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The Philadelphia Phoenix have arrived. At their Friday night home opener, Philly’s professional ultimate frisbee team trampled over the Tampa Bay Cannons, winning 21-16.
It was an appropriate grand entrance for the 2021 season, which sees the Phoenix playing inside their namesake city for the first time. Home field is now the South Philly Super Site, directly across the street from the sports complex.
Founded in 2013, the Phoenix is 1 of 22 teams in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), which runs June through August and culminates in a championship weekend.
After some heavy afternoon thunderstorms, the skies opened up to a beautiful spring evening, paving the way for hundreds of spectators to pack the stadium. Fans of all ages sat in classic bleacher benches, framed by the backdrop of Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
Showing off in front of the home crowd, the Phoenix played hard.
On the field, team director of operations and starting player Mike Arcata was lead scorer with three points. New player Nate Little, a Philadelphian, scored the last point of the game, among several other memorable plays.
Quick 101 on AUDL ultimate, which is kind of like a cross between soccer, basketball, and American football:
The game is played on a field that’s 80 yards long, bookended by 20-yard end zones. There are 7 players per team, and the point is to make a catch in the opposing team’s end zone.
You can’t run with the disc in hand — once you stop, you have to establish a pivot foot — so the frisbee must be passed from player to player. You also can’t hold onto the disc for more than 7 seconds.
Quarters are 12 minutes long, with a 15-minute halftime.
In South Philly, the June 4 halftime featured a mini ultimate game between Masterman School and Science Leadership Academy. The high school teams were pretty evenly matched, and they finished in a 1-1 tie.
For other kids in the stands, the Phoenix set up an activity space dubbed “The Nest.” It was stocked with puzzles, games, and coloring stations, and was monitored by Kelly Fleury, a local preschool educator.
Adults with the proclivity for beer could pick up cans from nearby Second District Brewing, and sandwiches were also available.
Sweettooths of all ages got to partake in custard from startup Poppa’s Custard — think the creme inside of your favorite donut — who passed out samples and sold jars throughout the night.
After the game, fans were invited to join the players at the Black Cat Tavern for drink and food specials.
The Phoenix host the New York Empire on June 11. Tickets ($12) are available online.