Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sports

Soccer lease for Plant City Stadium wins approval

Plant City commissioners on Monday approved a $10,000 per month lease to allow professional soccer at Plant City Stadium.

The agreement, which runs through August and possibly into September, enables VSI Tampa Bay FC to play this year's home games at the 6,700-seat facility at 1810 E Park Road, replacing baseball and softball.

The stadium was built as the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds, who left in 1997.

Since then, the city has turned to softball and baseball tournaments and other events to cover maintenance costs. Now, it says those fees aren't generating enough income and it wants a long-term tenant or buyer for both the stadium and adjacent Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex.

So far, one prospect has stepped forward: Big League Dreams USA, a California company that hosts youth tournaments and builds replica Major League Baseball ballparks. Officials started evaluating the company's proposal this week.

If the deal goes through, Plant City Stadium would revert to baseball. Last week, Temple Terrace-based VisionPro Sports Institute Inc. reconfigured the ball field for soccer, including adding bleachers to right-center field. The team's first home game is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos.

The accompanying rendering shows the reconfigured field.

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