Tampa’s first women’s professional soccer team could kick off its inaugural season at the Howard W. Blake High School stadium overlooking the Hillsborough River.
Mayor Jane Castor and other local leaders unveiled the plan at a news conference Wednesday morning at Armature Works, across the river from the proposed site.
The team — which still doesn’t have a name or players — will be part of the Super League, a women’s pro league launching next August.
The team will only play the first three to five seasons at the high school, until it can build a permanent stadium. The venue currently has 1,800 seats. The team wants to expand to 5,000 seats and make upgrades to the turf field, the locker rooms and more.
Christina Unkel, president of Super League Tampa Bay, did not say how much the improvements would cost, but said it would be a significant investment “in the millions.”
The team will foot the bill and no taxpayer money will be used.
“The spirit of competition is very strong in us — as we all know, we’re Champa Bay — but so is the spirit of community,” Unkel said.
The Hillsborough County School Board still needs to approve the plan. A proposal is on the agenda for the board’s Tuesday meeting.
Real estate mogul Darryl Shaw, Bern’s Steak House co-owner David Laxer and former BluePearl Pet Hospital chief information officer Jeff Fox announced in May that they had partnered to buy the local franchise.
The team appears to have its sights set on Ybor City for its permanent home.
In September, plans were filed to build a practice field in Ybor on a site owned by Shaw.
Shaw controls a vast network of real estate holdings in the neighborhood. He plans to build two massive mixed-use districts there — Gasworx, which will span 50 acres, and Ybor Harbor, which will come in at around 33 acres.
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When asked if a stadium could be built at either of those developments, Shaw said the team is open to all possibilities.
“The goal is to stay in the urban core center,” Unkel said.