The government of British Columbia will help complete a world-class soccer development centre in Vancouver that will serve to promote sport and physical activity as a foundation for strong families in the province, announced Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

The B.C. government is partnering with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the University of British Columbia (UBC) on construction of the National Soccer Development Centre (NSDC). The centre will feature a state-of-the-art fieldhouse, as well as five new, refurbished or improved soccer fields.

Minister Ida Chong, representing Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett, led a kickoff event for the project today at UBC, attended by local elementary students, minor soccer players, and members of both Whitecaps FC and Canada’s national soccer teams.

The B.C. government will contribute up to $14.5 million. The centre will be a significant community asset, with more than 50 per cent of field time devoted to community use. In addition, the facility will be a key physical asset to support BC Soccer and the ongoing development of players, coaches, and referees.

Located at UBC’s Thunderbird Park, the NSDC will also be the focal point for Whitecaps FC’s community programs that reach more than 30,000 community players annually – about 30 per cent of the youth players registered in B.C. The partnership will also create important recreational and high-performance sport legacies.

In addition to accommodating youth soccer players, the centre will be the home of Whitecaps FC men’s, women’s and residency teams, and UBC’s soccer teams, as well as serving as the west coast base for Canada’s men’s, women’s, and youth national teams.

Furthermore, the NSDC will help Vancouver attract and host major sporting events – including the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a Major League Soccer all-star game, and major international friendlies – as well as the associated business opportunities that come with providing a world-class training facility for visiting athletes and teams.

Construction, refurbishment and improvement of the five fields – three grass and two artificial turf – as well as the new fieldhouse at UBC, combined with the two artificial turf fields built at Simon Fraser University by Whitecaps FC, will complete the historic project that is projected to cost $32.5 million. In total, Whitecaps FC are providing $15 million, while UBC will provide the land. As part of the agreement, Whitecaps FC may also request up to a further $3 million from the Province in 10 years for artificial turf resurfacing.

The project will create more than 170 direct jobs and 90 indirect jobs during the construction phase. Whitecaps FC will officially move to the club’s new training grounds in spring 2013 when the first phase of the project is expected to be completed. This first phase will include a refurbished grass field and locker room access for Whitecaps FC. The balance of the project will be completed in advance of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.