Owain Evans

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Beer factor: Phoenix Rising’s recipe for success includes hops, barley

SCOTTSDALE – To Phoenix Rising, beer means wins.

The team is a perfect 11-0-0 on Dollar Beer Nights, something that has drawn considerable attention.

The lesser heard story is that those Friday nights are just as much of a success off the field as they are on it. Since 2018, Rising averages almost 600 fans more per game compared to Saturdays. Both Dollar Beer Nights this year top the 2019 attendance list.

“The biggest success has just been the crowd and the atmosphere,” Sam Doerr, Rising’s VP of Marketing and Sales, said. “And I think that plays into the success.”

“It’s amazing,” Rising coach Rick Schantz said. “Their energy level … their desire to outwork the opponent. You know, when you think you can give 100 percent, you can always find a little bit more when you’ve got a big crowd.”

That crowd, along with the team’s form in recent weeks, was enough for captain Solomon Asante to correctly rule out any chance of a defeat against Tulsa.

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It also led to Rising doubling the number of Friday Dollar Beer Night games compared to last season, as the team noticed that despite sellouts year round, many fans were coming along just for those matches.

“So they just come to all the Friday nights where we’re thrilled,” Doerr said. “We get them for a third of the games. I think that’s why we amped up from three to six. We felt like three … they were just coming for that and they might not come back. Now, we’re hoping to get them on double the amount of games.

“Then of course, our goal is to get them kind of in that pipeline and get them out to every single game. We think the atmosphere and the crowd and the experience is great, not just on Friday nights, but every night.”

Is it any surprise the atmosphere is electric with dollar beers? On an average Friday, the team will sell more cans of Bud Light than tickets, with last week’s game setting a new record for cans sold.

The team did not release the amount of beers sold Friday but did report an attendance of 6,708.

“Overall, it’s a really good night of alcohol, liquor … obviously dollar beers are the No. 1 seller, but it’s not the only thing people are drinking on those nights,” Doerr added.

All that beer requires planning, especially for a stadium lacking in public transportation. According to Doerr, that’s where the team’s rideshare partnership and shuttles come into play.

“We do (Lyft) discount codes and those get used a ton on those nights,” he said. “And then we also have the free shuttle that we provide from bars. So even if you don’t want to go to the bar, you can take the shuttle as long as you show up when the shuttle leaves.”

When it all comes together, it creates an atmosphere rarely matched in the USL.

“The black jerseys that we wear, the T-shirts that we give out or whatever it might be and the theme of it all makes it a big event, right?” Doerr said. “There’s just a different buzz on those nights.”

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With tough games ahead, Phoenix will want that buzz to return. Its next Friday match is July 19 against Austin, a team that defeated Rising in Texas earlier this season.

“Weird things seem to happen on Friday nights,” Doerr said.

With the team’s perfect record, he definitely isn’t wrong. All Rising can hope for is that those weird things don’t stop happening any time soon.

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