St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman raised the possibility of building an MLS-quality stadium at the current Tropicana Field site, but it doesn’t sound like MLS officials or Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards are backing the plan — yet.
Kriseman, who has been working with the Tampa Bay Rays on a replacement for Tropicana Field — either at the current stadium site or elsewhere in the city — raised the notion of a new MLS-quality stadium that could host international tournaments, high-profile friendlies and other big matches, as well as potentially hosting the Rowdies as well. He also specifically mentioned that he talked about the idea with MLS officials.
And while MLS officials may have listened to the idea, they are not altogether onboard with the plan. First, the expansion application from Edwards specified an expanded Al Lang Stadium as home to the team, and St. Petersburg voters have already approved the idea of expanding the historic waterfront stadium, with the team committing to a 25-year lease and an $80-million expansion to 18,000 seats. From tampabay.com:
Rowdies owner Bill Edwards said in a statement that its current downtown home, Al Lang Stadium, was the site “submitted to MLS and voted on by the citizens of St. Petersburg … I never considered the Tropicana Field site as I support the Rays redeveloping and remaining at that location.”…
The MLS response was a little more nuanced. League spokesman Dan Courtemanche sent out a statement that said the league remains interested in Al Lang:
“To be clear, we are not interested in Tropicana Field as the primary home for the Rowdies if Tampa-St. Petersburg is granted an MLS expansion team in the future.”
But he said say MLS is “open to evaluating other locations in the area that could be home to a soccer-specific stadium.”
That does, of course, leaves the door open to building a new MLS stadium at the Tropicana Field site instead of Al Lang Stadium — as far as MLS is concerned.
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