Rowdies agree to stadium deal at Al Lang Stadium

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced today that the club signed a 4-year agreement keeping the Rowdies the primary tenant at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg starting with the 2013 season. Al Lang Stadium has been the home of the Rowdies for the 2011 and 2012 NASL seasons in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission.

“The Rowdies are an important part of the Tampa Bay community and are proud to be an integral part of St. Pete’s growing downtown landscape,” said Rowdies owner & president Andrew Nestor. “St. Pete has embraced the club and we will continue to build on the amazing stadium atmosphere at Al Lang.”

The Rowdies have seen a steady increase in season ticket sales and paid attendance since moving to Al Lang Stadium. Not only did the modern-day Rowdies have the highest total number of paid single game ticket sold in the 2012 season, but season tickets increased by 65% over the 2011 season. Also, on the field the Rowdies continue to climb the NASL standings finishing 3rd place in the 2011 regular season and currently holding onto 2nd place in 2012 standings. The Rowdies have arguably the best home field advantage having lost only once this season in league play at Al Lang Stadium.

The club has been fully embraced by the St. Petersburg community, and is proud to be a part of the vibrant, burgeoning downtown arts and entertainment district. The team is truly a Tampa Bay club with 42% of current season ticket holders from Hillsborough County and 53% of current season ticket holders from Pinellas County.

Heading into the 2013 season, more improvements will be made to a soccer-specific Al Lang Stadium to create a better fan experience. The most evident change will be a new field configuration with the pitch running North
to South. The Field Level Club will replace the East-side Beer Garden and will become a new club fan area for all games featuring exclusive in-game VIP hospitality, and the stadium will feature field-side seats right next to the
player benches. Sidelines will also be closer to the first row of seats creating better sight lines and enhancing the fan experience.

“I’m delighted with the news that the Rowdies will be still based at Al Lang,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “The atmosphere the fans have generated at Al Lang is unique and there is no other venue in this league that makes more noise than what Al Lang generates when fans get behind the players and I’m sure it gives the players an adrenaline boost that they need during matches. The players and our staff are excited to continue to play at Al Lang Stadium, as they have always been open to helping the Rowdies grow as a club.”

The Rowdies are Tampa Bay’s first-ever professional sports franchise and provide a one-of-a-kind gameday experience featuring top-level professional play. Since 2010, the Rowdies have featured players from over 10 different countries, and hosted a match against an English Premier League club.

The Rowdies always look to give back to the Tampa Bay community and have key sponsors throughout the Tampa Bay area including legacy partners like Mainsail Suites and Town & Country Hospital / Westchase Orthopedic from Hillsborough County, Great Bay Distributing, United World Soccer, and Buick / GMC from Pinellas County, and Wellspring Pharmaceutical based in Sarasota County. The club has constantly worked with many local St Petersburg establishments including Courigan’s Irish Pub, Crowley’s, Jonny Reno’s, and Midtown Sundries.

The Rowdies are excited to continue partnering with businesses in the St. Petersburg area, helping to foster further development of community programs and the city’s waterfront. “The Rowdies the shining green emerald in the jewel crown that is downtown St. Petersburg,” said SuperFan #1 Mark Ferrulo.

“St. Petersburg is excited to provide a home for the Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium for years to come,” said St. Petersburg’s Mayor Bill Foster. “The city and the team are already working on improvements to make Al Lang a great
stadium for both the players and the fans. And, with the support of the city and the St. Petersburg Sports Alliance, we are committed to join with the Rowdies to ensure the team’s success in St. Petersburg, both on and off the
field.”

The exciting developments for the Rowdies comes hand-in-hand with the continued growth of the North American Soccer League. In July 2012 the NASL announced that the league will welcome the New York Cosmos back to the NASL in 2013 and NASL will also debut a new competition format featuring two distinct annual tournaments and an annual Soccer Bowl championship game. A new Ottawa franchise will also join the NASL in 2014.

With a win at Fort Lauderdale against the Strikers on September 1, the Rowdies clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season, and look forward to welcoming fans to Al Lang Stadium for the club’s postseason run. The Rowdies last regular season home game will be on Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m., as they face the Carolina RailHawks.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.