Orlando will have a Major League Soccer franchise next year. Miami has an inside track for one. And cities across the country, from Minneapolis to San Antonio to Las Vegas, are eyeing one.
In the afterglow of a World Cup that captivated Americans, Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is also considering capitalizing on the wave of soccer enthusiasm. He has entertained the possibility that his team — playing in the second-tier North American Soccer League — can move up to the big time.
“I would not rule that out. St. Pete is the perfect place to have an MLS team,” Edwards said in a recent interview.
A previous MLS franchise in Tampa — the Tampa Bay Mutiny — folded in 2001, but the sports and cultural landscape has become much more favorable in the past decade, he said.
Still, a formidable range of obstacles stand between St. Petersburg and the premier U.S. soccer league. First and foremost: an adequate stadium, as the aging Al Lang wouldn’t meet major league standards.
For more on this story, visit Charlie Frago (The Tampa Bay Times).