Phoenix Rising Football Club officially submitted its expansion application bid to Major League Soccer today. Phoenix is one of 12 markets with groups that have also submitted expansion application bids to Major League Soccer (MLS). The deadline for submitting a bid was today.
After reviewing expansion applications and meeting with each ownership group, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:
- Two new expansion teams before the end of 2017. Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.
- Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided later this year.
„Phoenix, Arizona is ready for Major League Soccer and we’re excited to officially submit our bid today,“ said Phoenix Rising FC governor Berke Bakay. „Phoenix is the largest expansion market in the United States. We offer MLS the largest population of Millennial and Hispanic soccer fans, and the most TV households. Phoenix is also the only expansion market without an existing MLS team within 300 miles. It’s time for the MLS to come to the southwest and rise with our fans in Phoenix.“
Overall, ownership groups from 12 different cities also publicly submitted bids by the January 31, 2017, deadline: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa. But, Phoenix is statistically at the top in nearly every measure.
Phoenix Rising FC’s bid included letters of support from more than 45 political and business leaders from the Phoenix area and an impressive plan to privately fund and build a new, climate-controlled, soccer-specific MLS stadium on the 45 acre site recently put under contract by the Club with the Solanna Group, a real estate development company within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Phoenix Rising FC’s proposed climate-controlled, soccer specific stadium will be the centerpiece of a larger soccer complex and mixed use development that will accommodate the Phoenix Rising FC soccer academy and community soccer events, and will include light rail access for fans throughout the Valley. The HOK designed stadium envisions ETFE pillows as a transparent roof material, a light-weight material that is about 1% the weight of an alternative/typical material. There is also the opportunity to include photovoltaic panels in the skin to extract and store energy to use for lighting, cooling, etc.
MLS has considered Phoenix to be an attractive soccer market since its beginnings. In fact, MLS executives visited Phoenix and toured potential stadium sites 13 years ago, including the site recently secured by Phoenix Rising FC within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in south Scottsdale.
„Major League Soccer began with 10 clubs back in 1996, and we now have 12 markets vying to secure a team in our next round of expansion,“ MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. „That’s a strong statement about the League and the growth of the sport in the United States and Canada. We would like to thank all of the groups for submitting their expansion applications, and we have been encouraged by the support from government officials, corporate leaders and fan enthusiasm in each market. We look forward to reviewing the applications and meeting with the ownership groups in the coming months.“
Phoenix Rising FC governor Berke Bakay led a group of investors comprised of experienced CEOs, private equity financiers, successful entrepreneurs, real estate experts, surgeons and global leaders in the entertainment industry that purchased the Arizona United Soccer Club in August of 2016. The group quickly re-branded the team as Phoenix Rising FC, negotiated a long-term land lease at the northwest corner of the 101 and 202 freeway in south Scottsdale, began construction of a new, soccer-specific stadium and training facility, and empowered its Head Coach and President of Soccer Operations, two-time ‚MLS Coach of the Year,‘ Frank Yallop, to invest in a roster of professional soccer players from around the world.
Phoenix Rising FC will play its 2017 season in the United Soccer League (USL), which was recently awarded Division 2 status by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Its first home match is scheduled for Saturday March 25 at 7:30pm against Toronto FC II.
(Phoenix Rising FC Press Release)