The Tampa Bay Rowdies have taken a major step towards bringing a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to Tampa Bay after St. Petersburg voters approved expansion of the Al Lang Stadium.
An overwhelming majority of residents of St. Petersburg came out in support of #MLS2StPete and approved the referendum with an 87% majority.
The vote now means the City Council has the authority to negotiate a long-term use agreement for Al Lang Stadium.
Rowdies Chairman & CEO Bill Edwards said:
I am grateful to the citizens of St. Petersburg for passing this important referendum. St. Petersburg is very protective of our incredibly valuable waterfront – as is appropriate.
We have put together a stadium plan that enhances our downtown, is of a scale that is respectful to our waterfront and does not burden the taxpayers.
The use agreement would allow Al Lang Stadium’s primary purpose to be the home field for a potential MLS team.
The $80 million renovation and expansion will be privately funded and is contingent on being awarded an MLS franchise. Edwards added:
This vote is clear confirmation that St. Petersburg wants and is ready for Major League Soccer. I want to specifically thank the City Administration and Council, the Chamber’s Rowdies Council and all of those Rowdies fans throughout our region who support this great effort.
The Rowdies hosted a Victory Party at Al Lang Stadium after the vote, with hundreds of fans showing up to celebrate another historic moment in Rowdies history.
City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said:
In approving this referendum, voters have not only expressed their support for a longer term agreement at Al Lang Stadium, but have sent a strong message that St. Pete and the entire region are excited about the prospect of the Rowdies joining MLS. The Rowdies’ future in the Sunshine City has never been brighter.
After the results were made public, The Edwards Group President and former City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker took the stage to celebrate the victory. He said:
Today is a great day for St. Pete and Rowdies soccer. The loud and clear message is that our city and region are enthused and ready for Major League Soccer.
Image courtesy of Franksgiving