Wed. Apr 10th, 2024

Arizona Major League Soccer: A Timeline of Events

Major League Soccer (MLS) has been a major force in the world of professional soccer since its inception in 1993. The league has expanded rapidly over the years, with teams now located all across the United States and Canada. One state that has seen significant growth in MLS is Arizona. With two teams currently in the league and plans for a third team in the works, Arizona has become a hotbed for soccer in the US. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the timeline of events that have led to the rise of Major League Soccer in Arizona.

The Early Years of MLS in Arizona

The first MLS team to call Arizona home was the Phoenix Rising FC, formerly known as the Arizona United SC. The team was founded in 2014 and played their first season in the United Soccer League (USL), which is considered the second tier of professional soccer in the US. However, in 2017, the team announced their intention to join MLS and began working towards meeting the requirements for expansion.

In 2018, the Phoenix Rising FC made headlines when they signed Didier Drogba, a former Chelsea FC and Ivory Coast national team player, as a player-owner. This move brought international attention to the team and helped to solidify their position as a serious contender for MLS expansion.

The Arrival of the Second Team: Inter Miami CF

In 2020, MLS announced that a second team would be joining the league in Arizona. Inter Miami CF, owned by former English footballer David Beckham, was set to begin play in the 2020 season. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their debut was delayed until 2021.

Inter Miami CF’s arrival in Arizona was met with excitement from both fans and investors. The team’s ownership group includes several high-profile names such as Jorge Mas, CEO of MasTec, and Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International. This level of investment and star power further solidified Arizona’s position as a major player in the world of MLS.

The Impact of Major League Soccer on Arizona’s Economy

The arrival of MLS in Arizona has had a significant impact on the state’s economy. According to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, the Phoenix Rising FC alone generated an economic impact of $37.5 million in 2019. This includes direct spending from fans, as well as indirect and induced impacts from job creation and increased tourism.

With the addition of Inter Miami CF, this economic impact is expected to increase even further. The team’s ownership group has already invested over $100 million in their stadium and training facilities, creating jobs and boosting the local economy. In addition, the team’s presence is expected to attract more visitors to the state, leading to increased spending in hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

The Challenges and Opportunities for Arizona Major League Soccer

While the growth of MLS in Arizona has been largely positive, there have also been challenges along the way. One of the main challenges has been securing funding for stadiums and facilities. Both the Phoenix Rising FC and Inter Miami CF have faced difficulties in this area, with the former still in need of a permanent stadium and the latter facing delays due to the pandemic.

However, these challenges have also presented opportunities for growth and development. The Phoenix Rising FC has been working towards building a new stadium in Tempe, which would not only provide a permanent home for the team but also create jobs and stimulate the local economy. Similarly, Inter Miami CF’s delay has allowed them to focus on community outreach and engagement, building a strong fan base before they even take the field.

Arizona Major League Soccer: A Case Study

Arizona’s success in attracting and growing MLS teams has become a case study for other markets looking to enter the league. The state’s strong economy, diverse population, and growing interest in soccer make it an ideal location for expansion. In addition, the success of the Phoenix Rising FC and the excitement surrounding Inter Miami CF have shown that there is a demand for professional soccer in Arizona.

Other cities and states looking to bring MLS to their communities can learn from Arizona’s approach. By investing in infrastructure, engaging with the community, and building a strong fan base, Arizona has set an example for how to successfully launch and grow a professional soccer team.

The Future of Major League Soccer in Arizona

The future looks bright for Major League Soccer in Arizona. With two teams already in the league and plans for a third team in the works, the state is poised to become a major hub for professional soccer in the US. In addition, the continued investment and growth of the Phoenix Rising FC and Inter Miami CF show that there is a strong commitment to the sport in Arizona.

One potential challenge for the future of MLS in Arizona is competition from other sports leagues. The state is home to several professional sports teams, including the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), and the Phoenix Suns (NBA). However, with the increasing popularity of soccer in the US and the unique appeal of MLS, it is likely that the league will continue to thrive in Arizona.

Arizona Major League Soccer: A Comparison to Other Markets

When comparing Arizona to other markets in terms of MLS expansion, there are several factors to consider. One key factor is population size. Arizona’s population of over 7 million people makes it a desirable market for MLS, as it provides a large potential fan base. In addition, the state’s diverse population, with a significant Hispanic and Latino population, aligns well with the demographics of MLS fans.

Another important factor is the level of interest in soccer within the state. While Arizona may not have a long history of professional soccer, there is a growing interest in the sport, as evidenced by the success of the Phoenix Rising FC and the excitement surrounding Inter Miami CF’s arrival. This interest, combined with the state’s strong economy and potential for growth, makes it a prime location for MLS expansion.

The Benefits of Major League Soccer for Arizona

The benefits of having MLS teams in Arizona go beyond just economic impact. The presence of professional soccer in the state also provides opportunities for youth development and community engagement. Both the Phoenix Rising FC and Inter Miami CF have invested in youth academies and programs, providing young players with access to top-level coaching and training.

In addition, the teams have also been involved in various community initiatives, such as hosting clinics and events for underprivileged children and partnering with local organizations to promote health and wellness. These efforts not only benefit the community but also help to build a strong fan base and cultivate a positive image for the teams.

The History of Major League Soccer in Arizona

While MLS may be a relatively new addition to Arizona’s sports landscape, the state has a long history of soccer. The first professional soccer team in Arizona was the Phoenix Inferno, which played in the Major Indoor Soccer League from 1980 to 1984. In the 1990s, the Arizona Sandsharks and the Arizona Sahuaros both played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League.

However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Phoenix Rising FC that professional outdoor soccer gained traction in the state. With their successful bid for MLS expansion and the arrival of Inter Miami CF, Arizona has firmly established itself as a major player in the world of professional soccer.

Arizona Major League Soccer: A Fan Perspective

As a fan of both the Phoenix Rising FC and Inter Miami CF, I can attest to the excitement and passion surrounding MLS in Arizona. The atmosphere at games is electric, with fans of all ages and backgrounds coming together to support their teams. The diversity of the fan base is a testament to the inclusive nature of MLS and its ability to bring people together through the love of soccer.

In addition, the growth of MLS in Arizona has also provided opportunities for fans to get involved in the community. From volunteering at events to participating in youth programs, there are many ways for fans to connect with their teams and make a positive impact in their communities.

The Economic Impact of Major League Soccer on Arizona

As mentioned earlier, the economic impact of MLS in Arizona has been significant. In addition to direct spending from fans, the league has also created jobs and stimulated the local economy through investments in stadiums and facilities. This economic impact is expected to continue to grow as MLS expands in the state.

However, the economic benefits of MLS in Arizona go beyond just dollars and cents. The presence of professional soccer in the state also helps to attract new businesses and talent, as well as promote tourism. This can have a ripple effect on the economy, leading to even more growth and development in the future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the rise of Major League Soccer in Arizona has been a remarkable journey. From the early days of the Phoenix Rising FC to the arrival of Inter Miami CF, the state has proven itself to be a major player in the world of professional soccer. With a strong economy, diverse population, and growing interest in the sport, Arizona is well-positioned for continued success in MLS.

The impact of MLS on Arizona’s economy has been significant, but the benefits go beyond just financial gain. The league has also provided opportunities for youth development, community engagement, and fan involvement. As a fan, I am excited to see what the future holds for MLS in Arizona and look forward to being a part of this growing soccer community.

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