Phoenix Business Journal ran a piece this weekend about the possibility of an NASL franchise.
Both NASL and USL-Pro are interested in further expansion in this region. It’s a big part of why USL was so eager to build a relationship with FC Tucson.
Still, I wonder if this is more that Phoenix is on the NASL’s wish list than any major effort from the local community. The article refers to an investment group headed up by former city councilwoman Peggy Neely, but I don’t see any other names mentioned and certainly none who have ever been particularly excited about soccer before.
There has also been mentions of a possible USL-Pro team, but that was months ago and I haven’t heard much since.
So, what’s in the area now? The Phoenix Monsoon still exists, but it’s hard to imagine them being a long term prospect despite all the big talk they came in with. There is the group headed up by former Phoenix Monsoon coach Rosario Lopez to bring the PDL back to the area. Given Lopez’s organizational skills and connections, it seems for real.
By the way: the fact that we are already referring to “former Phoenix Monsoon” coaches indicates part of the trouble with that team.
Remember that the presence of an NASL or USL-Pro team in Phoenix would not make a continuing presence of the PDL or NPSL in the area impossible, or even difficult. Think of how many teams even mid-sized communities in New England and Southern California are able to accommodate. It all depends on whether people want to build synergy or have a war.
(By the way, there is no reason we shouldn’t have a decent network of PDL and NPSL teams in the state. At one time, there were PDL franchises in Tucson, Prescott and Phoenix. Why not Flagstaff? Nogales? Sierra Vista? Casa Grande? Yuma?)
Two things I find interesting.
It doesn’t sound like MLS is being discussed any more. The last serious effort, aside from the fan driven “Phoenix Rising” try, was a group that included former State Senator Slade Mead. That was nearly a decade ago, and from my conversations with Nelson Rodriguez, it doesn’t sound like Phoenix is on the radar these days, at least until they can prove that there is a fan base for MLS. Tucson seems to have done a better job of doing that.
What does NASL look for in the local community? Do they expect a ready fanbase? What are their stadium and organizational requirements?
I’ll try to put in a call to the NASL today to find out what the story is here.
UPDATE: After spending the morning talking to NASL folks, USL announced Phoenix is getting a franchise. Sheesh.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I spoke to Peggy Neely. The Phoenix Business Journal had it wrong: the group that Neely is a part of is investing in the USL franchise. I don’t know why the Journal said NASL, and even followed it up with further information about that league’s interest.
Neely, by the way, was president of the Sereno Soccer Club and was instrumental in the building of the Reach 11 soccer complex.