Sometimes we feel like we’re constantly criticising the Caps here at AFTN. We don’t mean for it to be that way, but they’re not giving us a lot to work with at the moment!
Last week we were pretty scathing about the lack of marketing in the build up to the opening game. So, credit where credit’s due, things look like they’re about to change in pretty dramatic fashion.
The Whitecaps are going to launch a Countdown ‘Til Kickoff campaign on Thursday February 17th.
It’s part of a huge marketing blitz planned for the 30 days countdown to MLS. We’re promised that “every day leading up to our first match we’ll celebrate the beautiful game with events, stunts and celebrity videos”.
Better late than never and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating and all that, but it sounds fantastic. We want the whole city to be talking about the Whitecaps. The team, the players and the fans.
Judging by the Sedin on the front page of the website, we can expect a lot of the football loving Canucks players to make statements of how much they love the Caps and are looking forward to watching them this season. Some will criticise that, but in this hockey mad city, that’s sadly some of the best endorsements you can have to get people to take notice. They’re respected and many of them are genuine football fans.
When it comes to events, there will hopefully be a number of player meet and greets and we’re just crying out for some kind of open day at Empire. Even if it’s the day after the TFC opener if they don’t want to dampen the mystique of Empire. Please do this. Just for us!
Stunts-wise, we’d love to see something projected on to the sails at Canada Place. Maybe drape a huge banner from the Harbour Centre Tower. A flashmob of fans taking over Granville Street chanting and singing. Jay DeMerit ziplining through the downtown core. Wes Knight firing his trademark long throws off the Lions Gate bridge, Capilano suspension bridge and down Grouse Mountain. Joe Cannon being fired out of a cannon…
We’d also just settle for a couple of proven strikers joining the team!
It’s been in the rumour mill for weeks now, but yesterday Major League Soccer officially announced a new, six year Canadian broadcast rights agreement with TSN. 24 regular season MLS games will be broadcast live this year on TSN and TSN2 – all involving at either Vancouver Whitecaps or Toronto – and this will increase to 30 next year when Montreal Impact enter the mix.
The Caps will feature 12 times, with 9 games on the main channel and a further 3 on TSN2. Both the all-Canadian match ups between the Caps and TFC will be broadcast and all games will be in High Definition.
Two big games, New York in May and Seattle in June, will be shown on TSN2. Most likely because they fall bang in the middle of the hockey playoffs, but with some providers not carrying the channel, this may piss off some.
On the whole though, it’s great stuff. This deal, along with the Team 1040/1410 radio deal announced last week, will give the Whitecaps a fantastic media presence and exposure both in the lower mainland and throughout Canada.
There’s still a deal for regional broadcast rights to be announced, which should see the other 22 regular season games broadcast in Vancouver and possibly other parts of Western Canada. CTV are the rumoured favourites right now, but AFTN feels that we may see these games spread out to a couple of broadcasters.
The television and radio deals throw up the questions as to who will be doing the commentating. There is a strong campaign amongst Caps fans right now to ensure Peter Schaad is doing the play by play commentary on the radio. Anyone but him would be criminal.
As for the TV, we just want some decent people both in the studio and commentating. TSN do have one huge advantage over what we’ve been used to. They don’t have Nigel Fucking Reed. At least they better not have! That will at least save me smashing my television screen several times over the course of the season. Worst football pundit and commentator EVER.
There’s a few things we’d like to see covered as part of the radio and TV deals and we’ll be looking at that in more detail in our Metro column on Friday.
Don Garber was in Vancouver yesterday doing the media rounds and talking to the Board of Trade.
He was very complimentary about a number of the Whitecaps off-field activities in the build up to our inaugural MLS season.
“They matter here in this community, they matter in Canada and they’re going to matter throughout the United States.” was Garber’s verdict of the Caps. He went on to praise the sponsorship deals that the Whitecaps have lined up with the likes of Bell and EA Sports. “It’s a sponsorship that any pro league would be proud of, whether it’s here or in European football”. The Bell deal in particular is thought to be the biggest ever in MLS.
Facing the media throng, we’d asked some journalists to ask Garber some tough questions and hoped they’d grill him on ticketing issues, away fan travel and supporters culture. From what we’ve seen and heard so far, he got an easy ride.
We can only hope that this fawning doesn’t continue the way it appears it does with the Canucks in the city. What Vancouver needs is journalists not only asking the tough questions that fans want, but also getting the answers too. Will we get this? Maybe not this coming season, but hopefully in the future. That seems to be the way it’s going in Seattle now and it’s how it should be done.
Finally, bad news if you love to abuse.
The players we can’t wait to abuse are falling like flies!
First Bright Dike had an achilles problem, as we reported last week, then Steve Cronin broke his wrist and now, this very morning, Canadian traitor Teal Bunbury has been taken to hospital with what is thought to be a dislocated shoulder.
Does some long term Caps fan have a voodoo doll going out there?
At least we still have Beckham. Or will we….