USL Expansion Centered On Stadium-Anchored Entertainment Districts
In 2016, Brett M. Johnson, principal at real estate development firm Fortuitous Partners, bought a minority stake in Arizona United SC. The soccer club was rebranded as Phoenix Rising FC later that year under new ownership led by Berke Bakay, president and CEO of Kona Grill.
Guided by former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba, the newly minted Phoenix Rising FC advanced to the Western Conference quarterfinals in 2017 and reached the USL Championship the following season. Phoenix didn’t miss a beat after the Ivorian’s retirement, winning a record 20 consecutive games during the 2019 campaign en route to the USL Championship regular-season title.