With the conclusion of our inaugural season in Major League Soccer (MLS), Vancouver Whitecaps FC would like to thank you, the dedicated fans who have inspired a season of passion, excitement, and enthusiasm!
Some have claimed in the past that British Columbia sports fans only care about hockey, but your remarkable support throughout the 2011 MLS campaign has become the perfect counterargument to a debate that has always been a fallacy. With the third highest average attendance in MLS with approximately 20,000 fans per match, Whitecaps FC supporters across BC have flocked to both Empire Field and now to BC Place to catch each and every historic moment.
There have been many amazing stories this season that have proved the strength of our supporters. Those stories range from season ticket holders like Tom van As who has attended every match since the inception of the Whitecaps in 1974, to new fans of the sport who have caught the soccer bug growing throughout BC, including fans who have travelled long distances to enjoy professional soccer right here in downtown Vancouver.
Take for example Curtis Hart, an associate finance and estate planner who attended the first Whitecaps FC MLS match against Toronto FC back on March 19. Hart enjoyed his experience so much that he later returned this season to witness the newly renovated BC Place during the ‘Caps 2-1 victory over D.C. United. “I never grew up with a passion for soccer. I never even really played, but a few friends of mine went to the first game and since then, I’ve followed the team,” said Hart. “With the re-opening of BC Place now as [the ‘Caps] home, I thought I would check it out again. So far, I’m undefeated as a fan this season after watching two victories!"
While Hart has enjoyed being a lucky charm, others have simply basked in the unique atmosphere and fan engagement not available at other sporting events. Kirk Anderson and the rest of his family have season tickets, and they’ve been thrilled to watch the ‘Caps play in North America’s top flight of professional soccer.
“My family and I love sports. We are Canucks and Whitecaps FC season ticket holders and have attended most games this season,” said Anderson, a 21-year old university student. “It’s just special to have another professional sports team in town and to have a legitimate soccer club to call your own. It’s amazing how many people have come; there is a real soccer culture here.”
Those are only a couple of the thousands of fascinating stories that can be told. Whether it’s been the Southsiders and their march from Doolin’s Irish Pub to BC Place for each ‘Caps home match, or the resurgence of the classic “White” “Caps” end-to-end stadium chant, new memories have found a home and new ideas are becoming tradition as the Whitecaps FC imprint continues to grow.
“You get the sense that soccer in North America has finally found a permanent home where it can grow and succeed at its own pace without having to compete against other professional sports. Soccer is a worldwide game understood by millions of people, and that’s why ‘Caps fans have come,” said Anderson. “It’s not a culture sport or something specific countries only play. Soccer is closer to a global religion that complements a city’s sports culture. The people of Vancouver understand that and aren’t shy about it.”
So as the ‘Caps once again become a cornerstone of Vancouver’s sports community, it has always been and will continue to be the fans of Vancouver Whitecaps FC that shine the brightest for the Blue and White. It is because of your knowledge, passion, and respect for ‘The Beautiful Game’ that we will continue to see the conversion of even more people into long-lasting soccer fans who appreciate and passionately defend the soccer culture and experience.
So thank you for a wonderful season of special memories and new traditions; after all, they exist because of you.