It’s official: Vancouver Island is the new home of a Canadian Premier League (CPL) team.
The professional team, Pacific FC, is one of the inaugural teams in the league alongside Hamilton, Winnipeg, York, Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary. Last month the club was conditionally approved upon moving the hydro pole on the opposite side of the grandstands at Westhills Stadium, and agreeing to build more seating.
It was a full house at the launch party that took place at the Roundhouse at Bayview in Victoria. A red carpet led up to the Roundhouse where guests mingled, including local politicians and business owners.
A reveal video was shared with guests, showing how the CPL came up with the team name and brand for Pacific FC. Given the Island’s passion for soccer, the team felt it was right to have a professional team close to home. The word Pacific was something that resonated with everyone and the team colours play off of the ocean – lagoon blue, starfish purple and lighthouse white.
The crest is a purple, blue and white slender design with a trident at the bottom.
Fans paraded into the Roundhouse, chanting and cheering for the Vancouver Island team, a preview of the support Pacific FC will feel at home games.
David Clanachan, commissioner of the CPL, thanked Langford Mayor Stew Young for helping get the team to the Island. Young said he is happy that kids on the Island will have local pros to look up to.
Josh Simpson, Victoria native and Pacific FC president, is excited to have a place where soccer players can grow and not have to leave home to play professionally.
“This is one of the best days of my life right now,” Simpson said. “I grew up working hard, as I said before, spending time in Europe as a youngster, trying to take it all in and see what it’s really like, what it takes to be able to make it to that next level. To be able to bring it here, bring it home, and know that my nephews can aspire to play for Pacific FC, it means the world to me.”
Simpson said the club will work with the lower and upper Island soccer associations, University of Victoria, Highlanders and the Whitecaps.
The club announced that “Member #1” of Pacific FC will be all 14-year-olds on the Island in any given season who will automatically become a member of the club. This honours Simpson, who at 14, realized he would have to leave his family in Canada to fulfill his dreams of playing soccer at the highest level. The club will be rolling out details in the coming months but it will mean special access and free tickets.
Westhills Stadium expansion renderings were on display at the event. Rob Friend, Pacific FC executive director, said the club signed the papers right before the launch party to go ahead with the Westhills Stadium expansion to ensure approximately 5,500 seats, plus suites, will be ready for the inaugural season next April. Upon completion of the full expansion, the Stadium will be able to accommodate 12,000 fans, Young said.
Young noted the plans for the expansion are built with soccer and rugby in mind, and seating will be added to the side of the existing grandstands and the ends of the field.
“You feel like you’re in the game when you’re at the stadium and we wanted to keep that,” Young said, noting “You’re going to see a really cool stadium that will be one of the best places to watch any sport in Canada. We’re not taking an old stadium that’s big and far away from the crowd, this is built on top of the action and that’s what everybody likes, 10 feet away from where they’re playing.”
The season starts in eight months, but Young said it will be ready for the spring.
“We’re all under pressure now, but we thrive on pressure in Langford anyway,” he said.