TAMPA - From the familiar looking home jerseys all the way down to the gold and green striped socks, the new Tampa Bay Rowdies professional soccer club will look very much like the old.
The club, which begins its first season next month, unveiled its inaugural season uniforms, produced by Italian-design apparel company Lotto -- with modern technology while paying homage to the former Rowdies franchise that played in the old NASL.
Tampa Bay's new NASL entry's home uniforms will look much like the old Rowdies threads, with horizontal gold-and-green sleeves and socks of the same design. Away jerseys will also have a retro look, with the horizontal stripes throughout and green shorts.
"It's the identity of our team," team president Andrew Nestor said. "We wanted to make sure we had a unique look that's true to our brand. I think the custom design and the professionalism of it sends a signal to our fan base what kind of club we're going to be."
Lotto, which sponsors several international soccer clubs, including the Colombian and Costa Rican national teams, signed a three-year contract with the Rowdies.
"I saw the buzz on Facebook in the past 24 hours," Lotto brand focused representative Matthew Geer said. "People want to see the uniforms. It just shows the name and the legacy of the Rowdies. When you think of the NASL of the '70s and '80s you think of the Cosmos, the Strikers, the Rowdies."
The words "Tampa Bay" are across the chest of both jerseys, as well as the team shield over the upper left chest. A special inaugural season logo is over the right sleeve. All the custom features of the jersey, including the numbers, are subliminated into the thread, meaning there are no cumbersome patches or stitching.
"The colors and the stripes are obviously very important to us," Nestor said. "The shield took a long time to develop, the uniforms did not. We had a pretty clear idea from the start what we wanted these jerseys to look like. It was really a matter of finding the right partner who could make it happen for us."
The team won't debut the jerseys until the regular season opener, wearing training jerseys for their five preseason games.
Nestor said fans can preorder jerseys - and receive free shipping -- on the team's website (www.fctampabay.com) for $60 each. There will also be a preorder stand at Wednesday's friendly between the US and El Salvador at Raymond James.
The club also finalized its preseason schedule. Tampa Bay will open with a match with UT on March 6 at UT. It will then play FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union, both MLS clubs, on March 12 and March 19 at, respectively, at UT. The Rowdies will then play UCF at the Lake Myrtle Complex on March 36 and then close the preseason at USF.
The Rowdies will open their regular season April 16 in Baltimore. Their home opener is May 8 against Austin at Steinbrenner Field.