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Phx Rising Makes Case for MLS Expansion

A rendering of the potential permanent MLS stadium for Phoenix Rising FC. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)

By Ryan Clarke for Cronkite News

In a dirt lot, trucks whir and beep, their sounds filling gaps in the sound of passing traffic. Construction is underway on a temporary soccer stadium for Phoenix Rising FC.

The owners of the team hope that someday the sound is replaced with the roar of thousands of fans supporting a Major League Soccer franchise. They believe they have laid the groundwork — literally and figuratively — to achieve that goal.

Phoenix Rising, a Division II team in the United Soccer League, submitted its bid at the end of January to join MLS as an expansion franchise in the 2020 season.

Two of the four cities that will be awarded expansion teams are expected to be announced by the fall.

Co-owner and board member Tim Riester said he and his team had a short window to complete their application because they were a last-minute addition to the list of applicants, which includes 11 other cities.

Riester and his team submitted the application before the Jan. 31 deadline, including the full overview of their pitch. The three most important factors for selection, according to Riester, are financial security, a stadium plan and strong fan support.

Phoenix Rising’s temporary stadium is under construction in a noisy dirt lot off McClintock Drive and the Loop 101 in Tempe. The club secured 45 acres of land with the help of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and is using 16 of those acres for the temporary “pop-up” stadium.

Riester said the same people in charge of setting up the stands for the Waste Management Phoenix Open are putting the stadium together.

“Imagine that beautiful Par-3 with a FIFA qualified soccer pitch in the middle instead,” Riester said. “That’s what fans are going to see on March 25 and for the next few years.”

The club’s goal is to replace the temporary stadium with a permanent home on the same property by 2020, fit with a climate-controlled stadium, surrounding fields and light rail access. Phoenix Rising has yet to disclose the cost of the potential stadium but has stated that public funds won’t be necessary.

“As soon as MLS gives us the green light for an expansion franchise, we’ll break ground on a much larger stadium to meet their requirements,” Riester said. “We’re ready to go.”

Read more at Cronkite News.

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