Travel Guide – Phoenix Rising v. San Francisco Deltas

Aaron Blau
Aaron Blau

Phoenix Rising welcomes the San Francisco Deltas (NASL) on May 31 at 7:30 PM to the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in the 3rd round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.  The Deltas were originally chosen to host, but due to the unavailability of their stadium, hosting duties were given to Rising FC.  This home match gives the Firebirds a valuable home field advantage, and allows them to play on their own pitch during a long regular-season road stint.

In a past life, I served as a hotel concierge, and I have an innate desire to be a great host (though I have no promises for what may happen during 90 minutes of game play).  Here are a few hints, tips and tricks for fans following the SF Deltas to south Scottsdale.

Airport

Deltas fans will find “America’s Friendliest Airport” in Phoenix Sky Harbor.  Catch a non-stop flight on major carriers American, United and Southwest Airlines.  Midweek flights start around $382 round trip (Wednesday – Sunday).  Catch a great mid-day lunch and sample of Phoenix’s best food on the 2nd floor of Terminal 4.  Whether its Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, Joe’s Real BBQ, or Matt’s Big Breakfast (as seen on TV!), the food options at Sky Harbor are a microcosm of the Phoenix area.

Transportation

If you are only coming in for the game, you do not need a rental car.  Simply look for signs for the Sky Harbor SkyTrain and take it to the Valley Metro Rail PHX Sky Train Station.  The Sky Train moves between the terminals, economy lot, and finally to the Light Rail Station at 44th Street & Washington.  Board the Light Rail ($4 for an all-day pass) and take a ride to the Mill Ave/3rd Street Stop.

College Town – Welcome to Tempe

Mill Avenue is the social hub of Arizona State University, one of the nation’s largest schools.  The street hosts a variety of bars and shops, as well as the most historic buildings in the local area.  Take a wander and have a beer in the historic Laird and Dines building at Gringo Star Street Bar, or enjoy the scenery and missing clothing at El Hefe Mexican Restaurant.  Buy some cool Sun Devil Gear at Cactus Sports before questing for cool at Sparky’s Old Town Creamery or drinking in an alcohol filled slushy at Fat Tuesday’s.  Need something organic and fair trade to suit your Bay Area nature?  Pita Jungle is a Valley staple that will satisfy vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, pescatarians, and egalitarians alike.

Once you’ve had your fill, wander around the campus, or call your favorite ride sharing app (Lyft was founded at the University of Arizona, ASU’s ugly stepsister to the south, so Uber is preferred), and ride over to the Thirsty Lion for pre-game.

Pre-Match Party

The Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill is the official pub of Phoenix Rising FC.  Located at Tempe Marketplace, the Thirsty Lion serves up solid handcrafted food from scratch, and has a large selection of beers on-tap.  Join in friendly banter with PFRC Jersey-clad fans and raise a pint to the opportunity to face the San Jose Earthquakes in the 4th round.

Getting to The Game

When the time comes, wait outside the Thirsty Lion for the complimentary PRFC Shuttle to take you to the game.  Of course, if you are up for some exercise, work up a sweat with a short .8 mile walk across the Salt River.

What to Expect

Although Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex is a pop-up stadium, it has all the comforts of home.  The stadium can handle nearly 7,000 fans with standing-room-only tickets.  There are no bad seats in the entire house, as the size and design of the stadium is both intimate and accessible.  Supporters groups Bandidos and La Furia Roja 1881 fuel energy on and off the pitch.  One thing to know: do NOT call the ‘P-word’ chant on goal kicks – or ever.  It is not welcome in the stadium, and repeated calls will cause a visit from security.

There are several food options, and you’ll find Arizona’s best beer (in my humble opinion) at the Four Peaks Brewing stand inside the stadium.  Give the Kiltlifter a try.  It’s a tasty Scottish-style ale that has fueled Tempe’s students for over 20 years.  Food trucks vary by game, but there is always a fine selection.

What to Bring (and not to …)

There are no permanent bathrooms in the stadium, so you will be using port-a-potties or bathroom trailers.  If I were you, I’d be using the bathroom trailers, which are air-conditioned.  There are sinks, but bring plenty of hand sanitizer.

Phoenix has had an incredibly mild Spring.  Note the word ‘had.’  By the time you arrive, Summer will be in full swing.  Game time forecast should be right at 100 degrees.  DRINK LOTS OF WATER.  You may NOT bring sealed water bottles inside the PRSC so plan on purchasing inside the stadium.  Fair warning – you will NOT know that you’re dehydrating.  Sweat evaporates so quickly that you won’t even know you are losing water from every pore.  Drink at least 12 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage.  We want you to enjoy your visit, and I guarantee that won’t happen from inside the emergency room at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center (though the staff there is excellent).

Post-Match

Follow the line back to the Thirsty Lion to drown your sorrows, or carefully cross McClintock Road and partake in some adult-only entertainment at the local gentleman’s club.  Do NOT call a ride-sharing service from the Stadium, as they can get in easily, but you will be caught in a long, time-consuming line to exit.  Instead, walk back to Tempe Marketplace before placing your ride-sharing order.  From there, enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow football fans, or head to downtown Scottsdale to play it up like a player.  The East Valley is your oyster.  Enjoy your time, and take it all in!