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Phoenix Rising Football Club Officially Submits Expansion Application to Major League Soccer

By Phoenix Rising FC Communications, 01/31/17, 5:30PM MST


Phoenix joins 11 cities in officially submitting bids to join Major League Soccer

(PHOENIX, AZ) January 31, 2017 – Phoenix Rising Football Club officially submitted its expansion application bid to Major League Soccer today. Phoenix is one of 12 markets with groups that have also submitted expansion application bids to Major League Soccer (MLS). The deadline for submitting a bid was today.

After reviewing expansion applications and meeting with each ownership group, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:

  • Two new expansion teams before the end of 2017.  Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.
  • Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date.  The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided later this year.

“Phoenix, Arizona is ready for Major League Soccer and we’re excited to officially submit our bid today,” said Phoenix Rising FC governor Berke Bakay. “Phoenix is the largest expansion market in the United States.  We offer MLS the largest population of Millennial and Hispanic soccer fans, and the most TV households.  Phoenix is also the only expansion market without an existing MLS team within 300 miles.  It’s time for the MLS to come to the southwest and rise with our fans in Phoenix.”

Overall, ownership groups from 12 different cities also publicly submitted bids by : Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raliegh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa. But, Phoenix is statistically at the top in nearly every measure:the January 31, 2017, deadline

Phoenix Rising FC’s bid included letters of support from more than 45 political and business leaders from the Phoenix area and an impressive plan to privately fund and build a new, climate-controlled, soccer-specific MLS stadium on the 45 acre site recently put under contract by the Club with the Solanna Group, a real estate development company within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Phoenix Rising FC’s proposed climate-controlled, soccer specific stadium will be the centerpiece of a larger soccer complex and mixed use development that will accommodate the Phoenix Rising FC soccer academy and community soccer events, and will include light rail access for fans throughout the Valley.  The HOK designed stadium envisions ETFE pillows as a transparent roof material, a light-weight material that is about 1% the weight of an alternative/typical material.  There is also the opportunity to include photovoltaic panels in the skin to extract and store energy to use for lighting, cooling, etc.

MLS has considered Phoenix to be an attractive soccer market since its beginnings.  In fact, MLS executives visited Phoenix and toured potential stadium sites 13 years ago, including the site recently secured by Phoenix Rising FC within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in south Scottsdale. 

“Major League Soccer began with 10 clubs back in 1996, and we now have 12 markets vying to secure a team in our next round of expansion,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “That’s a strong statement about the League and the growth of the sport in the United States and Canada.  We would like to thank all of the groups for submitting their expansion applications, and we have been encouraged by the support from government officials, corporate leaders and fan enthusiasm in each market.  We look forward to reviewing the applications and meeting with the ownership groups in the coming months.”  

Phoenix Rising FC governor Berke Bakay led a group of investors comprised of experienced CEOs, private equity financiers, successful entrepreneurs, real estate experts, surgeons and global leaders in the entertainment industry that purchased the Arizona United Soccer Club in August of 2016.  The group quickly re-branded the team as Phoenix Rising FC, negotiated a long-term land lease at the northwest corner of the 101 and 202 freeway in south Scottsdale, began construction of a new, soccer-specific stadium and training facility, and empowered its Head Coach and President of Soccer Operations, two-time 'MLS Coach of the Year,' Frank Yallop, to invest in a roster of professional soccer players from around the world.

Phoenix Rising FC will play
its 2017 season in the United Soccer League (USL), which was recently awarded Division 2 status by the U.S. Soccer Federation.  Its first home match is scheduled for Saturday March 25 at 7:30pm against Toronto FC II.

About Phoenix Rising FC

Phoenix Rising FC is the highest level professional soccer franchise in Arizona’s history. Established in 2013, the club enters its fourth year in the United Soccer League, which has been awarded Division 2 status by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Beginning in March of 2017, Phoenix Rising FC will be playing in its new, soccer-specific stadium located at the northwest corner of the 101 and 202 freeways in south Scottsdale.  For more information on the club, visit the team's website at You can also follow the team on Facebook (PHXRisingFC), Twitter (@PHXRisingFC), Instagram (@PHXRisingFC), Snapchat (PHXRisingFC) and YouTube (PhoenixRisingFootballClub). For season tickets call (623) 594-9606 or visit

About Major League Soccer (MLS)

Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer will feature 22 clubs in 2017 throughout the United States and Canada. The league’s 22nd season will begin in early March. For more information about MLS, visit

About United Soccer League

The United Soccer League is the fastest growing professional soccer league in the world with teams in 19 states and three Canadian provinces. Since 2014, the USL has doubled in size and established a sizeable North American footprint with strong ownership, experienced executives and regional rivalries.

In 2016, the USL experienced record growth with a total season attendance of almost 1.5 million, a 33 percent increase from 2015. The average attendance for the league’s top-10 drawing teams was 6,724, a 25 percent increase year-over-year.

Creating an engaging environment for passionate fans, the USL aims to establish all clubs as owners or primary tenants of 8,000-10,000 seat soccer-specific stadiums by 2020. Teams have invested more than $100 million into stadium infrastructure in the last year to enhance the experience for the USL’s passionate fans, 900-plus players and nearly 100 coaches in building a highly sophisticated league.

Expanding its broadcast reach with ESPN and SiriusXM partnerships, USL “Games of the Week” were available this year on ESPN3 to 99 million households. The USL aired more than 500 games last season through its Match Center. Recently, the USL finalized a $10 million investment and partnership with VISTA Worldlink to create USL Productions, which will create more than 1,000 hours of live match coverage for 2017. Additionally, statistical analysis will be powered by Opta – the world’s leading provider of live, detailed sports data – who will manage and deliver in-depth details for all USL games.

Based in Tampa, Fla., the USL supports its teams with operational excellence through 50-plus employees and 16 departments including Analytics, Competition, Creative, Digital, League Operations, Marketing, Merchandise/Licensing, Team Services, USL Productions and more.

Follow the USL at, on USL Match Center, and on social media via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Leaders from Phoenix Rising FC visited MLS executives in New York City on Friday January 20, 2017.  (Pictured from left to right are: Phoenix Rising FC Co-Chairman Brett Johnson, Head Coach and President of Soccer Operations Frank Yallop, Governor Berke Bakay, Co-Owner and Board Member Mark Detmer, Co-Owner and Board Member David Rappaport, and Co-Owner and Board Member Tim Riester.)