Will Major League Soccer be coming back to the Bay area? The Tampa Bay Rowdies sure hope so.
- Tampa Bay Rowdies announce campaign to join Major League Soccer
- The campaign is being dubbed by the club with #MLS2StPete
- MLS is currently at 22 teams, including Orlando City Soccer
The team on Tuesday held a 6:15 p.m. announcement at The Birchwood, unveiling its #MLS2StPete campaign to drive local support to show Major League Soccer that the club is ready to be the league's next expansion team.
The campaign also includes a privately funded renovation and expansion plan for Al Lang Stadium.
"We are committed to expanding the world's game right here in downtown St. Petersburg, and we feel strongly that joining Major League Soccer is the next logical step," said Bill Edwards, chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. "We have met with MLS executives, including Commissioner Dan Garber, and it is clear that they are looking at cities that have demonstrated their support for soccer via season ticket memberships, single-game ticket sales and sponsorships."
The last MLS team to compete in the Bay area was the Tampa Bay Mutiny, which played from 1996 to 2001 before being dissolved. The team played its home games at both Tampa Stadium and Raymond James Stadium.
The team was owned and operated by MLS through its existence.
The Miami Fusion, the other Florida-based MLS team at the time, was also folded in 2002 by the league.
MLS is currently at 22 teams, and the league eventually plans to expand to 28 teams. Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC will be the league's 21st and 22nd teams, respectively, and both will begin play in 2017.
Additionally, MLS plans to add Los Angeles FC in 2018 and a Miami team, pending a finalized stadium plan.
Orlando City Soccer joined MLS in 2015 and just completed its second season. The Lions will begin playing in their new soccer stadium in 2017.
For more information about the campaign and to view more renderings of the proposed renovations to Al Lang Stadium, go to www.mls2StPete.com.