For the past 4 seasons soccer fans in Canada have heard about the success of the Toronto FC fanbase (unfortunately they haven’t been successful on the field).
With the addition of Vancouver to the MLS landscape this season, there is bound to be comparison between the two Canadian clubs. Checking it out first hand I was surprised to see just how different yet similar the experience is. Although BMO Field is the permanent home to TFC, it felt very much like the termporary Whitecaps FC home at Empire Field. Located on the edge of the Exhibition grounds, aluminum stands, open air concourses all echo the Empire experience. Just a bit more polish showed this wasn’t a temporary stadium. Missing from the TFC experience was the family-friendly entertainment and activations from the sponsors we are used to at Whitecaps. The emphasis seemed to be on alcohol sales, as the number of inebriated individuals was surprising. The on field performance was similar as the stadium configuration was similar and sadly both teams are on par with their level of play. Hopefully when the Whitecaps move into the upgraded BC Place field later this season the experience will be even more divergent and the fan base will reflect the wider audience. A winning team on field will certainly help too!
Sports team Mascots are important members of a team, responsible for building enthusiasm in the live sporting arena. Sometimes this is a difficult, thank-less job for those underneath the felt and foam head.
In Vancouver, we are blessed with some mascots with exceptional personalities who truly deliver the entertainment value.
Whitecaps FC vs Sporting Kansas City – Empire Field – April 2, 2011
The sun held the dark clouds at bay while 20,518 Whitecaps fans filled Empire Field for the season’s second home match.
It was nearly a perfect day…if only the ball had gotten past Kansas City’s ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen , it would’ve been perfect!
Having been held to just one goal by some near misses and brilliant goalkeeping by Nielsen the Whitecaps fans were facing a 3-1 first home loss but just as the sun held out so did theplayers. With an ample 5 minutes of stoppage time in the second half the Whitecaps lit up the stadium coming back to put the ball in the net twice more to earn a draw and maintain a loss-less home record. Read the full match report on WhitecapsFC.com If the ‘Caps keep providing excitement it’s only a matter of time before the stands are sold out all season long! Get a ticket and join the White & Blue for a good time! Next home match at Empire Field is Wednesday April 6, 2011
BC LIONS vs SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS : EMPIRE FIELD – 31October2010
Finally, on the last home game of the season, I made it to Empire Field! While BC Place is under renovations the CFL’s BC Lions have ventured across town to their old East Van stomping grounds and encamped at a temporary 27,000 stadium at Empire Field. I’d heard all season about the great views and audience experience and I must agree they have done an exceptional job for a temporary venue. We had great seats (thanks Pam!) in the second row, right behind the Lions bench but it looked like every row had great sightlines of the field. There was decent, fast service at the concession stands and beer stalls around the outside of the stadium. Since it was a dry, warm afternoon when the game started it made the experience even better. The Half-Time show on this day was a tribute to Veterans in commemoration of the upcoming Veteran’s Week. It was a really well done half time experience. I know from speaking with Lion’s management that there were a lot of other great half time shows over the season. So even though at the begining of the season the Lions weren’t putting on a lot of winning shows they still entertained the audience. This seems to have paid off, if the looks and sounds of the boisterous Halloween day crowd is anything to go by, they were still firmly pro-Lions (much to the dismay of the many wearing ’Riders green in the crowd) Next season Empire Field will be temporary home to another football club as Whitecaps FC begin their premier MLS season at the field they also played on back in the NASL era. Once BC Place is completed, scheduled for June, the Whitecaps and Lions will play under its new retracable roof and Empire Field’s temporary structures will come down and it will revert back to a public field. I look forward to seeing more games at Empire!
With Whitecaps defeated in the semi-finals and the USSF D-2 league final about to take place this weekend, now is a good time to say goodbye to the USL/USSF leagues and Swangard Stadium. Home to Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps FC soccer teams since 1987, this 41 year old multi-use stadium will no longer be home field in the coming Major League Soccer era. Over the years Swangard has witnessed our local teams bring home a lot of hardware; 4 CSL championships, 2 USL championships, Commissioner’s, Cascadia and Voyageur Cup. It’s shining moment has to be during the FIFA U20 Wolrd Cup when the stadium was temperarily expanded to 10,000 seats, some great matches occured including a stunning Spain v Brazil round of 16 tilt. World Cup/Olympic qualifiers & FIFA U19 Women’s World Cup have all been held at Swangard. Being a smaller stadium (capacity 5288) it provides an outstanding intimate setting, something the (Whitecap’s) SouthSiders Supporters have used to their advantage when building enthusiams and causing much grief for visiting Goal Keepers (with cries of “You Fat Bastard”) Hopefully, when Whitecaps FC allocate seats in their new temporary stadium at Empire Field, there is a fare share of standing-room tickets for the Southside members and other’s who want to be close to the action! Alas, all is not over for the venerable Burnaby grounds; SFU, High Schools & Local teams will continue to use the facility and special events like 24Hour Replay will be ongoing as well.