Vancouver counts down to MLS!


Today, marks the one-year countdown to Vancouver's return to the highest level of North American professional soccer. A mere 365 days remain until Vancouver joins Major League Soccer (MLS) as the league's 17th franchise in 2011. MLS president Mark Abbott, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson were joined by Vancouver Whitecaps FC chief executive officer Paul Barber and president Bob Lenarduzzi to mark the historic date at the Whitecaps head office in downtown Vancouver.

"We're excited to have Vancouver as our 17th team in Major League Soccer in 2011," said MLS president Abbott. "With Portland also joining MLS next year, our 16th season promises to be an exciting and memorable one; rekindling those traditional soccer rivalries that exist between Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle – and more recently Toronto - will make for great soccer, and will help set the stage for historic battles in the years to come."

Tonight also marks the start of the 15th MLS season, as second-year club Seattle Sounders FC host expansion side Philadelphia Union in front of more than 35,000 fans at Qwest Field. The Sounders are coming off a highly successful first season in the league, having led MLS with the highest averaged attendance (31,203) during the 2009 season. Tonight's match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. PT.


One Year Countdown Video

“British Columbians are excited to see their own Major League Soccer franchise under the new retractable roof at BC Place Stadium,” said Premier Campbell. “We have seen remarkable support for our Canadian athletes competing in the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and I’m confident that the entire Province will get behind the Whitecaps to cheer them on to the MLS Cup.”

Vancouver will kick off their inaugural season at a 27,500-seat temporary stadium at the Pacific National Exhibition's Empire Fields. Later in the season, the club will move to the new BC Place following a $458 million renovation of the stadium. The renovations to BC Place include new lower-bowl soccer-specific seating, concessions, washrooms, hospitality areas, field surface, improved access for persons with disabilities, the redevelopment of all common spaces, and a significant reduction in the building’s energy consumption. The defining features will include the first centrally-hung electronic scoreboard and retractable roof in MLS.

Media Conference

"Hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games showed to the world just how much passion the people of Vancouver have for sports," said Mayor Robertson. "I know that the enthusiasm and spirit we've seen these past few weeks will carry over to 2011 when Vancouver joins Major League Soccer. As an avid fan and player, I cannot wait for Vancouver to reclaim its place as the home to one of the top professional soccer clubs in North America."

"We're very excited to be a year away from starting a new chapter in our club's history," said Whitecaps CEO Barber. "As a newcomer to the city, it’s been inspiring to see and hear people talk about their passion for sport. History shows us that soccer is something that people care deeply about here – it’s a city that’s home to great athletes and great fans – and the Whitecaps intend to continue to support and to encourage that passion in the community. I’m delighted I have the opportunity to help continue to grow the club, with the support of such a dedicated ownership group."

In March 2009, five thousand deposits for Vancouver MLS 2011 season tickets sold out in less than 48 hours. With the next phase of deposits still to be announced, fans are encouraged to join the Vancouver MLS 2011 waitlist or earn priority purchase rights for Vancouver’s inaugural MLS season by purchasing 2010 Whitecaps season tickets. Starting at $270, season tickets include all men’s and women's team regular season and playoff home matches at Swangard Stadium, as well as Nutrilite Canadian Championship home matches against Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. For more information on the 2010 season ticket packages, call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or visit whitecapsfc.com.

ABOUT VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
In 1974, Vancouver Whitecaps FC played their inaugural season in the North American Soccer League, and in 1979, the club won the NASL Soccer Bowl championship. From 1987 to 1992, as a member of the Canadian Soccer League, Vancouver won four straight CSL titles. In 2002, the Whitecaps created a full club model that encompasses professional teams for men and women, extensive youth development and grassroots participation programs, facility development, and the Whitecaps Foundation to support specific initiatives related to health and wellness through soccer. Since 2004, the Whitecaps have won two United Soccer Leagues First Division championships and two USL W-League championships. In 2011, Vancouver will play their inaugural season in Major League Soccer. For more information about Vancouver Whitecaps FC, visit the club’s official website at whitecapsfc.com.

ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. MLS kicks off its 15th season on March 25, 2010. MLS features 16 clubs each playing 30 regular season matches in 2010. Those teams include Chicago Fire; Colorado Rapids; Chivas USA; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; Kansas City Wizards; Los Angeles Galaxy; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; Toronto FC; and, in their inaugural season, Philadelphia Union. Expansion teams in Vancouver and Portland will debut in 2011. For more information about MLS, log on to the League's official website at MLSsoccer.com.