Phoenix Rising atmosphere delivers big in Week 1; club to review parking

Credit: Chad Smith; PRFC Supporters Section
Credit: Chad Smith; PRFC Supporters Section

The opening weekend of the United Soccer League has come and gone. Along with it came the debut of the re-branded Phoenix Rising FC (formerly Arizona United). The Valley of the Sun has been buzzing, leading up to the first game in the East Valley in the club’s new soccer stadium.

The team announced a television deal leading up to the game. Commercials were playing on the radio and television. I even heard random people talking about second division soccer. Finally the time had come for the first game of the year.

Unfortunately, there were significant traffic delays on McClintock Drive and within the stadium complex, and many fans missed some of the game as a result. I personally waited about an hour and a half in the car with my wife and young daughter.

That frustration evaporated when we got out of the car.

The stadium was electric. The supporters section was chanting, the crowd was into the game, and the stadium and pitch looked beautiful. The fact that they pulled off building a “pop-up” stadium in 53 days is quite a feat. Every day as I passed the stadium site it didn’t seem like it was going to get done. Then in the last two weeks it all seemed to come together.

My personal experience may be one of the worst, but parking and traffic affected many fans. The team has vowed to do something about it by the time there is another home game on April 8th. In a statement released by the club, Club Governor Berke Bakay stated:

“The front office is aware of the issues that fans experienced with parking on Saturday night and has already begun a full review on how we can make it better. It frustrated us as much as it did for many of you, when we had to begin the match before all of our fans were in the stadium. We are currently reviewing ingress/egress to make access more efficient and hope to unveil a new parking plan in time for our next home match.”

That’s a bit vague, but I understand the desire to get this right and to only announce a solution once it’s been reached. The stadium was beyond a sellout, with an additional 600-plus standing room-only tickets being sold. This team has already been more successful than anyone could have probably imagined.

For myself and my family, we are die-hard fans, and will tolerate more than the average person. I wonder if others will be as tolerant. These things are to be expected and I personally believe most people will look past it as long as it’s addressed, which the team has vowed to do.

Also, if the rumors are true, people will be coming out in droves to watch Didier Drogba. PRFC isn’t going to spend that kind of money without handling this issue.