Except, the letter came with a not-so-subtle reminder that the team could always leave town if the stadium situation isn't improved. At first blush, it appeared the non-threat threat was aimed getting St. Pete to shape up.
But following Monday's drama in the Florida Senate over stadium subsidies, it seems more clear the threat was instead aimed at leveraging the Rowdies a piece of state subsidies, currently available only to teams from the "major" sports leagues:
According to Saint Petersblog, the fight has roots in a Latvala grudge with Sen. Jeff Brandes and his ally, former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker, who also works for Rowdies owner Bill Edwards. But it seems logical the Rowdies are making the case their stadium needs capital investment.Sen. Wilton Simpson brought up an amendment to the amendment — one that would add the North American Soccer League (the league that includes the Rowdies soccer club that plays in St. Petersburg) to the pool of potential beneficiaries eligible for state funding.
Sen. Latvala expressed his opposition to the amendment stating that he had not been given sufficient time to properly look it over. He also stated that he was unsure as to what the North American Soccer League was and whether it is classified as a “major league sports league.” Sen. Latvala voiced his opposition and encouraged the committee to vote against the amendment.
Following a vote, the amendment failed.
While the legislative fight may ultimately work itself out before the end of the session, lawmakers should still ask tough questions, like, could an NASL soccer team ever create millions of dollars in new economy?
Heck, even MLS teams have trouble making that claim with a straight face.