Our own Tampa Bay Rowdies are on the cusp of a major win. At the end of 2017, Major League Soccer will decide who makes the cut for the next MLS Expansion. As current frontrunners, the Rowdies are favorites to take their place alongside cities like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Orlando. Their mission critical? Getting St. Pete residents on board for #MLS2STPETE. It’s working. With a winning streak under their belts, the Rowdies are poised and ready to strike, with just one element in the air – their stadium. Al Lang Stadium, a staple of Beach Drive, was originally constructed as a spring training facility for Major League Baseball. Since 2011, it has been home to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. However, in its bid for Major League status, the Rowdies will need to show that they can capture both a larger home-base audience and the support to make a stadium in line with MLS status.
In May, the residents of St. Pete rallied around the green and gold and overwhelmingly voted to allow the Tampa Bay Rowdies an extensive lease (25 years) on Al Lang Stadium. This is exciting news for the entire city of St. Petersburg, and especially for Beach Drive, which continues to thrive as a cultural hub of St. Petersburg. Cemented community support now opens the door for the Rowdies to set a drastic redevelopment plan in place for the stadium.
The proposed improvements to the stadium are impressive in scale. The redesign will play off of beauty of it’s Beach Drive location, playing with elements both natural and constructed. Taking inspiration from the marina, water, and sailboats within the bay, the new stadium’s main canopy will flow much like sails in the wind, while at the same time providing ample shade for spectators. The concourses and walkways leading up to the stadium will mimic the ebbs and flows of the waves in our beloved Tampa Bay.
Most importantly, the proposed build will ensure a world-class soccer experience in the heart of St. Petersburg’s most notable hub. The open-air concept will allow the Rowdies’ green and gold major league visibility and give spectators a waterfront view unrivaled by stadiums around the country. The design will complement neighboring attractions such as the Mahaffey Theater and the Dali Museum, tying together the southern end of Beach Drive. We are already looking forward to seeing some of our favorite existing events take shape in this new environment. The new Al Lang Stadium will help grow events like the Saturday Morning Market and the St. Pete Grand Prix, and make room for even more festivals, concerts, and sporting events. The plan hinges on the Rowdies clinching MLS status. Support the Rowdies and their #MLS2STPETE campaign by buying game tickets here.