Mayor Sullivan will bear city's torch in meeting with MLS - The Province

Will talk with league boss in New York Marc Weber Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has some 2010 business to attend to, but he's talking a little 2011 on the way. En route to a meeting of Olympic city mayors in Switzerland, Sullivan is stopping off in New York today, in part to sit down with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber. The Vancouver Whitecaps are one of eight cities in the running for the 17th and 18th MLS franchises, to begin play in 2011. The deadline for application is next week and the league is expected to announce the successful candidate cities in late November or early 2009. "I'm not going to be addressing the details of the bid, but what I am going to say is that Vancouver loves soccer and that we want the franchise," said Sullivan. "If it comes right down to a close battle between bids, it's possible that me being there could be helpful. I'll do what I can." Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said he was thankful for the mayor's visit. "To have him there, speaking to what the Whitecaps mean to this community, is certainly something we are appreciative of," he said. Garber named eight candidate cities in his MLS all-star game address, with Montreal, Ottawa, St. Louis, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., and New York joining Vancouver in the mix. Some reports include Miami, too. The big question mark hovering over Vancouver's MLS proposal -- one which received a recent boost from the inclusion of NBA all-star Steve Nash and former Yahoo president Jeff Mallet as owners -- is the stadium issue. Talks continue with the Port Authority over the proposed waterfront stadium and the Whitecaps have a lease agreement to play out of a renovated B.C. Place, starting in 2011. MLS, though, has stated its preference for soccer-specific, team-owned venues. "It's been a struggle to work with the Port Authority and get some flexibility in their development system," said Sullivan, who's twice addressed the issue in Ottawa. "It's especially a struggle given how we've been fast-tracking B.C. Place and their revitalization efforts. "But it has to be acceptable to all the neighbours there -- the residents and the businesses. It has to work with all the complicated developments that are down there." © The Vancouver Province 2008