The Phoenix Rising football team wants the school district to lower the rental price for the abandoned Tonalea Elementary School site.
An appraisal commissioned by officials from the Scottsdale Unified School District had recently valued the 10-acre site near 68th and Oak Streets at around $ 7.9 million with an annual rental value of $ 320,000.
Phoenix Rising co-owner Tim Riester believes these ratings are only appropriate if a business developer wants to put apartments or houses on the site.
âFor those kinds of numbers to work, a developer would have to put a tower in them,â Riester said. “These are commercial numbers.”
The school administration contacted several agencies to assess the site, but due to the boom in the real estate market, only one agency actually carried out the work.
It would cost three to four times less to rent two lighted fields from the city – and the city would do all the maintenance, Riester said.
So Phoenix Rising is hiring a few rating companies to visit the site and see if they can come up with a cheaper number.
âWe are not trying to build apartments or houses; we keep the space open, âRiester said.
Phoenix Rising wants to rent the site for its youth soccer league program.
He proposed to make $ 3-4 million in improvements to the site, including the creation of two lighted football fields, the redevelopment of the existing building on the site as a community center, the creation of an administrative office for the football for young people, the development of 100 parking spaces and the landscaping of the perimeter. The upgrades would also include a walking track and a playground.
Phoenix Rising is Arizona’s top professional soccer team and plays in the USL Championship League, which has teams in the United States and Canada.
âThe good news is that everyone is working together to do the right thing, we just need enough data to get the process going,â Riester said.
The team’s youth soccer league began four years ago and has approximately 9,000 athletes.
In a meeting with the SUSD board last month, Riester proposed a partnership with the district that goes beyond football.
He suggested involving foreign language athletes in Scottsdale Unified foreign language classes and having some of the team’s sports coaches work with some of the district physical education teachers. He also suggested bringing students to the facility as part of field trips.
Allowing students to use the facility for field days when the team is not using it is also a possibility.
SUSD Board Member Jann-Michael Greenberg and Vice President Julie Cieniawski expressed their support for the project at this meeting.
âI would also like to express my enthusiasm to improve this property, to make it useful, functional for the community around it,â said Cieniawski. âAnyone who has driven by this property can see that it is a long-standing horror in our district. So, I appreciate giving pride to this community.
In May, a large group of residents expressed their opposition to the project at a community town hall.
Some were skeptical of the benefits to the community, as most of the local children currently play in non-Rising leagues and because the predominantly elderly population of the neighborhood would not benefit from the pitches.
Riester said at the time that the organization would “absolutely” do outreach activities to increase local enrollment in its programs if Tonalea’s proposal was accepted.
While some residents questioned whether this awareness would be effective or not, some were interested in enrolling their children in a team if Rising took control of the site.
Some neighbors were also concerned that noise and light would spread to neighboring homes during evening activities. The team said the lights would be on until 9:30 p.m. most evenings.
âWe have a very passionate community that has been here for a very, very long time, and we don’t want this to change our neighborhood with crowds and garbage and lights,â said a neighbor.
Riester said the Rising youth organization does not use public address systems during practices or games and said it will use new directional LED lighting technology that limits fallout on neighbors.
Neighbors also feared that the new fields would further exacerbate the growing parking and traffic problems in the area that have resulted from an influx of apartments built in the area in recent years.
The organization said it will maintain the site’s 100 parking spaces and is also exploring the potential for on-street parking.
Even with that opposition, a poll of meeting attendees and those watching online showed a majority backing the proposal.
Out of 232 votes cast, 140 indicated that they would like to see the neighborhood move forward with the project. Of the remaining 86 voted no and six were undecided.