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SRPMIC Welcomes Phoenix Rising Soccer Club to Community

The Phoenix Rising Football Club opened its 2017 season on March 25 against Toronto.

The most popular sport in the world has come to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

On March 25, Phoenix Rising Football Club opened its 2017 soccer season against Toronto FC II at its new soccer complex on tribal land, only eight weeks after construction started. The Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex, at 751 N. McClintock Drive, was built in the southwestern corner of the Community, just north of Loop 202 and the popular Tempe Marketplace. Looking northeastward, the Community, Red Mountain and Four Peaks serve as a powerful backdrop for the 6,200-seat complex.

Before the match, Phoenix Rising hosted a ribbon-cutting for the new complex. Sharing a few celebratory words in a news conference before cutting the ribbon were David Fordon, CEO and general manager of Solanna Group, which represents the landowners; Claire Miller, landowner family spokeswoman and Solanna Group president; SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier; and Phoenix Rising FC Governor Berke Bakay. Community member Jeffery Fulwilder delivered a blessing.

“This is a vision, a dream that has turned into a reality,” Miller said. “Historically, this property has been in the family since the early 1900s. We have waited to put something on it, something that we can be proud of and that matches our vision, [something] good for the Community and family, and something to be proud of.”

Miller added that Pima and Maricopa ancestors competed in hand and foot games on the land, and that she was glad that a physical activity like soccer has come back to the land.

“This is a dream come true for all of us,” Bakay said. “My friends, today we celebrate, but it’s not going to be too long for us [before we have] built a FIFA-specific, bigger stadium on these grounds.”

A larger soccer stadium and a 200-acre sports and entertainment district are under discussion to be built on the site, Fordon said.

Phoenix Rising is the highest-level professional soccer franchise in Arizona and competes in the United Soccer League. In November, Arizona United Soccer Club rebranded itself as Phoenix Rising Football Club and announced the collaboration with Solanna Group. Soccer is widely considered the world’s No. 1 sport, and its popularity has risen in the U.S. over the years.

Harvier welcomed soccer fans and supporters on behalf of SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., and the Tribal Council. He thanked the landowners, the Solanna Group and Phoenix Rising FC for making this possible.

“Anytime you can bring people together and have a good time, that’s about bringing family together, and family is the most important thing that we have in our lives,” Harvier said. “To bring the young ones out there to see what it takes and possibly reach the level that these professionals are playing at, that’s the dream that may [start] here tonight. To promote health and wellness, that’s the most important thing we want for our children, to have a good life.”

The crowd of 6,890 witnessed a back-and-forth match that ended in a 1-0 Toronto win.

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