July 8,2014(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the City of New Westminster have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), marking their intent to work towards the launch of a United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO franchise to the community of New Westminster.
“We are thrilled to announce our efforts with the City of New Westminster to bring a new professional soccer team to its vibrant sports and family oriented community,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi. “A USL PRO franchise in our own backyard is an important step in our efforts to support the development of players, especially young Canadians, at every level by bridging the pathway to our Major Soccer League team, as well as the national team.”
In addition to the current Whitecaps FC ownership group, the proposed USL PRO franchise will be co-owned and operated by Port Coquitlam native Ian Gillespie of Westbank Projects Corp., and New Westminster native Gary Pooni of Brook Pooni Associates.
Lenarduzzi continued: “There is a lot of work ahead, but we’re looking forward to working with the City of New Westminster and all of its stakeholders to make this vision a reality and provide a significant community asset for years to come.”
“This is a great initiative that will bring tremendous benefits for our city,” said New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright. “The upgrades to Queens Park Stadium including a new turf field, video scoreboard, and lighting, along with locating a Whitecaps FC USL PRO franchise in our community will put New Westminster on the map when it comes to the best soccer has to offer.”
Queen’s Park Stadium is the intended site for the franchise, and should the project proceed, it will be refurbished for Whitecaps FC. Community consultation and all related processes will get underway immediately as both parties work towards the USL PRO deadline of September 15, 2014 in order to launch the club’s first USL PRO season in March 2015. The upgraded venue may also see match action from other Whitecaps FC teams including the Girls Elite U-18 team and the Boys U-16 and U-18 Residency sides, as well as other grassroots programs and activities.
ABOUT WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC are the longest running and most successful professional soccer club in Canadian history.
The ‘Caps played their inaugural season in 1974 and five years later the club won the North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl championship. From 1987 to 1992, as a member of the Canadian Soccer League, Vancouver won four straight CSL titles, and in 2006 and 2008 Whitecaps FC won the USL First Division championship.
In 2002, the Whitecaps created a full club model that includes an extensive youth development and grassroots participation programs, facility development, and community relations to support specific initiatives related to health and wellness through soccer.
ABOUT CITY OF NEW WESTMINSTER
As western Canada’s original city, New Westminster has a history of creating opportunity and setting trends. With major investments underway in new residential, commercial and public space supported by active, engaged residents, the city is reinventing itself as a vibrant, walkable, up-and-coming place to be.
ABOUT USL PRO
USL PRO is the strongest U.S. men’s professional soccer league on and off the field below and in support of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on league stability and franchise performance longevity, USL PRO features 14 teams, including expansion teams in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Teams have already been announced for 2015 in Austin, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Saint Louis and Tulsa, with more additions expected soon.
Through aggressive and deliberate growth in adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, USL PRO is building a robust, national professional soccer league in a format that promotes the benefits of regional league play.
In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that features individual team affiliations, inter-league play, and the opportunity for MLS clubs to field a second team in USL PRO. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.