Phoenix Rising releases renderings for future stadium, eyes MLS bid

A rendering of Phoenix Rising’s proposed stadium that would go in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community across the freeway from Tempe Marketplace. (Submitted Photo)

Red smoke paints the stadium as the second-largest crowd in Phoenix Rising history erupts in cheer and joy as the referee blows the final whistle, signaling the end of the first home game of the 2018 United Soccer League season.

Rising just defeated Oklahoma City Energy 4-1 and is now headed to the locker rooms of the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex — what the team hopes is their temporary home — in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

A temporary home because the ownership group is bulldozing forward with the idea of becoming part of Major League Soccer.

This month, Los Angeles FC debuted as MLS’s 23rd team. Spots No. 24 and 25 were awarded to Nashville and Miami and spot No. 26 will be given to one of Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento.

Phoenix will contend for spots No. 27 and 28 with 10 other cities.

A major building block of that bid came to fruition recently with the release of the proposed MLS stadium renderings. The stadium features an open roof, water walls to prevent heat from entering and shaded seats.

“I think it’s important to keep the momentum and message out there that we’re continuing to push, putting all the ingredients in place to hopefully secure a spot in Major League Soccer,” Rising Chief Operating Officer Bobby Dulle said.

After meetings with different architectural firms in the summer of 2017, Rising chose Populous and teamed them up with Phoenix-based design firm Gould Evans. Populous has designed seven MLS stadiums. This will be Gould Evans’s first foray into building a soccer specific stadium.

The stadium’s design is asymmetric, with the intention of providing shade for the majority of the seats, according to the club press release. It also contains canopies that will cover the stadium in order to maximize airflow and cool off the temperature in an efficient manner.

The approximate cost to build the 21,000-seat stadium is $250 million and will be privately funded, Mr. Dulle confirmed.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and tribal developer Solana Group own the land where the current Rising stadium stands. In 2016, Rising came to an agreement to build its temporary home.

“We also appreciate the Club’s commitment to bring a state-of-the-art, FIFA stadium designed for Arizona’s climate to Salt River as a significant contribution to the economic growth of the Community,” Solana CEO and general manager David Fordon said back in an official club release in November 2016.

Mr. Fordon was not available for comment regarding the proposed new stadium.

Rising added foreign billionaire investor Alex Zheng to the club ownership group last month in an attempt to bolster its MLS bid. Even though the club is keeping other possible stadium locations open, the proposed arena will most likely be built around the existing setup across from Tempe Marketplace.

Mr. Dulle said whether the team will continue playing in their current stadium during a possible construction around it is yet to be determined.

Mr. Dulle said the response on the renderings was fantastic and that Rising has all the ingredients to secure an MLS spot.

“We have a great market in Phoenix. … We have a proven large sporting event market,” he said. “We have fantastic weather.”

Weather was a serious consideration when designing the proposed stadium.

“The first thing we always do in the desert is orient the building in a proper manner. Shade becomes incredibly important as well as increasing the amount of ventilation possible,” Krista Shepherd, principal at Gould Evans said.

Ms. Shepherd said both Gould Evans and Populous decided against a dome primarily because of natural grass.

Players prefer to play on it, according to Ms. Shepherd, and in order for it to grow correctly there needs to be a balance between sun and shade open air stadiums provide.

“We’re just really excited to be able to work with Phoenix Rising to help bring an MLS franchise to our town,” Ms. Shepherd said.

Editor’s Note: Ricardo Ávila is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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