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Phoenix Rising's business impact being felt in Tempe, Scottsdale

By - Aug 16, 2017

By Orlando Manzo/For The Sporting Nation

In its first season as Phoenix Rising FC, the team is already causing an economic impact on businesses across the 202 freeway at Tempe Marketplace.
 
“We are seeing a huge increase in population of soccer fans coming to our restaurant,” said Usiel Molina, bar manager at Thirsty Lion.  
 
Molina has noticed the differences in the attendance between last summer and this one, as the restaurant reaches its maximum capacity of 500 people for every Phoenix Rising home match.
 
“Right now, we are seeing that prior to their games which kickoff is around 7:30 p.m., we start seeing people fill up this place around 5 and when this place is full, I would say that about 85 percent of those people are Phoenix Rising fans.” Molina said.
 
Molina is very optimistic that this team will be a Major League Soccer squad soon and shared a report with the exact numbers for every home match this year against last year when the team was not across the freeway.
 
According to the report and matching dates like Sunday, April 24, 2016, to Sunday, April 23, 2017, Thirsty Lion made a profit of $6,268 for just one day. Additionally, for the two home games during the month of May, the restaurant made another extra $9,858 in revenue. 

“Another important point is when the team wins or ties, we see half of those fans coming back here to keep the celebration going and we are more than happy to see them coming back.” Molina said.
 
Jim Lane, mayor of the city of Scottsdale, is also happy with the location of the team near Scottsdale and Tempe. The mayor said that the team will make a huge impact on fans and the economy of Arizona.
 
“Soccer is coming as new sport here in the valley, but is like any other sport and they can economically impact not just one city. With the attendance that they are generating it will impact the cities near the stadium like Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix.” Lane said.
 
Lane, who is serving his third term as mayor, also talked about the importance of the stadium’s location.
 
“The location of the stadium is also very important, as they chose the perfect location to be near Tempe Marketplace where they have multiple bars and restaurants. This is certainly going to benefit those businesses and the communities around.” Lane said.
 
Fan Base
 
Over the last decade, MLS has grown at an average pace of just about a team a year and exactly 11 MLS expansion teams sprouting in just 10 years from 2007 to 2017.
 
Los Angeles FC will come on board in 2018 and there's David Beckham's push for an expansion side in Miami, then four more teams will come after that, taking the league to 28 competitive teams.
 
The 12 cities in contention for the next four teams are: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Phoenix.
 
It seems that Phoenix can be the right location for an MLS franchise because the city has as a large population, including millennials and Latinos. The two groups have driven much of the sport’s surge in popularity in the U.S. in the last decade. Phoenix also has the largest TV audience and no existing MLS team within 300 miles. 
 
The evidence and numbers are there to support Phoenix's bid and thanks to recent soccer events in the valley, Phoenix Rising can potentially be the next MLS team.
 
Soccer events have traditionally done well here, with CONCACAF’s Gold Cup in 2015 a sellout at University of Phoenix Stadium, drawing 62,910 fans to watch Trinidad and Tobago vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. Guatemala. A Copa America event last year between Mexico and Uruguay attracted about 60,000 fans, and the Gold Cup quarterfinal in July featuring a Mexico side without many of its big names still drew more than 37,000 to Glendale.
 
Having the Arizona State University main campus just a few miles away, students being courted by the team as they can enjoy their first soccer match for free when they show their student ID at the box offices.
 
It is proven that the fan base is there, and now it's just a matter of time for Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer, to name the next two expansion teams sometime this year and for them to compete in 2020. MLS will select two more teams at some indeterminate time to be known later.
 
 

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