Gila Community likely site for new soccer stadium - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Gila Community likely site for new soccer stadium

December 31st, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Gila Community likely site for new soccer stadium


Ahwatukee could be within a stone’s throw of Arizona’s highest-level professional soccer team.
Phoenix Rising FC, announced it is relocating its stadium and professional training facilities from south Scottsdale to Wild Horse Pass within the Gila River Indian Community from the Casino Arizona site at McClintock Drive and Red Mountain Loop 202 Freeway.
“The move will immediately increase seating capacity at the stadium, improve VIP luxury suites, speed entry and exit from the stadium complex and add additional training fields,” the team said in an announcement.
“Since the launch of Phoenix Rising FC in 2016, fan support has been consistently increasing,” said Phoenix Rising FC Governor Berke Bakay, noting it sold out 23 consecutive matches at the Casino Arizona Field before the pandemic closed sporting events to spectators.
Bakay also said the move “will immediately increase stadium seating by more than 35 percent and also provide room for future expansion.”
In addition to increased seating, the stadium will include an enhanced video board, a larger press box, improved sound and a new family-friendly general admission section.
Plans also call for a “lively supporters’ area anchored by two of USL’s top fan groups Los Bandidos and Red Fury” as well as a permanent ticket office, new locker rooms and an on-site administrative office.
“The Gila River Indian Community has a history of successful partnerships with many professional and collegiate sports teams in the Valley,” said Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Lewis. “We are very much looking forward to having Phoenix Rising be the first to play its games within our community.”
The Gila River Indian Community and Wild Horse Pass Development Authority have been working for some time on the deal for the facility, which will be located just south of Gila River Hotels & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass near the junction of the I-10 and 202 freeways.
“The new stadium complex will feature multiple paved roads for quick entry and exit, a paved VIP parking lot and permanent bathrooms for fans,” the team said.
The team expects the facility will be open for the start of the 2021 USL Championship season, which is projected to begin on or around May 1.
USL is delaying the start of the 2021 season to give clubs the best chance to play a full season schedule in front of fans.
Prior to selecting Wild Horse Pass for its stadium and training facility expansion, Phoenix Rising officials said they spent the past four years discussing possible stadium locations with many local governments including Maricopa County, Mesa, Phoenix, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Scottsdale and Tempe.
“We appreciate everyone from these governments who spent time exploring stadium location options with us,” said Bakay.
“We will be forever grateful to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community families comprising the Solanna Group for embracing us in 2016 and providing a home on their land for our initial success. We intend to continue working with them well into the future, as their development plans include construction of a multi-purpose stadium and more sports fields.”
Established in 2016, the club has won the 2020 and 2018 Western Conference Titles as well as the USL Championship’s 2019 regular season title.
Scottsdale Unified School District several weeks ago had announced the club is also negotiating to take over an abandoned school campus for a training facility at 68th and Oak streets, and that deal is apparently still on the table.
“As one of the most successful professional soccer teams in North America playing in the USL Championship, Phoenix Rising needs to accommodate its growing fan base with a larger stadium, welcome visiting teams from around the world with more training sites for its expanding spring training professional soccer tournament, and provide for its thriving non-profit youth soccer organization with more fields,” said Jordan Rose, president of Rose Law Group.
The Wild Horse Pass Development Authority is an enterprise of the Gila River Indian Community and oversees the development and management of Wild Horse Pass, including a 3,300-acre master planned commercial development with retail, restaurants, resort and recreation, indoor/outdoor entertainment and office.