Hillsborough County should approve a proposal today by the Tampa Bay Rowdies to build a professional soccer stadium. The project is good for taxpayers and the entire region.
The stadium, at the corner of the Veterans Expressway and Waters Avenue, in northwest Hillsborough, would be home to the new, first-division franchise of the United Soccer Leagues for its opening season in April 2010. The development would be a positive one in these hard economic times. The Rowdies do not seek a handout — the stadium would be privately financed — but only a waiver from overly burdensome parking requirements.
Some homeowners a half-mile away object and say the stadium would generate noise, traffic and other nuisances. Those concerns seem overblown. The stadium site is already an industrial area. The Rowdies have made plans to limit noise, traffic and lighting. The stadium would be buffered by the Veterans, and game times — weekend nights — would attract cars at off-peak hours. It helps to put the stadium size in context. At 5,000 seats, less than half the capacity of Legends Field, the venue would compare in scale to a glorified high school football stadium.
The site is appropriate, and the venue would be an asset for the region. Residents, especially those near the Hillsborough-Pasco border, would have access to family-friendly entertainment at the professional level and at an affordable price. The team would create jobs and add millions to the tax rolls. The Rowdies were good corporate citizens in their earlier days and there is every reason to believe the new owners will continue that legacy.