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April 11 is Rowdies Day in St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete is recognizing the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ home opener this Saturday as Rowdies Day in St. Pete.

Mayor Rick Kriseman issued a proclamation ahead of the April 11 match at a City Council meeting Thursday.

“Please, everyone come out to the game,” Kriseman said.

The Rowdies won their first game on the road against the San Antonio Scorpions, 3-1. They did this with a team that includes 21 new players on a team of just 26.

“I think we can go undefeated,” said City Council member Steve Kornell.

His enthusiasm was met with a mix of excitement and pause – that’s a pretty tall order even for a promising team boasting not just a nearly brand new roster, but also a new coach and president.

Team President Farrukh Quraishi thanked the city for its role in making sure the Rowdies Stadium, historic Al Lang Stadium, got a much needed facelift and soccer retrofit.

“You and all the residents in the city will be incredibly pleased and proud to have such a wonderful facility that represents the City of St. Petersburg,” Quraishi said.

Quraishi showed a video showing a time lapse of improvements made to Al Lang, including new seats, a soccer-specific scoreboard to replace the previous baseball one, fresh paint in the festive Rowdies green and even renovated locker rooms.

In addition to stadium improvements, Rowdies owner Bill Edwards also purchased and renovated the former Midtown Sundries sports bar, making it into a Rowdies’ fan watering hole called Rowdies Den. He also purchased the McNulty Station parking garage so fans will have an additional 500 spaces to park.

Each council member got a snazzy new green and yellow Rowdies scarf and posed for a fun photo-op.

The team was left with one suggestion.

“How about Tampa-St. Pete,” Kornell asked, noting that the team’s Tampa Bay should be more St. Pete-centric. “I think St. Pete-Tampa sounds better.”

The Rowdies’ home opener on April 11 is against Minnesota United FC at 7:30 p.m. According to the club, the match is nearly sold out.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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