ST. PETERSBURG — In a deal that could help quell an ongoing dispute between the city and the new Tampa Bay Rowdies majority owner, Al Lang Stadium may get a new field.
City staffers are proposing a $250,000 renovation that would remove the field's existing sod and clay, refurbish the irrigation system and install new sod. The money would be taken from the downtown redevelopment fund.
The City Council will be asked to approve the deal next week, a city spokesman said.
Earlier this month, Rowdies majority owner and local businessman Bill Edwards said that the field was the worst in the North American Soccer League, and that more injuries occur there than any other field. If improvements were not made, he said he would consider moving the team.
At the time, Edwards offered more than $130,000 of his own money for the renovation — offered on the condition that the city stop hosting baseball games at the stadium.
The city rejected that offer.
The field became uneven after clay was put down for a baseball infield, then removed and replaced.
"Over the years, you add more clay and the height of that whole area is higher than the rest of the field," said Joe Zeoli, managing director of the City Development Administration.
Through a spokesperson, Edwards said he was glad that the city had decided "to meet professional soccer standards."
The city said it views the idea as a compromise, and has not considered removing baseball from the stadium.
The money the city proposes to use is taken from local property taxes, Zeoli said, and was not earmarked for any other projects. If approved, Zeoli said renovations would be finished by early July.
Weston Phippen can be reached at (727) 893-8321 or firstname.lastname@example.org