The Rowdies are drawing several thousand fans with a sub-par facility. A more suitable one would bring more fans and, possibly, a step up to a Major League Soccer franchise that could add thousands of more fans filling the pubs and restaurants near Al Lang....Baseball at Al Lang appears to have run its course. And by every indication, the Tampa Bay Rays are destined to go down in history as the team that left St. Petersburg. To fill that void, professional soccer just might be the ticket.The stance is baffling.
It was less than a year ago that the Trib blamed poor Rays attendance on the lack of a "centrally located stadium, such as downtown Tampa." So if St. Petersburg is a bad place for a pro baseball team, why is it a good place for a pro soccer team?
It certainly has nothing to do with demographics, since only 8% of Pinellas County is Hispanic, versus 25% of Hillsborough County.
Then again, maybe the better question is, if a few thousand attending a Rowdies game at Al Lang proves downtown St. Pete is a good place for a team, why isn't it a good place for the Rays?
The hypocrisy is glaring; if what the Trib says about the Rowdies is true - that they simply need some state money and a rebuilt stadium, then why would the editorial board "like to see the Rays move to Hillsborough, particularly downtown Tampa?"
And, while we're on the topic of that state money, the same editorial board wrote this spring that the increased stadium subsidies made sense because "successful teams generate sales tax revenue and attract overnight visitors who pay bed taxes." Well, let's not kid ourselves that the NASL - or even an 18,000-seat MLS stadium - attract a lot of overnight visitors....and the Trib shouldn't kid itself either.
This week's editorial makes one last contradiction with a penultimate paragraph that stresses time is short on making decisions about soccer, then following it up with this closing argument:
Baseball at Al Lang appears to have run its course. And by every indication, the Tampa Bay Rays are destined to go down in history as the team that left St. Petersburg. To fill that void, professional soccer just might be the ticket.So in conclusion, the Trib thinks downtown St. Pete is too remote of a location for pro baseball and the Rays, who have a contract at the Trop through 2027, may one day leave. Therefore, the state and county should help build a 18,000-seat soccer stadium in downtown St. Pete to fill the void of a team drawing a disappointing 18,000 fans a game.