Thursday April 14, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 1 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
FIFA has confirmed Vancouver as a candidate host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026. That would be welcome news in Langford here on Vancouver Island, where the interest in soccer has been surging ever since the Pacific FC team launched its first season in 2019 at what is now known as Starlight Stadium.
Being a big sports fan and the driving force behind the now-expanding Starlight Stadium and even more broadly making Langford into a national sports capital, Langford Mayor Stew Young is pleased about the FIFA announcement today.
Especially as he says some side games would likely happen at Starlight Stadium in Langford during the FIFA World Cup phase in Vancouver.
“Side games are likely,” Stew Young said today. “Especially once we’ve doubled the seats,” he added excitedly.
This week it was announced that Starlight Stadium seating would be expanded from its present count of about 5,400 up to 10,000. Langford City Council recently approved over $8 million to make that happen by next year. The stadium is home to not only the Pacific FC soccer team (which has its purple and white PFC colours on the present seating), but also to Canada’s national rugby teams.
The seat expansion had been hoped for by Langford long before now, but a 138 KV BC Hydro transmission line has been standing in the way of that. That major line provides electrical feed to the entire western communities region, according to BC Hydro.
For many years Mayor Young has been after the BC Government and BC Hydro to help facilitate relocation of “the pole” as it has become affectionately known in town.
Seating has not been allowed under that transmission line, for safety reasons. The angst around this has been ongoing for Young and the sports interests of Langford for several years. It has meant turning down some bigger events, including concerts, where the number of people in seats is a key determining factor of financial viability for visiting performers and their organizers.
Getting that relocation of the transmission line done (from one side of the street to the other) will enable construction of more seating on the Starlight Stadium field which presently lies directly below it. About $4 million of the funds the city will be paying is for relocating that pole and the transmission lines that it supports.
Stadium expansion will rely on additional available parking in the area courtesy of local businesses but also the parking lot that will be available starting this fall at the nearby new schools on Constellation Avenue in Langford’s Westhills area.
The City of Langford (which owns Starlight Stadium) works cooperatively with the local SD62 school district about sharing of facilities. The City has installed sports fields into school land at a few schools, and years ago prepared Goudy Field near Belmont Secondary School for school and community use.
Langford hosted women’s soccer:
On Monday of this week, the Canada Women’s Soccer team played against Nigeria’s women’s soccer team at a stadium-packed game in Langford.
“They will be excited to come back,” Stew Young told Island Social Trends today. “They loved the facility.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a splash appearance with the women’s team earlier in the day, ahead of the game, including a jovial moment with Canada Women’s Soccer Coach Christine Sinclair.
BC tourism will get a boost:
Vancouver now joins Edmonton and Toronto as potential Canadian hosts. Vancouver is officially classified as a “Candidate Host City” in the competition amongst Canadian, American, and Mexican cities to host the joint three-nation 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The BC Government is pleased about FIFA’s announcement today. Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, has issued the following statement:
“I am encouraged that FIFA has confirmed Vancouver, British Columbia, as a candidate host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The FIFA World Cup is the largest single sporting event in the world. Hosting the event would be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for soccer fans, for our tourism sector and for all British Columbians. Last year, Canada Soccer’s women’s national team won a gold medal in Tokyo, last month our men’s national team qualified for a place at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, a first since 1986 and, last week, world-champion Christine Sinclair took centre stage at the Celebration Tour, which was the biggest event at BC Place Stadium since the pandemic began. The stars are aligning for Canada Soccer, British Columbia and Vancouver. It’s time we showcase beautiful B.C. once again.
“We appreciate the opportunity to become a candidate host city and have worked hard with our partners to get to this first step. We want to recognize our partners, including the City of Vancouver, YVR, PavCo, Destination Vancouver and Destination BC, as well as the host First Nations. Partnerships are critical to hosting events of this magnitude and by working together we have been able to put our collective best foot forward for this bid. Our goal is, and always will be, to deliver the games in a way that maximizes benefits of this event for all British Columbians.
“B.C. and the rest of the world has been hit hard by the pandemic. The Premier has given me a mandate to support tourism and sport through recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026 would serve as a beacon for B.C.’s tourism industry, as it recovers from an incredibly challenging two years.
“More than 3.5 billion people watch the World Cup every four years. Becoming a host city and putting the global spotlight on B.C. would, once again, inspire travellers from around the world to come, stay and play. We have a world-class stadium, excellent training facilities and established infrastructure that meets FIFA hosting requirements, all of which make Vancouver particularly well equipped to host the event.
“Destination BC and BC Stats estimated hosting would bring in more than $1 billion in new revenue for B.C.’s tourism sector during and in the five years that follow the event, and there are tremendous benefits for individuals and communities alike. We expect this event to be a magnet for visitors to support local business in beautiful British Columbia.
“Major sporting events like this one have the power to inspire people to play, get involved and shine from the playground to the podium. These are gains that will echo in our families and neighbourhoods for the next generation and beyond.
“We have given it our best shot. We look forward to FIFA announcing the host cities in the coming weeks and are hopeful that Vancouver will be selected.”
Pacific FC scores a win in home-game season opener (April 10, 2022)
New Coast Salish Pacific FC jersey for 2022 season (April 10, 2022)
New head coach James Merriman gears up for 2022 season (April 10, 2022)
Canada vs Trinidad-Tobago soccer game coming to Westhills Stadium March 27 (February 14, 2020)
Inaugural Pacific FC game: Langford becomes a soccer town (April 29, 2019)
Purple and white installed at Westhills Stadium (April 24, 2019)
Construction of new bleachers underway at Westhills Stadium (January 31, 2019)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering news of the west shore since 2008, with a view to lifestyle and economy on south Vancouver Island. She’s been covering the Pacific FC team (of the Canadian Premier League) since mid-2018 as they prepared for their inaugural year in 2019.
Her publication was first called MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then morphed into the print weekly Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), then into the weekly print and PDF format West Shore Voice News (2014-2020) before emerging as a full online news portal as Island Social Trends in mid-2020.
Island Social Trends offers a journalism scholarship to graduating students in the west shore.