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Rowdies announce MLS expansion bid, stadium renovation and expansion


Though heavily predicted after the team’s move to the USL, the Tampa Bay Rowdies made official their plans to expand and renovate their stadium and earn an MLS expansion slot.

Rowdies president Bill Edwards officially launched his campaign on Tuesday to bring MLS soccer to St. Petersburg, FL by announcing a massive $80 million privately-funded expansion and renovation of the historic Al Lang Stadium. The proposal included renderings of the renovated stadium which would expand Al Lang’s current 7,227 seat capacity to 18,000.

Edwards stated that he has had preliminary discussions with MLS and commissioner Don Garber on a potential expansion bid and expects those conversations to continue in a January meeting with Garber. MLS confirmed these discussions and expressed interest in the Rowdies bid.

“Major League Soccer has met with Bill Edwards and is aware of the Rowdies’ campaign to bring an MLS expansion team to the Tampa/St. Petersburg market,” MLS executive vice president Dan Courtemanche said in a statement. “There is a rich tradition of professional soccer in the area dating back more than 40 years, and we are impressed with their vision and plans for a world-class soccer stadium on the downtown waterfront in St. Petersburg. We look forward to learning more about their plans in the coming months.”

Edwards also has the mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, on board.

“St. Pete is a major league city, and the mayor wants to work in partnership with Mr. Edwards to get MLS here,” mayoral spokesman Ben Kirby said. “But what we need people to do is let Mr. Edwards know we want MLS here, and let the commissioner know that we want an MLS team here. So everybody fire up your email.”

“The fans are the most important part,” Edwards added. “We need to get a lot of them on board because we want to expand the stadium.”


  1. Very cool design concept. Keeping the old stadium and not losing one of its coolest assets, the water view. Good luck Rowdies! Hope the fans support it and it happens.

  2. I live in North Tampa and it takes me close to an hour to go to downtown St. Pete and attend a Rowdies game. Hence, I only go to 2-3 games per season. Hillsborough County-Tampa-would be a much better fit for the team, but then there is the stadium issue (can’t find a stadium in Tampa, Ray Jay is too big and too expensive to rent-just ask the Mutiny).

    Al Lang, if expanded, would be an absolute gem of a stadium, and downtown St. Pete is gorgeous and vibrant place.

    Because of the stadium location, and the majority of the (potential) fan base residing in Tampa, it will be difficult for the Rowdies to draw beyond their hardcore fan base of 5,000-6,000 people, even with an MLS tag.

    This could be a repeat scenario of the Tampa Bay Rays that have had the worst attendance in MLB for years because of their location in St. Pete…

    Also, the owner (and king of St. Pete) Bill Edwards does have money, but does he have MLS money?

  3. I live two hours from Tampa and, in my opinion, having teams in Orlando and eventually Miami (cough, cough) is more than enough. And with Garber having basically pledged his first born so that Beckam can get his franchise up and running, it seems silly for the Rowdies to even bother having a go at this. Go to USL, that’s a good landing spot for you.


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