Local soccer team Phoenix Rising, founded in 2014, could be eyeing a Major League Soccer (MLS) entrance next year. With a new stadium and its first home playoff game under its belt, Phoenix Rising is proving that it is ready for the next step.
The club, originally known as Arizona United Soccer Club, rebranded in 2016 and has experienced nothing but success since then. In fact, according to Phoenix Rising representative José Bosch, the rapid growth of the club can be directly attributed to the new ownership.
“The biggest thing is the new ownership that came in. It was founded as Arizona United from 2014-2016, and then new ownership came in – that was led by Berke Bakay,” Bosch explains. “Local and international owners came in and rebranded, and that change and rebrand has largely contributed to the growth.”
In the first game of the 2017 season – Phoenix Rising’s debut – the team achieved record attendance with 6,890 attendees. In fact, between 2014 and 2018, the average attendance increased by over 165 percent.
Bosch notes that the greater Phoenix area is a perfect location for a professional soccer team due to the demographics and culture. “First, we have really nice weather year-round, so it’s the perfect place to play and watch,” he asserts. “Plus, we have a very large Mexican community here, and soccer is so tied into the culture in Mexico. We also have incredible soccer players that come from the Phoenix area, which help to grow and train the talent.”
The community also helps improve Phoenix Rising’s case for an expansion into the MLS. Bosch highlights the area’s demographics as one of the biggest advantages for the team. “When you look at the key demographics, such as millennials and Hispanics, we are the top in all of those compared to the other markets that are applying for [the MLS],” Bosch notes.
In addition, the greater Phoenix area has the largest television market of all cities outside the MLS, which provides vast opportunities for networks and advertisers. Phoenix is also the only market that doesn’t have a team within 300 miles of it – this would allow the MLS to cover a major hole in its map and stretch to a wider population in the Southwest.
If the MLS chooses the Phoenix Rising as the next major league soccer team, this will provide significant opportunities for businesses in the Valley. Through partnerships and advertisements, companies of all sizes will have the chance to form a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the Phoenix Rising.
With new ownership and the support of local fans, it seems anything is possible for the Rising – with or without an MLS expansion, the team will continue to bolster the community as it has done for the past few years.
Phoenix Rising has won two playoff games and will be going to the United Soccer League Western Conference Final this Saturday, November 3rd.