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Whitecaps pen open letter to New West residents

New Westminster director of parks, culture and recreation Dean Gibson and Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi celebrate the announcement of a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations to work toward having a development team play in Queen
New Westminster director of parks, culture and recreation Dean Gibson and Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi celebrate the announcement of a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations to work toward having a development team play in Queen's Park Stadium in 2015.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader file photo

In the wake of opponents to their plans lining up to tell city council this week the Vancouver Whitecaps responded with an open letter to New Westminster residents Thursday.

The Whitecaps and the city agreed in early July to work toward bringing a United Soccer League franchise to Queen's Park Stadium. It would be a development squad of mostly up-and-coming young players for the Major League Soccer team.

But to make it happen, the city has to give its approval to renovating the stadium, adding thousands of seats and finding a new place for a full-sized baseball diamond in New West. City council is worried the timeline to work out the details by Sept. 15 is too tight.

The open letter, signed by president Bob Lenarduzzi and chief operating officer Rachel Lewis, said the Whitecaps are committed to making sure the stadium "is a crown jewel for the Royal City." It pointed out a refurbished facility would have multi-uses and be used by the community year round, not just for the 14 games the USL team would play there.

The letter claimed a team based in New West would provide jobs, services and more business for local establishments. It would also be a place for the Whitecaps to hold camps, soccer clinics and other community youth initiatives.

The letter also acknowledge minor baseball's concerns.

"We know there's a long tradition of baseball in New Westminster. That's why they were one of the first groups our club and the City of New Westminster reached out to as part of this process. Through our conversations with the city, we are confident in their commitment to accommodate baseball's needs. There is room in New Westminster for all sports to thrive," said Lendarduzzi and Lewis.

"We believe bringing a USL PRO team to the city would benefit all residents in the long run. Not only would the team bring some of the Whitecaps FC's top young players to your doorstep and play a massive part in our efforts to grow the sport, it would also create jobs, attract significant business, and offer affordable, family-friendly entertainment for the entire community to enjoy."

Shortly after releasing the letter Thursday on Twitter the link to the letter was retweeted many times.

The Whitecaps invited supporters as well as those with questions to give their feedback by emailing explore_whitecaps@newwestcity.ca and copying it to communications@whitecapsfc.com.

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