Rowdies introduce Edwards as new owner

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A new era has arrived for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The Rowdies announced on Thursday afternoon that controlling interest of the club has been sold to multimillionaire entrepreneur Bill Edwards after five years of ownership by  Andrew Nestor and David Laxer.

“Why not soccer? It’s an incredible sport and attendance is due to rise in the next five years,” Edwards told reporters after the press conference. “I think in the future that we’ll make a wonderful 20,000-seat soccer waterfront stadium, but that’s a long-term goal.”

When Edwards was asked about potentially taking the Rowdies to Major League Soccer, he answered, “In the future that would make a long term goal, but I rather stay where we are.”

One of the first orders of business under the Edwards’ regime will be to re-sign head coach Ricky Hill and add new bench and club seats to the club’s home stadium. Previous owner Andrew Nestor will remain as club president while also performing general manager duties.

“I feel with the passion and resource that Bill Edwards brings to table, we can take this club to the next level,” Nestor told SBI. “He’s a very hands-on guy. We want to work on having a depth on the bench and with the increased budget, we will be able to achieve (that).

“We are still sorting things out. We will be doing an exhibition match with Orlando City like we did last year and working out other preseason agendas.”

Despite the ownership change, front office positions will stay the same. Edwards, however, did mention that dropping the Tampa Bay moniker and adding St. Petersburg is a possibility in the future.

Edwards is no stranger to changing the direction of a business. He successfully took over the struggling Mahaffey Theatre, which is located next to Al Lang Stadium.

“We need more seats, the stadium needs improvement,” said Edwards. “The budget will increase and that will give the flexibility we need.”

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What do you think of this development? Do you think the Rowdies can be a contender next year in the NASL? Can the Rowdies successfully renovate Al Lang Stadium? Do you see a 20,000 seat soccer-specific stadium happening?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Alex

    “Edwards, however, did mention that dropping the Tampa Bay moniker and adding St. Petersburg is a possibility in the future.”

    Big Mistake. Is he related to Hull City’s owner?


    • Sam

      I was just going to say this. The name has great historical significance in the history of American soccer! How on earth could he think of changing it?

      As for whether they’re a contender: definitely. They had some of the best play in the league this year, with Luke Mulholland a constant threat on the attack and Diego Restrepo putting in amazing performances in goal (how MLS hasn’t taken notice of either of them was a big question in my mind). I hope they can beat the pants off of Orlando!


      • No To Hull Tigers

        Long Island Cosmos.

        Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

        First impression is that this dude is well meaning. Hopefully someone will quietly pull him aside and talk to him, and he’ll decide to respect the tradition of one of the most important club names in American soccer history.


      • Aurora

        Um, Tampa hasn’t beat Orlando yet so what makes you think it will happen this time? LOL… Keep Dreaming Darlin’! GO CITY!!!!!!!!


  • Ivan

    Whatever you do, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT put artificial turf at Al Lang as I’ve heard the plan is.

    Football is meant to be played on real grass!

    Do not put plastic there!

    Go Rowdies! The Tampa Bay Rowdies!


    • Mike

      Andrew Nestor confirmed at the press conference that Al Lang will remain natural grass. No artificial turf.


      • Ivan

        Mike: I missed that part, thank you for the update! This is great news, of course.

        The new seating-1,100 seats placed at midfield- is a much needed improvement for the fan experience at the Rowdies’ games.


  • El Paso tx

    Did the old owner get depressed since Orlando and Miami are getting MLS and not them. Also, what happen to Tampa bay vsi and their stadium plans, why don’t they unite powers and bust a nycfc n Yankee move.
    But if they get a waterfront stadium in the NASL, that would be a good number of good stadiums for a second division.
    You got cosmos, rowdies, Indy eleven, Sacramento, San Antonio, and other NASL markets with stadium plans or primary stadium plans.
    Also, NASL needs to do the conference thing like MLS to succeed and help teams with travel. NASL can easily expand to 20 teams.


  • Dude

    they need to redo that hideos logo and get themselves a proper logo. gessh i get nistalgia but damm


  • No To Hull Tigers

    ” Thursday’s announcement also opened the door to a possible name change. Asked what he thought about the name “St. Pete Rowdies, ” Edwards responded “I think it sounds wonderful.” Later he told FOX 13 News changing the name would be easy, but declined to say whether he will do it.”


    …or, you could just be telling yourself he was kidding. I wouldn’t brush it aside so easily, given that it keeps coming up in interviews with him.


  • cosmojo

    Outsider view. Fun time around stadium
    Tampa rowdies are smack in the middle of st. petersburg.
    St pete rowdies makes sense.
    Go to game and see what I mean. Has to be st. pete.
    How have they gone this long without adding mid field seats.


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