Phoenix Rising FC, Arizona’s highest-level professional soccer team, announced today the transfer of ownership in its USL League One team and southern Arizona affiliate, FC Tucson, to Benevolent Sports Tucson, LLC a subsidiary of private equity firm Benevolent Capital led by original Phoenix Rising FC founder/investor Brett Johnson.
"Brett Johnson was the initial investor in Phoenix Rising FC who assembled its foundation of local shareholders and energetic board members,” said Phoenix Rising FC Governor Berke Bakay. “With the relocation of Phoenix Rising’s professional training facilities and stadium expansion at Wild Horse Pass requiring our current focus, it is the right time to leverage Brett’s successful experience by having him develop similar success for FC Tucson.”
In addition to Johnson’s experience building Phoenix Rising FC, he is also currently the principal owner of the USL Championship franchise launching in Rhode Island in 2023, and an investor and board member of the Danish professional soccer club FC Helsingør. He will remain an owner and board member of PHX Rising.
“Tucson is a soccer town,” said Johnson. “I’m honored and excited for this opportunity. The history of MLS preseasons, the many years of success as an amateur team in the USL League 2, the 2019 transition to professional play in USL League One, an affiliation with one of the largest youth soccer clubs in Tucson, and last year’s arrival of new club President, Amanda Powers… The right ingredients coming together for the start of a new decade for sports in Tucson.”
The timing of this announcement coincides with the recent news that the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will return in 2021 after its first hiatus in more than 100 years. In recent seasons under Phoenix Rising’s technical control, FC Tucson was restricted from participating in U.S. Open Cup play. Now that the club is under full technical independence and eligibility, it is again eligible to compete in the historic tournament.
Phoenix Rising’s contribution to FC Tucson has been significant. Rising elevated FC Tucson from amateur to professional status, created an affiliate program with the FC Tucson Youth Soccer Club and upheld the tradition of Tucson’s treasured annual MLS preseason event. The clubs now look forward to many years of competition in the U.S. Open Cup and working together to grow the game in Arizona.