St. Petersburg reauthorizes the Rowdies’ lease to use Al Lang

Bill Edwards, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Jake Edwards, president of the (USL) United Soccer League, and Matt Silverman pose together following a news conference announcing the sale of the Rowdies to the Rays. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]
Bill Edwards, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Jake Edwards, president of the (USL) United Soccer League, and Matt Silverman pose together following a news conference announcing the sale of the Rowdies to the Rays. [DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published October 12

ST. PETERSBURG — City Council quickly approved the reauthorization of the Rowdies lease to Al Lang Stadium lease on Thursday, a necessary step to complete the Rays' purchase of the soccer team.

News of the sale broke Oct. 1. Thursday's expected move was one of the last remaining steps needed to seal the deal.

RELATED: The Rays are buying the Rowdies. What does it mean for Tampa Bay? 

Departing Rowdies owner Bill Edwards said that the agreement stipulates that only the Rowdies can play at Al Lang for the duration of the current contract, which runs through Nov. 30, 2020.

He also said his agreement with the Rays has a clause that the Rowdies play at Al Lang for at least the next five years.

City Council member Darden Rice confirmed Thursday that the deal promises that the Rowdies will continue to play in downtown St. Petersburg for another five years.

"This seems like a pretty straightforward contractual assignment," Rice said.

RELATED: Bill Edwards: Rowdies will stay in St. Petersburg "for at least five years" under deal with Rays 

Rays team president Matt Silverman has previously said the five-year commitment was not an issue and reiterated the Rowdies deal is "unrelated" to the team's plans to build a new baseball stadium in Ybor City that it hopes to open in 2023.

Council member Charlie Gerdes said he spoke to the city’s legal department and confirmed that all the terms and conditions of current Al Lang agreement remain in affect with the team’s new owners.

But there's still work to be done to fulfill the Ray's five-year pledge that the Rowdies will call St. Petersburg home. That's because the Al Lang lease itself expires in two years, and the Rays will have to work out a new deal with the city.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

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