There could be a referendum on the proposed Al Lang Stadium renovation, with St. Petersburg deciding as early as next spring on a deal with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Earlier this month, Rowdies owner Bill Edwards unveiled plans for a project to renovate Al Lang Stadium into an MLS-caliber facility. The privately-financed upgrade could yield an MLS squad, as the league recently confirmed that St. Petersburg is one of 10 finalists for future expansion.
In order for the renovations to move forward, however, the Rowdies must secure a long-term agreement with the City of St. Petersburg for use of the stadium site. St. Petersburg will need voter approval to move forward with negotiations, thus requiring a referendum.
At the beginning of the new year, St. Petersburg officials will weigh their options, including a possible spring vote. More from The Tampa Bay Times:
And Darden Rice is ready to help. The St. Petersburg City Council chairwoman has scheduled a Jan. 5 meeting to discuss scheduling a spring referendum that would authorize the city to negotiate a 20-year or more lease agreement with Rowdies owner Bill Edwards for the waterfront Al Lang Stadium.
Edwards current lease for Al Lang expires in 2018. The proposed new lease would be contingent on the Rowdies being selected as an MLS expansion team.
If council agrees, the referendum would take place in late April or early May. Edwards will reimburse the city for the estimated $250,000 cost of administering the special election, Rice said.
There are going to be two rounds of MLS expansion, starting with teams 25 and 26. Should the Rowdies leverage a successful bid for one of those spots, they could join the league by 2020. Teams 27 and 28 will be added at a later time.
Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies.