Soccer over the ocean

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Vancouver Whitecaps could be playing soccer on the sea in 2010.

A Jan. 16 Vancouver city hall staff report shows the stadium's proposed site extending over the SeaBus terminal and into Coal Harbour, parallel with Canada Place. A sliver of land next to Helijet's chopper landing pads falls within the site's boundaries.

The original plan was to build the 15,000-seat stadium 10-metres above railroad tracks behind Waterfront Station and Gastown.

How much this will cost media-shy club owner Greg Kerfoot is unknown. Whitecaps and Vancouver Port Authority reached an agreement in principle on the alternative location, but many outstanding details remain.

"Our thrust has been making sure that we can conclude the discussion with the Port," said Whitecaps' director of soccer operations Bob Lenarduzzi. "In terms of the actual design and height of [the] building, we haven't got to those yet."

"We're excited about it," said VPA vice-president of infrastructure development Jim Cox. "But no work has been done on it yet other than to sort of think about it."

City council will hear more about the proposal on Feb. 1. If rezoning begins this summer, the stadium could open as a sponsorship or cultural venue during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

City council granted unanimous, but conditional, approval on July 11, 2006. The new report said city hall would have to determine whether the alternative site solves or lessens transportation, livability and cargo safety issues. Staff branded the new concept "very promising."

Lenarduzzi said Kerfoot has no plans to build anything "for the foreseeable future" above tracks between Cambie and Main Streets. 


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