Guest Editorial: How Phoenix Rising is Building an Organic, Viral and National Brand $1 Beer at a Time

By Recker McDowell —

What are the greatest streaks in sports?

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, winning streaks by UCLA men’s basketball and UConn’s women’s basketball and the Boston Celtics 8 straight NBA titles in the Bill Russell era come to mind.

The Phoenix Rising FC soccer team has their own (quirky but nonetheless interesting) streak brewing in the desert.

And we literally mean brewing.

The Phoenix Rising have won 11 straight USL soccer games on $1 beer night promotions. The soccer team plays at Casino Arizona Stadium on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and has cultivated a strong grassroots fan base.

The Rising’s beer night win streak has even drawn national attention from ESPN.

The Rising have done well on the field in USL, a soccer league one step below Major League Soccer. The Rising are in first place this season and lost in the USL championship game last year.

The United Soccer League does not have the big media deals of other sports leagues. Other teams and markets in the USL include the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tulsa Roughnecks, Las Vegas Lights, Reno 1868, New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive.

That requires Phoenix Rising and its soccer brethren to be creative, innovative and organic in their marketing and cultivation of fans. The $1 beer nights are just one example of that.

The team has fashioned hospitality suites out of shipping containers and cultivated fan engagement that looks more like what’s found at soccer stadiums around the world rather than the sometimes staid fans at other Phoenix sports venues. Phoenix Rising has also grown partnerships with local Arizona brands.

Other Arizona teams and businesses can learn a lot from Phoenix Rising beyond $1 beer nights. Fans (and consumers as a whole) put a premium on experiences whether it be at games, restaurants, coffee shops or workplaces. Fans are not going to games just to watch sports. They want to be part of an experience. They want to feel connected and valued. Soccer teams in the MLS and USL have been increasingly successful at making experiences and sense of fandom part of their business model recipes.

Phoenix Rising is doing that here in the desert and other teams, brands and workplaces can learn from its best practices.