Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Raucous fans, smoke bombs disrupt Rowdies match against Orlando

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue crews responded Sunday to Al Lang Stadium after smoke bombs were set off.

Bay News 9

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue crews responded Sunday to Al Lang Stadium after smoke bombs were set off.

ST. PETERSBURG — Four men were arrested, 16 fans were ejected and smoke bombs were set off Sunday at a particularly raucous Tampa Bay Rowdies game.

The club blamed members of a group of Orlando City Soccer Club fans who arrived at Al Lang Stadium before the 6:30 p.m. game.

In a statement released on the club's Facebook page Monday, Rowdies owner Bill Edwards said local fans were intentionally moved away from Orlando fans and additional security guards and police officers were called in to monitor the situation.

"Despite these measures, certain members of the Orlando City SC supporters group engaged in disorderly behavior beyond acceptable limits," Edwards said in a statement.

Stadium staff put up bike racks between the groups in an effort to separate them, police spokesman Mike Puetz said. But as they tried to eject some fans who were trying to start fights, police met with resistance, Puetz said

Stephen Marva, 24, of Deltona was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. Puetz said he shoved an officer out of the way while trying to start a fight. Charles Tolman, 30, of Orlando was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. Puetz said he was trying to wave a flag in the opposing team's section and struck a police officer with the flag's pole when he was asked to stop.

Jimmy Galvez, 28, of Orlando was charged with disorderly intoxication. Police asked him to leave three times, Puetz said, but he sneaked back in after pretending to leave. Jared Ambrose, 24, of Clermont refused to move out of the way of officers and was charged with disorderly intoxication as well, Puetz said.

A widely circulated photo also showed what looks like a fire in the stands. Fire spokesman Lt. Steve Lawrence said a smoke bomb canister was set off during the game. No fire was reported, Lawrence said, and no one was injured. While smoke bombs are allowed at games, explosive fireworks are not.

Sunday's game was the second leg of the "I-4 Derby," a sort of cross-state rivalry except they're exhibition games — Orlando is in USL Pro, a league below the Rowdies' NASL. Orlando won the first leg of the derby at home, and on its website, the club invited fans to travel to St. Petersburg for the second leg.

"Entering hostile enemy territory to chant and sing for 90 minutes is an exhilarating experience, particularly with a chance to humiliate a local rival on the line," the club's website reads.

Soccer fans are notoriously enthusiastic, but Edwards praised Rowdies fans, particularly the team's independent fan club "Ralph's Mob," and said they work to foster a family environment.

"I hope that Orlando City SC can get control of this problem, and I look forward to meeting them once again when they do," Edwards' statement said.

Orlando City beat the Rowdies 3-2 to claim the I-4 Derby title.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Raucous fans, smoke bombs disrupt Rowdies match against Orlando 07/07/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2014 10:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo gallery: Florida High School Track & Field State Championships, May 6, 2017


    View a gallery of images from Saturday's Florida High School Track & Field State Championships in Bradenton.

    Jefferson High sprinters Eyekeyle Gardner, 17, left, and Kourtney Lawton, 15, compete in the Girls 2A 4x400 Meter relay during the FHSAA Track & Field Finals held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday, May 6, 2017.
  2. Police: 8 dead in Mississippi shooting, including deputy


    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — Authorities in Mississippi say a suspect is in custody after eight people were killed in a shooting, including a sheriff's deputy.

  3. Photos: 97X BBQ brings Grouplove, Coin, Milky Chance, more to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg


    Alternative rock fans got a jump start on Memorial Day partying on Saturday at the annual 97X BBQ, which brought Grouplove, Milky Chance, K. Flay, Coin and more to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. Kasamba Kokayi was there snapping photos; click the headline of this post for a slideshow.

    Grouplove performed at the 97X BBQ at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg on May 27, 2017.
  4. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  5. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.