The Phoenix Rising FC franchise is bidding for an MLS expansion bid some time down the road, and the club just showed off what it could offer to MLS in terms of a home venue.
The club released its first stadium renderings for an open-air 21,000 seat stadium with an awning over the seats but an opening over the playing surface. Phoenix Rising is working with stadium design firm Populous and a local firm to design the futuristic-looking stadium.
Phoenix Rising is co-owned by former Chelsea great Didier Drogba, who is playing his final season on the field this year.
Due to Phoenix’s hot climate, especially during July and August – the middle of the soccer season in the U.S. – the club is proposing a stadium that is engineered to maximize wind and airflow through the concourses and entrances, water walls to cool fans as they enter the stadium, and plenty of shade in the seats. The majority of seats will be on the west-end of the stadium, facing away from the sun.
“The renderings really bring the stadium to life,” said Brett Johnson, co-chairman for Phoenix Rising FC. “We are excited for the fans to see the innovative, one-of-a-kind design with special attention paid to maximizing shade and airflow in the stadium to ensure player and fan comfort.”
Regardless of if Phoenix Rising makes it to MLS, if the ownership group commits to fund and build a modern stadium as close to the renderings as possible, it can only be a boon to professional soccer in the Southwest.
There are some controversies involved though. Due to the climate, it would be tough to play games during the dog days of summer at home, forcing Phoenix to possible play a majority of its summer matches on the road or later in the evening once the sun has set.
In addition, the stadium site is located 10 miles east of downtown Phoenix. According to a report from SI.com, MLS has allowed the site to be used, but it bucks the trend and request from MLS for teams to build downtown stadiums that can attract more fans. Phoenix’s argument with their preferred stadium site is that it’s located near two highways and isn’t far from Arizona State University.
The site is located on land owned by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which has made the land purchase complicated as well. But if the team feels comfortable enough to release stadium renderings, perhaps they feel confident a land deal will be agreed soon.