I am new to the Arizona football community. I have been a closet fan for many years, but with the “rise” of our local professional team, I have again fallen in love with the sport that so enriched my childhood. I am not a professional journalist by trade. I don’t even qualify as an amateur journalist at this point. I am, in fact, a Certified Public Accountant. I appreciate the Firebird Rising team for accepting me into the group, and I hope to be your voice as a ‘citizen journalist’, as I share my love of both photography and football.
Today I took a trip out to Mesa Community College’s John D. Riggs Stadium to have my first experience at an FC Arizona game. I had been considering it for a while, but several of the games conflicted with other events. FC Arizona is a member of the National Premier Soccer League, which is an elite adult league of 96 amateur and semi-pro teams across the United States. Tonight’s game was a friendly against the Albuquerque Sol, a member of the Premier Development League.
Parking & Entering
The stadium parking lot, located on the south side of Southern Road between Dobson and Alma School Roads, was easily located and parking ingress was quick. Enter the stadium from the northern entrance, where you pay for your ticket at a folding table. Tickets are $5 for children and $12 for adults, with season tickets available.
Entering the stadium is a very nostalgic experience. I was a band geek in high school (and college) and Riggs Stadium was the home of the State Marching Band Championships. The stadium holds several thousand, and this weeknight friendly drew a few hundred loyal fans, and a hundred or so opposing spectators. Seating was plentiful, and sightlines are only interrupted by the lighting standards.
FC Arizona has a supporters group named ‘Rampants Supporters.’ With the motto “Respect All, Fear None,” this small group sits at the north end of the stadium, and had plentiful drums and horns blowing.
This gameday, FC Arizona had concessions consisting of America’s favorite foods: pizza and ice cream. The pizza vendor had a variety of pre-made pizzas, as well as cheesy bread for purchase. On the south end of the stadium, sports fans could find Sub Zero Ice Cream, a novelty concept where custom ice cream is made before your eyes using liquid nitrogen. (Full disclosure: I am friends with the owners of Sub Zero Ice Cream’s Arizona franchise)
I will say that I prefer FC Arizona’s logo to that of Phoenix Rising. It has a much more traditional football feel. T-shirts come in two styles in sizes from S-XL. Sweatshirts are available (but why?), as are jerseys and polos. Jerseys are Adidas branded and look sharp. I picked up an XL jersey, which fits well, though I normally wear M or L, as well as a small shirt for my son. Out the door price was a very reasonable $75.
In such a small stadium atmosphere, I was struck by the clarity with which I could hear the voices from the field. Both teams were very vocal, and attendance at a game should be mandatory for any young player learning The Beautiful Game. The teams play quickly, moving the ball up and down the field with speed. Passing is what you’d expect… Certainly not as crisp as it is when watching teams who play on television. The footwork, however, is impressive. It is easy to imagine these young players honing their skills on the practice pitch, working on step-overs and maradonas, and when they are able to employ these skills, it is exciting.
Due to obligations at home, I was unable to stay for the entire game, and left while the Sol were up on FC Arizona 1-0. Sol eventually took home a 2-0 win. The next home game for the currently undefeated, first-placed FC Arizona team will be Saturday May 27 at 7:00 PM at Riggs Stadium. I look forward to following the team, as they continue to add to the growing culture of professional-level football in the State of Arizona.