The Vancouver Whitecaps are in Langford this week to kick off the Concacaf Champions Cup, so what better way to take in the familiar turf than by sporting a new, temporary name.
The club announced Monday, Feb. 5, that for the next three days, it will unofficially change its name to Vancouver Island Whitecaps, all with the goal of embracing the local community.
“This club belongs to the community, so we are pleased to do this small gesture to show our appreciation for the warm welcome that we have been receiving,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC chief executive officer, in a news release.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Whitecaps will be in Langford on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to play against the Mexican side Tigres UANL at Langford’s Starlight Stadium — a ferry ride away from the club’s usual stomping grounds at BC Place in Vancouver.
The BC Home and Garden Show is scheduled from Feb. 8-11 at BC Place, so, in December, the Whitecaps announced they’d be coming to the Island before heading to San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico, where the team will face off again against the Tigres on Feb. 14.
“As we enter our 50th Anniversary season, it’s fitting that we play a match on Vancouver Island, a community that has passionately supported this club since the beginning,” said Schuster, who’s encouraging fans to get their tickets ahead of time.
The ‘Caps previously played at Starlight in May 2023.
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— Vancouver 𝙄𝙨𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙 Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) February 5, 2024
According to the club, more than 90 percent of seats for the match in Langford had already been sold as of Monday. Remaining tickets can be purchased online, while limited-edition Vancouver Island Whitecaps merchandise will be sold at Starlight on Feb. 7.
Schuster said the club had “explored all possibilities, as well as venue options across British Columbia.” Ultimately, Starlight was the only sole Concacaf-approved venue.
“The opportunity to host such a significant match between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Mexican club Tigres builds on the momentum of previous international sports matches played in Langford over the past few years,” said Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson.
The upcoming game marks the Whitecaps’ third time playing against the Tigres and fourth time playing for the Concacaf regional title, having previously qualified in 2015-16, 2016-17 and last season, when they fell to MLS rivals Los Angeles FC in the quarterfinals.
“The timing of the game leads up to Pacific FC’s season, which starts up again in April. Passionate soccer fans will be eager to get back to Starlight and welcome the teams to Langford,” added Goodmanson last December.
The ‘Caps will be back on B.C.’s mainland next month.
“With the MLS regular season fast approaching, Vancouver Island fans will also have five 4:30 p.m. PT kickoffs to look forward to at BC Place this season,” reads the release.
“The season opener on Saturday, March 2 versus Charlotte FC will have the upper bowl open, more than 25,000 tickets already sold, and will be one of the five afternoon kicks.”
Find more information here.
-with files from CHEK’s Laura Brougham