Tampa Bay Rowdies launch MLS expansion campaign

The USL franchise has announced its ambition to join MLS, with a privately financed stadium renovation proposed.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have thrown their hat in the ring for MLS expansion.

A month after the club departed the struggling NASL for the USL, Tampa Bay announced its ambition Tuesday to join MLS as an expansion franchise.

Branding its campaign as #MLS2StPete, the Rowdies released renderings of a privately financed renovation and expansion for Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.

"We are committed to expanding the world’s game right here in downtown St. Petersburg, and we feel strongly that joining Major League Soccer is the next logical step," Rowdies chairman and CEO Bill Edwards said in a news release. "We have met with MLS executives, including Commissioner Don Garber, and it is clear that they are looking at cities that have demonstrated their support for soccer via season ticket memberships, single game ticket sales and sponsorships."

The Rowdies, who have played in the lower levels of American soccer since 2010, are hoping to be a part of MLS' expansion to 28 clubs. Atlanta United and Minnesota United will kick off next season to bring the league to 22 clubs, with Los Angeles FC set to debut in 2018.

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