Caps may have high-profile friendly this summer

BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:36 PM ET

VANCOUVER - A professional sporting event will be played on natural grass at Empire Field for the first time in 42 years if the Vancouver Whitecaps secure a major European club for a summertime friendly.

“We're actually really close,” Whitecaps co-owner Jeff Mallett said Saturday. “Hopefully we're going to be able to announce it next week, but we still don't have a signed paper yet.”

Mallett said the “club we're talking to is one of the big ones” which demands to play on natural grass. Tartan Turf replaced grass at the original Empire Stadium in 1970. The Whitecaps play on an AstroTurf synthetic surface at the temporary Empire Field setup. Sod would be trucked in for the the exhibition.

In a February interview, Whitecaps chief executive Paul Barber would not deny he was negotiating with Tottenham Hotspur. Barber is the former executive director of the London-based English Premier League club, which visits the San Jose Earthquakes on July 17 and New York Red Bulls on July 23.

“Our preseason program has yet to be finalized,” Tottenham spokesman Richard Hubbard told QMI.

The Whitecaps are 1-1-1 in Major League Soccer after Saturday’s 3-3 comeback draw with Sporting Kansas City. Brazilian striker Camilo Sanvezzo scored consecutive injury time goals to delight the 20,518 fans and stun Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, whose shutout was dashed in the 72nd minute by Atiba Harris. Hamilton-born Teal Bunbury scored a pair for K.C.

The New England Revolution visits Empire on Wednesday. Game starts at 7 p.m.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca


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