Vancouver likes to boast it is a world-class city. But in the negotiations to build a new waterfront soccer stadium it is proving to be a minor-league player indeed.
Five years ago, Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot first proposed building the stadium, at his own expense. However, he has had to fight a long and lonely battle to keep his dream alive.
In the meantime, soccer franchises in Toronto and Montreal have planned and built new stadiums with generous support from the public purse.
Early on, Kerfoot was backed by then-mayor Larry Campbell. But even though the city has since given preliminary approval for the $75-million project, political support has been woefully lacking. For the past 18 months, the scheme has been tied up in talks with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Kerfoot wants to swap a 30,000-square-metre parcel of waterfront land he owns for 10,000 square metres of federally-owned port lands. But last week, the port authority broke a long silence on the talks to suggest Kerfoot was asking it to "give the land away."
Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi says the authority is being "misleading" and welcomes the suggestion of a mediator to decide the issue. But even if the land issue can be resolved, it would still take another eight months for rezoning and development processes.
We say too much time has been wasted already.
It's not just a mediator that's required. We need someone to bang heads together until this stadium finally gets built.
© The Vancouver Province 2008