Phoenix Rising's

Phoenix Rising's new stadium on Gila River Indian Community land in Chandler could be open this year, but it's unclear if the professional soccer club will still need the old Tonalea School site in Scottsdale.

Phoenix Rising FC – currently in negotiations with the Scottsdale Unified School District to lease the former Tonalea Elementary campus for a practice facility – is also moving its stadium from Casino Arizona to the Gila River Indian Community’s Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.

The stadium will have a 35 percent greater capacity than the 6,200 of its previous home at McClintock Drive and Loop 202, as well as permanent bathrooms, paved parking with multiple entrances and exits, a double-sided video screen, more practice fields and improved family and VIP experiences.

“We know that the product on the field is fantastic. I think now, you’re going to have a venue that matches the product,” coach Rick Schantz said. 

“This is all about the fans. This is all about fan experience, excitement, in-game experience. I think Phoenix Rising, our ownership, has been fantastic in their vision, and this is just another step along the way.”

The club advanced to the USL Championship in 2020 before it was canceled because multiple Tampa Bay players tested positive for COVID-19.

The yet-to-be-named stadium has most fans excited for the upgrades although some have expressed concern for the location and the limitations of public transportation. For Arizona State students, especially, the old south Scottsdale location was ideal.

General manager Bobby Dulle believes fans will learn to love the changes.

“Believe in this ownership group. Believe in this club. We’re going to continue to try to listen,” Dulle said. “I think (we’re) an organization that is committed to winning, an organization that is committed to being good stewards in the community, and an organization that cares about our fan base. And so for us, we’re looking for feedback.”

Schantz believes the move will be a boost to his players as well as help the process of recruiting new players.

“I think now, with two training fields, with a larger area for physical development, with more shade and a more climate-controlled space for the players, I think it’s just going to allow me to be even more creative and make the team bigger, stronger and faster,” he said.

Mark Gardo, who spoke on the behalf of the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority, said the stadium will cost “in excess of at least several million dollars,” and that funding will come from Wild Horse Pass and from the club.

The first phase of the project is underway.

The organization’s push to become an MLS team has become more evident. Rising club governor Berke Bakay believes that with this stadium, its fanbase and Phoenix logging in as the No. 5 market in the United States, it is only a matter of time until Rising becomes an MLS club.

“We have one of the fastest growing populations. It’s an extremely important media market. We have a great relationship with the league we are in,” Bakay said. “We’re proud of where we are with the USL Championship, and at the same time, we have a great working relationship with the team at MLS, and they’re very closely watching what’s going on including what just happened here and what can happen in the future.”

The Tonalea site, at 68th and Oak streets, has been vacant since 2014 and Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel last month told the Governing Board, “Phoenix Rising has expressed an interest in leasing the 68th Street property and making some improvements in terms of soccer fields, practice fields for them as well as a walking track and some other recreational amenities for the neighborhood.”