valley group that owns about one-third of the Boston Celtics, and he also owns a large chunk of the National Lacrosse League's San Jose Stealth.

He's a songwriter and co-founder of a music company which develops San Francisco artists. His company Balance Vector brings together athletes and artists to raise awareness for charitable events, and there's also Balance Vector Productions, which finances projects such as Made in America, a documentary on gang life that played at the Sundance Festival.

The film was a collaboration with Verso Entertainment, NBA player Baron Davis's production company. It was directed by Stacy Peralta (Dogtown, Z-Boys and Riding Giants) and narrated by Forest Whitaker, Best Actor Oscar winner for Last King of Scotland.

Then there's Luczo-Dragon Racing, co-owned by Luczo and Jay Penske. The last two Indy 500s, they partnered with drivers and celebrities, including Nash, to drum up cash for charity.

Luczo and Davis are also investors in the networking site ibeatyou, where people compete online with anyone at anything.

Nash is on there, throwing down a free-throw challenge and also engaging in a staring contest with the sultry Jessica Alba.

WHITECAPS NOTES

Delta dawn of training facility for title team

The Vancouver Whitecaps are a yard closer to their goal of training full-time in Delta.

As reported in the Delta Optimist on Tuesday, the municipality has signed a memorandum of understanding with the soccer club to construct a $25-million training centre.

Its facilities would also be serving the local community.

The Whitecaps currently train at Simon Fraser University.

"There's still a lot to be resolved," said Caps president Bob Lenarduzzi, "But we feel like we're at place where there's a good chance this could become a reality."

© The Vancouver Province 2008