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Hometown Heroes Now Have a Hometown Owner

Vancouver, BC: The Vancouver 86ers Soccer Club has been acquired by Starlight Sports & Entertainment, headed by Vancouver businessman David Stadnyk. Stadnyk, a financier and long-time sports enthusiast, negotiated the purchase of the club from former owner David Braley of Hamilton, Ontario. Terms of the sale have not officially been released. Starlight, under Stadnyk, also owns the Vancouver Angels women's soccer team which recently completed its inaugural season.

"Today is a good day for soccer in Vancouver," remarked 86ers and BC Lions President Glen Ringdal, who represented Braley at Thursday's press conference. "David Braley was committed to finding a solid local owner who had a passion for the game of soccer in particular, and for sports in general, and he was pleased to find someone of David Stadnyk's level of commitment."

Stadnyk had nothing but praise for his predecessors, saying, "we are very pleased and proud to be following in the footsteps of 86ers owners such as David Braley and Milan Ilich. Without their commitment to the team in the past, we wouldn't be in the position where we are today."

Though final approval of the transfer from the league office is still pending, A-League Associate Commissioner Dave Askinas did say, "we welcome David Stadnyk and Starlight Sports & Entertainment to the A-League, and we hope they help us take men's soccer to the next level in Vancouver." Askinas also remarked, "we were proud to have someone of David Braley's stature as an A-League franchise owner, but we're also quick to understand the value of Vancouver-based ownership for our Vancouver-based franchise."

While Stadnyk has promised to be more of a hands-on owner in his plans to take the club to the next level, there are no major changes anticipated until after the end of this season. For the next month at least, the team will carry on with business as usual, and will continue to share offices and staff with Braley's BC Lions. Stadnyk has also given a vote of confidence to 86ers GM Bob Lenarduzzi, saying "Bob Lenarduzzi is an icon for soccer in British Columbia and across Canada, and he should feel very welcome in the Starlight family." Stadnyk said Lenarduzzi will be relied upon to develop Starlight's future plans for the club.

"I'm impressed with the vision that he [Stadnyk] has put forward," said Lenarduzzi in reply, "and I'm looking forward to getting on with the task at hand." Lenarduzzi also stressed that the focus of the 86ers is on this season and the playoff drive.

The 86ers host the El Paso Patriots Friday night, 7:30pm at Swangard Stadium, preceded at 4:30pm by the SFU and UBC men's teams in the annual Raisio Cup.

The Vancouver 86ers were founded in 1986 as a community-owned team under the banner of the West Coast Soccer Society, spearheaded by Tony Waiters and Les Wilson. In 1989, the cash-strapped franchise was purchased by Richmond's Milan Ilich who operated the team under comparatively small but steady losses until he finally set about selling it in 1997. David Braley, owner of the BC Lions, generously came to the rescue of the 86ers when all hope of finding a new owner had seemed lost, and purchased it debt-free from Ilich for $1.

Alan Douglas
Communications Manager
Vancouver 86ers Soccer Club
Tel: (604) 930-5481 Fax: (604) 583-7882

Many Thanks to News Digger John Zukas who scours up all of the local news links during the year.