We in the Phoenix area have known for years what it takes to get the attention of Major League Soccer, and likewise, we knew that we didn’t have it. Until now, it seems.
Phoenix Rising FC announced this afternoon that it has been invited by MLS to submit an application for the current round of expansion. Multiple high-profile bids have been covered in breathtaking detail over the past months, ranging from Saint Louis as a frontrunner to hallucinations of hope in Nashville and elsewhere. Why does Phoenix have a shot? I’ll tell you.
- This is the 12th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Saturated in sports though it may be, this town is big and getting bigger, and that spells M-O-N-E-Y to MLS and everyone who holds a financial stake in it.
- The club has committed, local ownership, as well as celebrity investors who, if they don’t have MLS-sized wallets today, could probably find some.
- An expandable stadium site has been secured.
Why doesn’t Phoenix have a shot? Well, that’s much easier.
- Sacramento’s bid is turnkey, watertight, and ready for prime time.
- There are bids on the MLS boardroom table right now from people with the money to build an appropriately-sized venue in short order.
- Cincinnati draws lots, and lots, and lots of people to its USL games, attracting a public visit from MLS commissioner Don Garber, and that’s where I’ll stop.
Could MLS work here? Definitely. Do I have faith that the current ownership group has the chops to put together all the pieces to get it there. Yes. Is Phoenix one of the next four markets in? Nope. But, today’s news is an excellent first step, and should MLS expand to 32 teams, all bets are off.
If you live in the Valley or nearby, get on the phone with Phoenix Rising and buy some tickets for this season. You never know.