Phoenix Rising FC sticking with Rick Schantz, expect to play at Wild Horse Pass in 2023

UPDATED: JULY 18, 2022 AT 5:29 PM
Arizona Sports

A new era has begun for Phoenix Rising FC.

The club announced the change of club governor last week, with original shareholder and Scottsdale resident Bill Kraus taking over for Turkish native Berke Bakay.

The primary reason for the change was that Bakay and his family moved to San Diego a couple of years ago and PRFC’s board of directors have always wanted the club governor to live locally.

“Burke has been a great leader for the club,” Kraus said Sunday. “That was his vision, his courage to pull the group together and form what is now Phoenix Rising.

“He’s a bold leader and he’s done a great job. … And as he and our board have talked, it became apparent to us that it was important for the club to have the governor live in-market and be able to easily attend and participate in a variety of different types of meetings and functions that happen in town where having a governor there is beneficial.”

However, despite the uncertainty of where Phoenix Rising will be playing in the future due to new property managers at Wild Horse Pass going back on previous agreements, Kraus expects PRFC to be playing at WHP in 2023.

“I know that’s a hot topic for folks. We’re hoping to be at Wild Horse Pass for many more seasons,” he said. “It’s a beautiful venue. I love the lawn behind the south end, the big scoreboard, paved parking lots, running water — big upgrades in that regard versus our prior venue.

“But I have to say we’re considering other options, we get inbound inquiries from others. We’ll listen to proposals and we need to keep our options open in case it ever becomes necessary for us to move again. But for now, we’d like to be at Wild Horse Pass for as long as possible. We like it there.”

Kraus also pumped the breaks on any managerial changes this season after the club’s last home match — a 2-2 draw that was rescued in stoppage time against Orange County — saw the south end chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rick and Bobby (Dulle) have got to go.”

“Rick is our head coach, we’re sticking with him,” Kraus said. “During his time as our head coach, he’s achieved one of the best records in the league and we feel like he’s earned the right to coach our team through this period. So we are backing him, maybe even providing him with additional resources. Rick is our guy.”

Phoenix Rising is currently in the worst form in club history having won only once since May 28 and twice since May 7.

PRFC’s form of 1W-1D-8L in its last 10 matches in all competitions has seen the club eliminated in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 and has Phoenix in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, with the team closer (five points) to the bottom of the table than the seventh and final playoff spot (seven points).

“Are we thrilled with where we are right now? No, we’re highly competitive people. We want to win,” Kraus explained. “So we’re constantly self-evaluating, we’re working on some improvements right now.

“I don’t have any announcements to make, but in years past, we’ve done some things late in the season and bring in talented guys like Damion Lowe a couple years ago. I think everything’s on the table. We’re going to try and get better. And we have not given up on the season or on Rick and we hope to get back to our winning ways.”