Residents of St. Petersburg voted in a Tuesday referendum to advance a proposal allowing the city to pursue an agreement solidifying the Al Lang Stadium site as the future home of a potential MLS expansion team. It passed by more than 20,000 votes, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Web site.
Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards has agreed to fund the MLS expansion fee and an $80 million, 18,000-fan stadium within the footprint of the existing site. The measure was supported by the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Following the final results, MLS issued the following statement on Tuesday night:
"We are pleased that the people of St. Petersburg support the Rowdies proposal to renovate Al Lang Stadium. Bill Edwards personally came to our offices in January to submit his expansion application and share his vision. With the passage of the stadium vote, we look forward to working with the Rowdies as they continue to pursue a Major League Soccer team for Tampa Bay."
St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay is one of 12 cities that submitted a bid for an MLS expansion team, and hosted a watch party for Tuesday's vote. MLS plans to announce its next two expansion teams later this year, with another pair to follow, bringing the eventual total to 28 clubs.