With all that he is doing to continue the renaissance taking place in St. Petersburg, developer and music impresario Bill Edwards deserved a more respectful response from Rick Kriseman’s administration after he asked for repairs to be made to the facility where Edwards’ Rowdies soccer club play their home games.
In a letter to the city and during conversations with reporters, Edwards outlined the issues he has with Al Lang Stadium. Among the complaints: broken seats, locker room flooding and mold issues.
According to Steve Nichols of Fox 13, it is the field that is Edwards’ main issue: soccer fields are flat, baseball fields are mounded, and Edwards contends switching back and forth just doesn’t work.
The end result is uneven, and potentially dangerous, especially if rainwater pools on the field.
“It’s just a bad situation when you have more injuries on a playing field than you do on other fields,” Edwards explained.
He has offered to make the field “laser flat” during a break between local matches next month, at a cost of about $130,000.
However, the proviso is no more baseball in an historic baseball facility.
Some in the local media framed Edwards’ demands as ‘Soccer or bust.’ However, it wasn’t the media’s reaction to Edwards that was the most surprising. It was St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Edwards would purchase the Rowdies only to threaten to move the team a few months later,” Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby said. “Due diligence on his part certainly would have revealed the challenges of playing at an aging structure like Al Lang Stadium.”
In non-spokesman terms, Kriseman essentially told Edwards that he should have done his homework before buying the soccer team and he can pound sand if he thinks the city should spend money to repair Al Lang.
The folks at Pottery Barn — home of the ‘You break it, you buy it’ mantra — could not have crafted a more inappropriate, condescending statement.
At this point, Edwards is arguably the most important private citizen in St. Pete. His right-hand man, former Mayor Rick Baker, is equally as important. Yet Kriseman has chosen a smart aleck response to a serious matter.