27 and 28. Those are the two numbers that fans of Rising FC need to focus on. Expansion franchises 25 and 26 into the MLS won’t include Phoenix.
As expected, Major League Soccer passed on adding our hometown heroes in the 2017 round of expansion. Sacramento, Detroit, Nashville, and Cincinnati were announced Wednesday as the four finalists for 2020 franchises, only two of which will be selected. “The leaders of the Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento MLS expansion ownership groups have bold visions and innovative plans for their clubs, stadiums and their involvement in their respective communities,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
Why wasn’t Rising FC added this time around? In a word, timing. The Rising FC ownership group has only been together for just over a year and needs to attract more depth to it’s financial makeup. Finding the right partner(s) is still ongoing. Gotta have the deepest investment groups possible if you want to play in the MLS. The net worth of the ownership group has been looked at by MLS. Expect a new name or two to come into the fold in the coming months.
It’s important to look at how many boxes that Rising FC partners have been able to check off in such a short period of time. Majority owner Berke Bakey, Tim Riester, Mark Detmer, Brett Johnson, David Rappaport and others deserve A TON of credit for the work that can be seen(A beautiful stadium location right off the 202/101, working on building an academy, etc.) However, it’s still a very young group when it comes to catching up to expansion cities that have already been working on their MLS plans for several years. On the field, it’s important to continue to build the fan base. Sacramento averaged 11,500 fans per match in 2017. I think that’s a good round number to aim for here in Phoenix.
I don’t believe that Major League Soccer looks at Phoenix and says, “this isn’t going to happen,” There’s too much $$ sitting on the table to leave the largest television market without MLS sitting on the sideline. That’s who we are.