Rowdies' owner wants to expand Al Lang stadium

Tampa Bay Rowdies' owner Bill Edwards told FOX 13 News Thursday he is close to requesting funding to expand Al Lang Stadium. 

"I'm hoping it's on the front burner," Edwards said. "We're pretty close, I think we should start talking to the county shortly." 

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman confirmed the possibility of a stadium expansion. 

"Yeah, we're definitely having conversations," Kriseman told FOX 13 News, "There's some preliminary drawings that are very exciting.  I think soccer is a real big part of this community."

The drawings Kriseman referred to have been shared in closed-door meetings since late October, but Edwards declined to make them public at this point.  However, he did share the price tag and scope of the proposal. 

"With the whole thing, everything included, we're looking at about $70 million," Edwards said. "We can easily fit 18,500 seats total in here, we already have 7,000, so another 11,000 seats - we can build that in a year and be ready to go and have some suites and everything else." 

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The team owner said construction would not interfere with the Rowdies' home games, and he prefers to do the work in one phase rather than two.  "We turned away people in seven games last year, we filled it up and we had to send people away - I don't want to do that" he explained.

Edwards comments came after a news conference on a Rowdies Suncoast Invitational scheduled for next month.  Six Major League Soccer teams and the Rowdies will take part in eight matches during soccer's preseason training.  City and county officials heralded an initiative to make Pinellas county a mecca for MLS preseason training.  The effort started last year with the Philadelphia Union training in Clearwater.  This year, in addition to the Union, the D.C. United will also train in Clearwater, while the Montreal Impact hold a spring training camp at Al Lang. 

"Pinellas county now has an opportunity to become a destination spring training home for Major League Soccer" Mayor George Cretekos said.