Vancouver is the soccer capital of Canada. Period.
I don’t care if the “national soccer stadium” is/was supposed to be in Toronto. The home for both national teams is in Vancouver and this is where they belong.
If there was any doubt about this before, it should be all gone given the support shown in this city for soccer in the last year.
Let’s start with the FIFA Women’s World Cup last June/July.
BC Place drew over 52,000 fans on four occasions, including for USA/Nigeria, Canada/Switzerland, Canada/England, and the Final between USA/Japan.
Perhaps most impressive was the support for the games without partisan appeal.
Over 25,000 watched a pair of games involving Cameroon/Ecuador and Japan/Switzerland in the opening round. Then, over 31,000 watched Switzerland/Ecuador and Japan/Cameroon.
Compare that to Montreal, where they drew 10,175 and 28,623 respectively, for matches involving Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil, and South Korea. Just 24,859 fans showed up to Olympic Stadium for a quarter-final match between Germany and France.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have also seen a great year in attendance, averaging 20,507 fans for their 17 regular season home games. In addition, the ‘Caps drew an average of 17,518 for four games in the Amway Canadian Championship and the CONCACAF Champions League, not to mention 27,837 people for their playoff game against the Portland Timbers.
This year, the Whitecaps have sold out both of their games in their 22,120-seat configuration.
And now, after going 11 years without a competitive match in this city, the forever-criticized Canadian Men’s National Team seems to have found a home in Vancouver.
Four years ago, Canada played all six of their World Cup qualifiers at BMO Field in Toronto and drew fewer than 18,000 in attendance for every game. Around the same time period, BC Place drew 22,954 to see Canada play in an Olympic qualifying match in women’s soccer.
Last November, 20,108 people flocked to BC Place to see Canada’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras. Last Friday, 54,798 filled BC Place to set a new Canadian National Team record for Canada’s match against Mexico.
If you add it all up, BC Place saw 844,190 fans come through the gates in the last year for soccer matches.
Canada has one more match remaining in this round of World Cup qualifying, against El Salvador to be played in September. Is there any doubt who should host it?