1. News

St. Petersburg City Council gives developer Bill Edwards control of Al Lang Stadium

Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards’ deal with St. Petersburg ends a lawsuit he filed over stadium conditions.
Published Oct. 3, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — It's official. Starting today, businessman Bill Edwards will take over management of Al Lang Stadium, the home turf for his soccer team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Edwards has pledged to spend $1.5 million to fix up the aging downtown stadium and will control the facility for the next four years in a deal the City Council approved 7-1 on Thursday.

"I came to the conclusion this is overwhelmingly a win-win-win," said council member Darden Rice, following remarks by some lamenting the end of baseball at the storied stadium. "I think this is a new day for the city. That death kind of happened a while ago.

"Soccer is alive and kicking."

Edwards has been trying for months to wrest control of Al Lang from the city's current management contractor, the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission, which he has long criticized because of conditions at the facility.

The deal calls for the baseball commission to continue to manage the city's Walter Fuller sports complex.

Edwards has accused the commission of mismanagement and said baseball's presence at Al Lang is hurting the Rowdies. He sued the commission earlier this year.

The new management deal ends the lawsuit, which was important to the city, said Joe Zeoli, who is in charge of downtown enterprise facilities.

While the deal itself was public, the settlement of the lawsuit will remain secret. That has irked some council members.

"Why is this confidential if these are two public assets?" council member Wengay Newton said.

Council member Steve Kornell said he understands the reasons for secret settlements, but doesn't like it.

"Frankly, I just find it laughable that we got this on Monday, and if we don't do it (now) it's going to cause business disruption," Kornell said of the deal, which was proposed, then scrapped, then revived over the past few weeks. "I understand it, I just don't like it. I think if people want to do business with the city it's not a private deal. I appreciate everyone involved in this, I'm just not there yet."

Kornell also wants assurance the Saturday Morning Market, which operates in the stadium's parking lot, would be protected.

Zeoli assured the council that while the city will give up some parking revenue to Edwards under the deal, the city will still control and manage the lot. The city currently makes about $20,000 a year from that. Given that Edwards is putting so much more into capital improvements, officials were fine with surrendering that money, Zeoli said.

The baseball commission also asked the city to continue giving it a $200,000 annual subsidy even though it will be managing one less facility, and the city agreed, Zeoli said.

While the majority of the council seemed comfortable with the deal, some people inside the council chambers on Thursday were not.

Developer Dan Harvey encouraged council members to view the Al Lang deal as a short-term solution, and highlighted the importance of the ongoing waterfront plan, which is expected to give guidance about the future of the site.

Community activist Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter chastised the council for bowing to pressure from Edwards. She said she shares Kornell's concerns that the Saturday Morning Market could eventually find itself out of favor with whatever plans Edwards has for the stadium.

"I have sat here 20 years and watched you allow big business to manipulate us," she said. "Call it what it is. It's Rick Baker and Bill Edwards … why can't we all get along? Why do you have to go and do a back room deal?"

After the vote, Edwards said he was pleased. Soccer is here to stay, he said, and it is the norm for teams to control their stadiums. He said he and the baseball commission have let "bygones be bygones."

He didn't go into details about all the improvements he plans to make but said a new scoreboard is definitely in order.

Baseball will continue to be remembered at the stadium, Edwards said, noting that what happens to the site after four years will be up to the waterfront master plan.

"I think it's going to be a great place for people to congregate," he said. "Citizens have a million and a half reasons they should be happy."

Contact Kameel Stanley at or (727) 893-8643. Follow @cornandpotatoes.


  1. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.
  2. Shawn Tye, left, applies fiberglass to a boat console as Dustin Pirko looks at Marchman Technical Education Center. Hernando’s business development manager says that in creating a technical school an effort would be made not to duplicate Marchman.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Larry Hoffman a Hillsborough County code enforcement officer, prepares to inspect a property that is currently uninhabitable in Brandon, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Code enforcement officers encounter an array of scenarios during a typical workday, including trashed homes, illegal building or dumping. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Lawrence Hoffman says that being able to defuse tense situations with angry homeowners is his best weapon.
  4. Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore is questioning why the county helps fund the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
    County Commissioner Mike Moore wonders what Pasco gets for its regional planning council dues. | C.T. Bowen
  5. Spectators peruse Beetles and buses at the 31st-annual Florida Bug Jam, held Nov. 9-10 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. Michele Miller
  6. Isabella Yosuico of Safety Harbor with some of the Mighty Tykes wrist and ankle bands she invted to help her son Isaac, who has Down Syndrome, and other children with weak muscles. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A product to help special needs kids leads to big loans, a lawsuit and a bungled bankruptcy
  7. 2 hours ago• Hillsborough
    Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. Courtesy of Lynn Cristina
    Please be gentle with your friends who have strong-willed daughters who sabotage the morning routine of getting dressed in the morning.
  8. Prominent Democrat Alex Sink is backing Kevin Beckner in the Democratic clerk of court primary against Doug Bakke.
    In a news release, Sink praised Beckner’s qualifications as a former county commissioner and financial planner.
  9. Hernando County Government Center
    Maus Nissan hopes to build Hernando County’s first Nissan dealership on Wiscon Road.
  10. Officers arrived and helped treat the wounded man. Then he was rushed to a hospital.