Rays-Rowdies deal: Concerts at Al Lang Stadium will expand in 2019

Fans watch Collective Soul performing at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg on July 11, 2018. (Jay Cridlin | Times)
Fans watch Collective Soul performing at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg on July 11, 2018. (Jay Cridlin | Times)
Published Oct. 2, 2018

The concerts will continue at Al Lang Stadium. Even more of them, actually.

In announcing Tuesday that the Rays are purchasing the Rowdies from St. Petersburg business and entertainment magnate Bill Edwards, officials on both sides said Edwards will continue booking live music at the Rowdies' city-owned home stadium, including an expanded slate of concerts in 2019 under the moniker "Al Lang Live."

"The whole goal is to get eight or 10 a year, maybe 11," said Edwards, whose company Big3 Entertainment also programs the adjacent Mahaffey Theater. "This is the most perfect place, Al Lang, to have a concert."

Edwards' management contract with the city has required him to book at least 10 nonsoccer events there throughout each year. This summer, he teamed up with promotions giant Live Nation on three outdoor concerts — Poison, 3 Doors Down and Counting Crows — that drew in total more than 15,000 fans to the soccer pitch at Al Lang. (A planned fourth, Lauryn Hill, was canceled due to production issues.)

Edwards said his group and Live Nation are already discussing possible Al Lang shows for 2019.

"They're a huge company, and they have all the great acts," he said. "We are so happy to have them in our theater and in our ballpark."

While the Rays will now assume management of Al Lang, they have contracted Edwards to continue booking shows there. The goal is "to keep bringing thousands and thousands of people here throughout the calendar year," said Matt Silverman, the Rays' president for baseball operations.

"I know he has big plans to grow the Al Lang Live concert series, and we'll be there to assist him along the way," Silverman said. "Together we're going to add a deeper slate of events and activities at Al Lang, and contribute even more to the vitality of downtown St. Pete."

The Rays have their own history with live music, hosting postgame concerts at Tropicana Field for more than a decade until this year. But Joe Jimenez, managing director of the Edwards Group, which encompasses Big3, doesn't anticipate getting involved with reviving live music there. Midsize, boutique spaces like Al Lang have in recent years grown more enticing to national promoters, and it's a venue size the Tampa Bay area has long lacked.

"This is the pocket: 4,000 to 7,000 (fans), intimate, up close, downtown, with this as a backdrop," said Jimenez said, gesturing to St. Petersburg's sunny South Yacht Basin out the window. "The people that went to the shows, the reviews, were just incredible."

Contact Jay Cridlin at or (727) 893-8336.
Follow @JayCridlin.