The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL have been sold to Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, the club announced Tuesday.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The sale is bittersweet,” said Rowdies owner Bill Edwards. “When I purchased the Rowdies, they were on the brink of bankruptcy; today they are Champions fighting for their rightful spot in the USL Playoffs.
“I saw the potential of the team, and what it could mean for downtown St. Petersburg. I invested my blood, sweat, tears and money, and built an amazing staff that I could not be more proud of. The Rowdies have made great strides, truly becoming a key fixture in the community,” Edwards said.
Edwards purchased the Rowdies in 2013, just one year after the club won the NASL Championship. Under Edwards’ ownership, the club saw a steady increase in average attendance, but the club struggled to replicate its on-field success of 2012.
The Rowdies did not qualify for the NASL playoffs from 2013-2016, but returned to the postseason in 2017, their inaugural year in the USL.
The sale to the Rays comes amidst speculation that the MLB franchise is interested in building a new baseball stadium on the site of the Rowdies’ Al Lang Stadium. However, the Rowdies indicate the club will “will continue to play matches” at their current home.
“We are committed to continuing the upward trajectory that the Rowdies have been experiencing under Bill’s visionary leadership,” said Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman. “The Tampa Bay Rowdies are a legendary soccer team, and we look forward to extending their legacy and prominence. We are eager to get to know Ralph’s Mob and all the Rowdies fans, to growing soccer in St. Petersburg and throughout Tampa Bay, and of course, bringing home a championship, which could be imminent!”
The Rays will take control of the Rowdies after the end of the 2018 season.
Any chance we we could see an Atlanta United types of situation in which the team builds a shared state of the art stadium and goes to MLS?
With fake turf? No thank you!
Fake turf has no place in football.
You are an odd cat Ivan.
I think this is probably the end of the Rowdies. I believe they bought this site solely for the location for an MLB stadium unless they share it.
Yeah, No question about…
St. Pete resident/Rowdies/Rays fan here…
A proposal to build a stadium for the Rays on that site was struck down years ago. Also, the city of St. Pete owns the stadium, the Rowdies just lease it. And, so far at least, the Rays have said that they don’t intend to move the Rowdies and they are still looking to build their new stadium in Tampa.
How funny would it be if they shut down the Rowdies and built a MLB stadium at Al Lang?
I wouldn’t put it past them…
Time will tell…while Al Lang is a beautiful venue, and it was adapted really well as a soccer stadium (and that view of the bay is something else), majority of the Rowdies fan base remains in Tampa, not St. Pete…that really remains the elephant in the room. For me personally, I live in North Tampa and the drive to Al Lang can be up to an hour in traffic. That prevents me from going to many games…I know a lot of other people are in the same boat…
I used to go to Mets and Cardinals spring training there in ’86 and ’87. Back then it was newly renovated and the facilities were first class at the time. IMO, it’s too small a footprint to build a 40K stadium for baseball. OTOH, the Rowdies MLS expansion plan was pretty cool. It would have made Al Lang 15-20K and could fit on the site.