Open letter from Whitecaps FC on proposed USL PRO franchise in New Westminster

'Caps committed to creating "a crown jewel for the Royal City"

Dear citizens of New Westminster,

On July 8, 2014, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the City of New Westminster announced our intent to launch a United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO franchise in this community. It's an exciting initiative for our club, for the future of Canadian soccer, and most importantly for the community of New Westminster.

Under this proposal, a refurbished Queen's Park Stadium would become the home pitch for Whitecaps FC's USL PRO team while remaining accessible for various community sports and events. Our club has always prided itself on being a significant asset to the local community, and it's a responsibility that we take very seriously. As long-term committed tenants, Whitecaps FC will be exclusively responsible for all operating expenses associated with the team including stadium rent.

More than ever, a beautiful refurbished Queen's Park Stadium would become a multi-use facility to be enjoyed and used by the community year-round, as managed by the City of New Westminster. The venue has a long history, which would be celebrated by preserving and upgrading the main structure of the existing stadium. Upon refurbishment, the stadium would not only house professional soccer, but also a variety of festivals, community events like May Day and Movie Night in the Park, and local arts ­all of which our club would be keen to participate in as members of the community.

We are committed to working with the city and its residents to make sure this is a crown jewel for the Royal City. With that in mind, we want to take this opportunity to provide some facts about our proposal.

Our vision:

  • Build a successful franchise that the community can be proud of for years to come
  • Grow the sport of soccer in New Westminster, the Lower Mainland, and ultimately the province and country
  • Create a professional team that provides a bridge from Whitecaps FC youth programming to the club's Major League Soccer team
  • Develop a long-term platform to develop young players for the Canadian national team

What are the benefits?

  • Socio-economic: jobs, services, and more business for local establishments
  • Beautifully refurbished stadium at Queen's Park that will be accessible to community events and other sports
  • Affordable, family-friendly entertainment for the community Whitecaps FC camps, soccer clinics, and other community initiatives for New Westminster youth
  • North America-wide recognition for the City of New Westminster - 20 USL PRO teams in North America
  • Great opportunity to see local talent

What is USL PRO?

  • USL PRO is the strongest North American men's professional soccer league below Major League Soccer
  • The league has 20 teams and is growing rapidly
  • USL PRO teams play 28 matches from March through September ­- 14 of those matches are at home
  • It is anticipated that most games will be held on weekend afternoons and early evenings
  • If approved by the September 15 USL PRO franchise deadline, this team would start play in March 2015

We know there's a long tradition of baseball in New Westminster. ­That's why they were one of the first groups our club and the City of New Westminster reached out to as part of this process. Through our conversations with the city, we are confident in their commitment to accommodate baseball's needs. There is room in New Westminster for all sports to thrive.

We believe bringing a USL PRO team to the city would benefit all residents in the long run. Not only would the team bring some of Whitecaps FC's top young players to your doorstep and play a massive part in our efforts to grow the sport, it would also create jobs, attract significant business, and offer affordable, family-friendly entertainment for the entire community to enjoy.

Whether you support this venture or have some questions, we want you to get in touch. Please send your feedback to explore_whitecaps@newwestcity.ca with cc to communications@whitecapsfc.com.

We want your voice to be heard. Let's work together to make sure, if approved, this is a team and a community venue in a vibrant park that we can all be proud of for years to come.

Sincerely,

Bob Lenarduzzi
President, Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Rachel Lewis
Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC