British Columbia

Whitecaps unveil final phase of $32.5-million training facility

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC unveiled the final phase of their new $32.5-million training facility at UBC on Wednesday.

State-of-the-art centre is a 'game changer' for recruitment and training, says Whitecaps president

The National Soccer Development Centre features a three-storey, 38,000-square-foot fieldhouse at UBC. (Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps)

Starting Wednesday, Vancouver Whitecaps players will lift weights in a two-storey gym with glass windows and a fully-mirrored wall — while enjoying a panoramic view of the mountains.

They'll have access to a kitchen with custom nutritional options for each player. And if players have an aching joint, they can hop over to the sports science wing for some aquatic therapy.

Those were just some of the eye-catching features unveiled at the team's new fieldhouse at UBC. 

The new Whitecaps gym offers views of the field and mountains. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

The 38,000-square-foot, three-level facility is a big upgrade for a team that's spent 47 years in Vancouver without a place to call home.

"It's been a long time coming," Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said on CBC's The Early Edition.

'We virtually have everything you'd need'

The state-of-the-art fieldhouse will house Whitecaps' men and residency teams and UBC's soccer teams.

It will also serve as the western base for Canada's men's, women's and youth national teams. More than 50 per cent of field time will be dedicated to community soccer use. 

The UBC facility features three grass fields and two artificial turf fields. It's also undergoing LEED Gold Certification — a top marker for sustainable design.

"We have virtually everything you'd need to operate as a fully functioning club," Lenarduzzi said.

The UBC facility is the third and final phase of the $32.5-million National Soccer Development Centre. 

The first phase was another space at Simon Fraser University, which offers two artificial fields for up-and-coming female players.

UBC's Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre served as a temporary training site during the second phase. 

'Game changer' 

Getting to moving day took longer than Lenarduzzi would have liked.

He said plans began in 2003 for a dedicated facility, but deals fell through in New Westminster, Delta and Burnaby.

The club announced the new facility at UBC in Sept. 2012. The province offered up to $14.5 million and the Whitecaps forked out $15 million. UBC donated land valued at $3 million.

The centre will be a "game changer" for recruitment and training, Lenarduzzi said. 

"If I was a player waking up in the morning and getting ready to go training, I would just be so looking forward to walking in the doors of the facility."

Players train at the new National Soccer Development Centre at UBC. (Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps)

With files from The Early Edition