By Marc Weber
With one year to go before the Whitecaps debut in Major League Soccer, new CEO Paul Barber called the club's training ground project "my immediate priority."
The $31-million partnership with the B.C. government is being billed as a national training centre and would also include community space.
Delta was the initial site, but that plan fell apart in January. Caps president Bob Lenarduzzi said four municipalities are now in the mix and there have been talks with UBC. Currently, the Whitecaps train on a turf field at SFU.
"This is where they come to do their jobs, day in and day out," Barber said of the training grounds. "They are so critical for every level of this club. We have to make the best with what we've got initially, and we have to plan for the future but be realistic. To get it right will take some time."
How deep do soccer rivalries run in England? Barber, a lifelong Spurs fan, couldn't utter the name of that other club, Arsenal, on Wednesday. He was talking about the movement of executives between North America and Europe.
"Ivan Gazidis did a great job at Major League Soccer," Barber said of the former MLS deputy commissioner, "and now he's using that experience to run one of Britain's oldest and most established Premier League clubs, and, forgive me, I just can't bring myself to mention their name."
Barber comes from a long line of Tottenham fans, though his mother's father, he admitted, cheered for Arsenal and his wife's family are all Liverpudlians. He's relieved to say his three kids are all Spurs fans.
He got a little taste of the I-5 derby potential as 200 Sounders fans showed up for Saturday's friendly at Swangard. Fans are calling the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland rivalry "The Triangle of Death."
"The tribal rivalry in football is critical," Barber said. "We've got a fantastic number of derby matches to look forward to."
WHOLE KIT AND KABODLE
The Whitecaps plan to reveal their new logo and Adidas kit in the next two or three months, shirt sponsor included. Lenarduzzi said five companies are in the mix to be the team's major sponsor. The Whitecaps name is staying. --
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