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Phoenix Rising, Just Sports strike historic deal

By - Oct 20, 2017

By Isaac Colindres/For The Sporting Nation


TEMPE, Ariz. -- It’s been less than a year since Arizona United was rebranded as Phoenix Rising FC by new ownership, and already this new club has accomplished more than their predecessors ever did.


This week, Phoenix Rising FC announced that they have partnered with Just Sports, which will now operate as the club’s official in-store retail partner.


It was a step forward for Rising FC, and one in which many within the club hope will help set the foundation for the future of their brand across the Valley of the Sun.


To celebrate the partnership, Rising FC players were in attendance at the Just Sports store at Tempe Marketplace Thursday night to sign autographs, meet fans, and show off their merchandise now available at all 19 Just Sports stores across Arizona. However, the Tempe Marketplace location will serve as the team's official in-store fan shop.


“We just want to start with [Phoenix Rising] from the ground up, and hopefully this thing turns into a bigger thing, where the team gets into [Major League Soccer]” said Mark Rolandson, general manager at the Just Sports in Tempe Marketplace. “Hopefully we’re there, and we’re there to support them, and help get a bigger product line … to get cooler stuff that wasn’t offered before.”


This is the first time in the history of Arizona soccer that a professional club has signed a partnership with a major retail company to begin producing and selling a product line in-store.


“This is just going to help us grow, and one big thing like this [partnership with Just Sports] will open another door for an opportunity somewhere else,” said goalkeeper Nolan Wirth. “And if that just continues to happen then it’ll continue to get bigger and bigger, which is what we want.”


It is no coincidence that the signing of this deal comes just months before MLS is set to announce the expansion of their league, which will introduce four new teams.


Two of the expansion teams are expected to be announced in mid-December of 2017, and they will join the MLS in 2020; while two more teams are set to be announced sometime in 2018, and they will be in the league in 2021.


Indeed, the Phoenix soccer club has eyes set on becoming one of those four teams inducted into the expansion, and the organization is priming themselves to be ready for such a promotion.


The partnership with Just Sports will ideally serve as a reaffirmation that the organization has a plan for the future of the franchise, as it looks to take advantage of the sports market Phoenix has to offer, which is one of the largest in the nation.


“I think that a team that is active in the community is not just a benefit to the community, it is also a benefit to whatever league the team is in,” said Jose Bosch, social media manager for the Phoenix Rising. “Partnerships like this with a local sports store ... really helps you to build that brand so that it’s not just people in the Tempe area, it’s not just people in the Chandler area, it’s the people all over the state of Arizona who can get behind this team.”

 

The timing of this week's event coincides with an important weekend for the club. Rising FC has its first ever playoff game against the Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City on Saturday. A win would further propel the momentum the club has going for itself, and it might even turn a few more MLS heads westward.

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