Whitecaps FC return to BC Place

Whitecaps FC v Portland Timbers – BC Place Stadium – October 2, 2011

Pre-game entertainment provided some of the few exciting moments in a lacklustre Whitecaps loss

When BC Place Stadium intially opened in 1983, Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League played the first sporting event in the stadium, against North West rivals Seattle Sounders.  Following the Friday grand opening BC Lions game, Sunday afternoon saw the current MLS Whitecaps FC make their debut at the newly renovated BC Place Stadium. 
Taking on their other North West rivals, Portland Timbers, the

Whitecaps "Southsiders" supporters enjoy seats right down to pitch level

Whitecaps put on a great opening show for the sell out crowd of 21,000 fans.  The normally cavernous stadiums upper bowl was hidden behind a row of cable suspended sails, creating an intimate setting for an afternoon of football.  The addition of soccer specific seating brought the fans closer to the action as additional seating brought the seats right down to pitch level on the west end and south sides of the stands.  

Whitecaps take their historic debut kick-off at the new BC Place

The exciting pre-game show featured the usual drumming in of the players, anthem singing, flags and fireworks.  A contingent of junior players lined the field and kicked dozens of comemorative balls into the stands and boosted the fans in anticipation of the game ahead.  The pre-game also included 15 year old Branden Tomash scoring the ceremonial first goal on the Bell Pitch at BC Place.  Unfortunately, this was the only goal the local fans would celebrate as the Timbers beat the ‘Caps 1-nil.

BC Lions Raise The Roof on BC Place

BC Lions vs Edmonton Eskimos – BC Place – Sept 30, 2011

With fanfare & anthem sung by Sarah McLachlan the 'new' BC Place debuts

A crowd of 50000+ packed into the new and improved BC Place to witness the Lions beat the Eskimos 33-24.  It seemed many arrived early to get their first glimpse of the interior of the new Lion’s Den for the first time since closing in April 2010 to undergo a $563million renovation. The building should win over the naysayers who were in favour of bulldozing the stadium and starting from scratch.  Judging by the costs of other recent large scale projects the $563 seems like a good value.  It seems that just the concrete shell is all that remains of the old BC Place and even then much of it has been torn away and replaced with glass.  Gone is the famous air suspended, dingy domed mushroom cap, in it’s place is the new crown of suspension beams holding up a new retractable roof. The seats are permanently covered with the field of play open to the elements when the roof is open.  Seeing the roof open for publicly for the first time was impressive and took no where near the advertised 20 minutes to open. Taking less than 10minutes to open up and reveal strands of lights, glittering like stars above us, hung from the support beams.  [cincopa AkEA_saln6g4]
New windows surrounding the upper level seats contain LED lighting which flash orange and black for each Lions win. New, larger seats and seating configuration make the audience viewing experience more comfortable.

New LED lit windows 'celebrate' with BC Lions colours

Even though it was dark, the natural light and air makes the whole visit more comfortable.  An amazingly clear HD scoreboard screen is the second largest stadium screen in North America, after Cowboy Stadium in Texas.

While the old domed roof provided an echo amplification of the crowd noise, making it seem deafening to the opposing teams, it also made the audio sound terrible, the new roof does away with the echo so sound is much better.  On opening night however, it seems that someone forgot to turn on the upper level speakers so sound wasn’t great at first, the verdict is also out until a major concert tests the acoustics of the venue.
Another one of the most noticeable features of the renovations on the concourse is the amount of glass, replacing each of the fortress-like airlock, revolving doors, new two story windows and doors greet guests and special guests as well as many new windows around the

concourse.  The removal of the slow revolving doors has also sped up entering and exiting of the building so even with a large crowd the lines move quickly.  The only lines that didn’t seem to move quickly were at the concession stands, fans were greeted by excessively long lines and concessions running out of some food items. However, with a very large walk-up crowd, of nearly 10000, that’s a lot of extra bodies to accommodate and this was already the largest regular season attendance in years so ‘teething pains’ were bound to happen.  I’m sure by the time the Grey Cup rolls in to town in November all these glitches will be worked out.
With BC Place also being the new home of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps, whose audiences are smaller, the stadium has an alternate seating configuration that will be unveiled with much anticipation on their first home game Sunday Oct 2nd.

What’s on Weekend – September 29 – October 02, 2011

Busy Busy Bizzay!

Thursday Sept 29
– Ongoing until October 14th is the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival
– head down to 455 Abbott St in Vancouver for Vinyl: retro lounge’s Grand Opening
International Design Show West brings together some of the best and brightest in interior design to the Vancouver Convention Centre until Sunday

Friday Sept 30
– It’s finally opening! (weather depending) The renovated BC Place Stadium finally makes its debut as the BC Lions take on Edmonton
– recall Pretty In Pink at take a nostalgic look back at 80’s pop with OMD at the Commodore Ballroom

Saturday Oct 1
– go further back to the 70’s with two thirds of BTO, Bachman & Turner are at River Rock Show Theatre
– at Five-Sixty the lovely and talented Colby B from NYC takes over the turntables, alongside resident fave DJ Adam Dreaddy & DH G-Luve downstairs. Plus come early for Connecting.The.Dots art exhibits.

Sunday Oct 2
– it’s Whitecaps FC‘s turn to christen the Bell Pitch at BC Place as they take on North West rivals Portland Timbers

 

Whitecaps FC say farewell to Empire Field

Whitecaps FC vs Sounders FC – Empire Field – September 24, 2011

Final sporting event kicks off at Empire Field

Taking to the pitch for the final sporting event in the temporary stadium at Empire Field, Whitecaps FC hosted Cascadia Cup rivals Seattle Sounder on Saturday night.  With 500+ Sounders fans travelling up the I-5, the evening was ensured to be a boisterous affair as the Southsiders competed for most vocal supporters.
The first half started off with good back and forth play between the two clubs.  The Whitecaps hit the back of the net first when Camillo scored midway through the first half.  However, a dubious penalty allowed the Seattle to level the scoreline in the first half.  Adding two more unanswered goals by Freddy Montero in the second half, Seattle officially ensured Vancouver was out of the MLS playoffs and secured their hold on the Cascadia Cup (Vancouver, Seattle & Portland vie for the title by having the best record against the other teams).  

After the final whistle, the players take to the field to say Farewell to Empire Field

As the final event at Empire Field nearly wraps up the Whitecaps season the fans, and I’m sure the team too, hope the BC Place era heralds in a more successful page in Whitecaps history.

Hockey Night in Canuck-town

NHL Canucks hockey returned to Vancouver this week for the first time since the infamous Stanley Cup playoff riots in June.
The first pre-season home game of the season against Calgary Flames featured a selection of veteran NHLers looking to extend their careers and a hungry newcomers hoping for their first chance at the big time.
Veteran stalwarts Owen Nolan and Marco Sturm made their presence known amongt less seasoned players, like Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard, looking to make their mark on the squad.
With nothing at stake except for pride, the game turned out to be fairly rough and tumble as each player flexed their muscles.
A good back and forth game with Calgary outshooting the Canucks but the Canucks came through where it mattered, winning 4 – 3. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and another long season is ahead for Canucks fans!

Whitecaps FC vs Houston Dynamo

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Empire Field – August 27, 2011

Whitecaps v DynamoCould we be on a roll? Two back to back home wins for the Whitecaps! I know it’s a lot to hope for but in a season with more losses than wins fans will find hope in every small gain.

As the Whitecaps played their second to last match at Empire Field before the move downtown to BC Place, their was glimpses of good teamwork and skill showing up on the field and for a change it wasn’t all from the opposing team.  The ‘Caps definitely had some good chances on net throughout the match and Joe Cannon kept the score level at nil-nil with some excellent saves. Then late in the match Shea Salinas brought all 20, 226 fans to their feet with an excellent shot into the far corner of the net.  The final 4 minutes of the match remained tense as Houston tried to apply pressure but their poor road record (0W-5L-8D) stayed intact as the final whistle blew for a 1-nil victory for Whitecaps FC. 1 - 0 victory for Whitecaps

If the ‘Caps can maintain the momentum at home and gain some draws and even wins on the road, it will go a long way to boost the team and fan moral as the team launches its next season’s ticket sales campaign.  Let’s hope the next match at home, against arch rivals Seattle Sounds is also a resounding victory! See you there!

Whitecaps FC: Home is where the advantage is?

Whitecaps celebrate a goal on the way to victory over Chicago Fire
Empire Field scoreboard 4 - 2
Hopefully we see more final scores like this next season!

Following a fine home win August 7th against Chicago it was another loss for the Whitecaps FC as they are on the road. With a 3-3-5 record at home but a dismal 0-9-4 on the road it’s obvious home is where the heart is for Vancouver’s Whitecaps. Although Empire Field is only their temporary home while awaiting the completion of BC Place, the fans have turned it into one of the best atmospheres in the league and have become a formidable 12th man.  How much does the atmosphere help the ‘caps, we’ll never know but it’s clear road games are not good for the team’s standings.  Vancouver has one of the furthest travel times but that can’t be the only reason why they can’t seem to break down teams in their home stands.  While this season is far from over, it seems like a forgone conclusion that the Whitecaps will have a hard time moving out of the MLS basement.
What can Vancouver do to improve its standings next season? They’ve fired a coach and hired a new one Martin Rennie of the top ranked NASL Carolina Railhawks to take on the role next season.  More signings will certainly happen but they’ve already changed up the roster, numerous times, to no avail.  Will moving into BC Place in October make a difference? The atmosphere will definitely be different in a venue twice as large but we’ll see what the fans can do to keep the momentum going into next season.  Hopefully a downtown location will only mean more fans coming out to support the team!

What are your thoughts on how the team’s doing and what they could be doing?