USL PRO club Arizona United averaged an attendance of 2,395 at Peoria Sports Complex in its first season in existence.
Good for eighth in the then 14-team league. But not as well as the club hoped. One of the most accepted reasons of why the club didn’t draw bigger crowds was location.
United hopes to remedy that with a new home stadium, starting this upcoming 2015 season.
ODFC News has learned that United will likely play its home matches at Scottsdale Stadium, located in Old Town Scottsdale and spring training home of the San Francisco Giants. We’ve been told the announcement could come “this week.”
UPDATE: Arizona United make the announcement official. (More below.)
On Monday night, United sent an email to a few supporters that the club will be “making an announcement” on Tuesday “that will have a positive impact going into the 2015 season.” ODFC News isn’t privy on whether or not this new stadium deal is Tuesday’s announcement. (It could very well be the announcement of United affiliating with MLS club FC Dalllas, which bigdsoccer.com reported last month. On a side note, ODFC News had heard early last season that United was going to affiliate with both Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas; that plan was likely scrapped after RSL decided to form its own USL PRO club, Real Monarchs.)
Scottsdale Stadium should offer United a location closer to the large East Valley soccer fan base, a group that has thought to be more interested or capable of attending matches — and buying tickets — to watch the team play. Scottsdale Stadium’s capacity is 12,000, but United will likely keep its home-match “capacity” closer to 5,000 unless the demand for more is there.
Despite having just two weeks to prepare for its inaugural year, United had hoped to draw bigger crowds at Peoria Sports Complex, considering the time and resources the club put in its marketing efforts throughout the season as well as the size of the Phoenix metropolitan area. But it didn’t pan out, even with the club giving hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets away for free before each home match.
Peoria Sports Complex held several positive aspects for United — it was already in partnership with United owner Kyle Eng’s media marketing company (and the stadium was right outside the company offices’ doors), the City of Peoria (which owns the stadium) wanted United there, Eng lives in Peoria and was proud to bring a pro soccer team to his city, it was right off the Loop 101 highway and relatively easy to get to from the highway exit.
But in the end, the stadium didn’t pull enough people onto its seats for United to stay. Eng continues to pour in resources and money to build a competitive club that Valley soccer fans can be proud of. This is the first real off-season United has and it’s pushing to sign a talented roster as well as formulating a big marketing plan to really hit the Valley sports market like it wanted to last season.
United wants to get its grand scheme right. And get it right quickly.
The club looks to be banking that Scottsdale Stadium is the right choice to call home.
“This is the next step in professional soccer’s evolution in Arizona,” Arizona United Soccer Club owner Kyle Eng said of the move to Scottsdale Stadium in a statement. “Our mission is to serve the entire Arizona soccer community, and this move will bring the beautiful game to a wider audience. With Scottsdale Stadium’s proximity to restaurants and nightlife in Downtown Scottsdale, our supporters will enjoy a game day experience that is second to none.”
“The people of Scottsdale love sports, and soccer is definitely among the most popular, Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane said. “That’s why we are so excited to welcome the Arizona United Soccer Club to Scottsdale Stadium and Downtown Scottsdale. It’s a great venue in a great location, and it will provide a great home field advantage for Arizona’s only professional soccer team. We can’t wait to kick off the season.”
“We are grateful to the City of Peoria and the Peoria Sports Complex for their support and hard work in our first season,” said Eng, founder and owner of Peoria-based Arrowhead Advertising. “With their help, we provided a first-class venue for our players, fans and partners.”
In Scottsdale Stadium, the soccer pitch will run north and south, with the north goal in front of the left field wall and the south goal along the first base line.
“We’re looking forward to a long and successful partnership,” Scottsdale Stadium Supervisor Jeff Cesaretti said. “Professional soccer will expose the stadium to a new audience and Scottsdale Stadium will provide a unique experience for soccer fans.”
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NOTES: RecklessChallenge.net reported this week that USL PRO is applying for Division 2 status in the United States Soccer Federation’s pro soccer league system. (ODFC News has been told the league will not be called “MLS 2.” Cue sad trombone.) Reckless Challenge also reported that USLPRO, now with 24 clubs heading into the 2015 season, will be divided into two conferences and also mentioned the league’s scheduling format.