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2011: A B.C. Place Odyssey

IMG 4858 sm 2011: A B.C. Place Odyssey

from JayMinter.Com

B.C.

These letters can mean a number of different things. In mainstream American sports, Boston College immediately comes to mind, primarily as a college football mainstay. For the non-sport initiated, B.C. used to be a time annotation. It was meant to indicate the time Before Christ (before historians adjusted to the more secular Before Common Era), and was an inspiration for Johnny Hart’s prehistoric comic strip (itself an inspiration for a defunct PGA tournament held in Hart’s hometown of Endicott, NY).

But enough about us Americans for now. To Canadians, B.C. stands for British Columbia. Throughout the Americas, British Columbia has received headlines over the last couple of years. These headlines started and ended with a common denominator: B.C. Place.

A year and a half ago, B.C. Place was the centerpiece of the world’s attention as it hosted the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Like the Games themselves, the Opening Ceremony wasn’t without glitch, as the torch-lighting portion was marred by a malfunction. As the Games opened, tragedy struck as a horrific, deadly accident occurred at the bottom of the world’s fastest luge course. Warm temperatures throughout the area hampered the skiing events at the Whistler resort. The Games were a success, including coveted Canadian victories in both Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey.

But just over a year after celebrating these Gold Medal victories in Olympic ice hockey, the image of the city would take a turn for the worse. The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks posted the best record in the league and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. The dreams of the Cup riding through the streets of Vancouver would be dashed in gutwrenching fashion, as the Canucks folded after staking a 3-2 series lead. A Game 7 home loss to Boston ignited major rioting in the same streets where people envisioned a parade. This violence made its way to mainstream American news outlets, tarnishing the image of Vancouver to millions.

Interspersed between these two events was the preparations for – and launch of – the Whitecaps. As their inaugural season started, expectations were tempered for the expansion team. Success hasn’t been immediate for Vancouver. They opened their inaugural season by defeating their lone Canadian rival, Toronto, on March 19. Three months later (less one day), they would get Win #2. The drought between these victories saw the dismissal of Teitar Thordarson. Current coach Tom Soehn will make way for Martin Rennie after the current season. The Whitecaps have had bright spots; French Designated Player Eric Hassli has 10 goals, and the Brazilian Camilo has 9. The highlight of their season is certainly a 2-2 draw against Cascade rivals Seattle Sounders, capped by Hassli’s 85th minute goal that should be a favorite for MLS Goal of the Year.

All of this was a prelude to this past weekend, and the reintroduction of B.C. Place. Empire Field served as a temporary home to the Whitecaps while the refurbishments were completed. B.C. Place is not soccer-specific, it is shared with the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions. As with CenturyLink Field in Seattle they will only use the lower bowl for Whitecaps soccer in the foreseeable future. This brings the capacity for soccer to 22,000. One difference from the Sounders’ facility is that curtains have been installed to hide the upper bowl; early reports suggest that these curtains have yet to yield an aesthetic improvement.

Nevertheless the future looks bright. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has indicated that B.C. Place will be considered for high-profile events, such as the MLS Cup Final or an All-Star Game. Another possibility that comes to mind would be First Kick; if the Whitecaps show improvement on the pitch in 2012, B.C. Place could be an excellent site to host a marquee team to open the following season, especially if the upper bowl was opened to extend the capacity to 54,500.

The northwest triumvirate of teams have been excellent additions to the MLS table over the last 3 years. While Vancouver hasn’t found success with their match results to date, there is great promise moving forward. With solid attendance, a revamped facility, and two natural rivals, the Whitecaps will certainly entertain British Columbia – and the rest of us – for years to come, and B.C. Place should be an excellent fortress.

This entry was posted in B.C. Place, Leagues: Major League Soccer, Vancouver Whitecaps. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 2011: A B.C. Place Odyssey

  1. The original Tom says:

    Beautiful corner of the world, a high profile match would be a good
    excuse to go there. Make the final a day game again and put it
    there.

  2. djmk says:

    The Cap’s are awesome. It’s too bad they suck. It’s great to see
    the Portland and Seattle fans enjoy our city, however, next year
    we’ll return the favour and beat you at your home!

  3. Lysander says:

    more than 2 natural rivals. I see portland and seattle as natural
    geographic rivals and toronto and Montreal as natural canadian
    rivals. I would rather they not have nuetral finals and if not that
    at least not canadian finals since it is cold and harder to cross
    the border resulting in low attendence (unless of course seattle or
    portland were in the final!).

    • Earl Reed says:

      Fair point. For some reason I thought adding geographic to that qualifier would seem redundant, but you make a very good case. All in all, Vancouver is a good addition based on the criteria.

  4. Charles says:

    I doesn’t look like First Kick will be in Seattle this year. I
    believe there is a conflict between the date scheduled and the
    round of 8 in CCL. Vancouver would perfect. I hate everything
    Whitecaps, but they have always had great fans.

  5. The original Tom says:

    I don’t know what Vancouver is like that time of year, but Colorado
    is usually good for day games but always cold at night. Of course,
    late fall is worse in that respect. I knew last year’s final
    conditions would be a mess when I learned that the game was at
    night. I don’t know what Toronto was like during the day that day,
    but often November days in Colorado are nice but the nights are
    bitter cold. My point is if they do a day time final (I remember
    some day game finals over the years) they can go to Vancouver, but
    if they insist on night games then I think LA is best. Less at
    stake for “First Kick” of course.

  6. Kasey in Australia says:

    Where is a good place to go to see pictures of BC place in its new
    Soccer configuration please?

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