St. Petersburg's Bill Edwards Group is now the principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Edwards' immediate plans include adding 1,100 seats to Al Lang Stadium.
That will bring the total number to seats to more than 7,000, but the potential for growth could be much larger.
"I think in the future, that would make a wonderful 20,000 seat stadium for soccer," Edwards told FOX 13 News. "Now, whether that happens or not is up to a lot of different factors, but that would be great way to start."
Former St. Petersburg mayor and current Edwards Group president Rick Baker is more cautious.
"Our objective is to get some more seats in, build a strong fan base, fill up the stadium, and we're not going to build new seats until we need new seats," Baker said.
The Rowdies became the stadium's main tenant after the Tampa Bay Rays built a new spring training facility in Charlotte County. Because it is almost within sight of Tropicana Field, where the Rays play their regular season games, no other major league franchise can use Al Lang.
It also lacks the adjoining practice fields and other amenities professional baseball use requires. That has led to speculation that the waterfront property occupied by the stadium could be put to better use, although demolishing a structure once used by Babe Ruth, among others, is a sensitive subject.
Thursday's announcement also opened the door to a possible name change. Asked what he thought about the name "St. Pete Rowdies, " Edwards responded "I think it sounds wonderful." Later he told FOX 13 News changing the name would be easy, but declined to say whether he will do it.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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