If you have listened to my latest show on the Feuerstein’s Fire Podcast, you heard former MLS Talk Podcast host & writer Kartik Krishnaiyer discuss about the positives that are being done in the Tampa Bay area. There is no question that professional soccer has grown in the Central West end of the State of Florida and people were hungry once the Tampa Bay Mutiny was contracted from Major League Soccer.
Ever since this new version of the Tampa Bay Rowdies has returned in the USL Conference and will move to the NASL next year, the people of Tampa Bay were very excited to get their new season underway. But while their ownership group is committed to make this product a winning one, there has been a bit of a stumbling block when it comes to building their own stadium. But for the time being they are using the spring training home of the New York Yankees and the home of their Single A affiliate of the Florida State League, Tampa Yankees.
Amazingly the use of this facility was given permission by and also a member of the ownership group is Hank Steinbrenner. That baseball family who owns the 27time Baseball champion New York Yankees has allowed this new version of the Rowdies to use the stadium named after his father George Steinbrenner and so far the returns have been extremely positive.
The club sold out their home opener against the Austin Aztex & of course the Floridian Derby has resurfaced this time against Miami FC. That has been another success with the NASL as they have tried to find a way to make the game exciting again within the state of Florida which has been missing it for a good while.
Kartik was interviewed by Nick Murray from the Tampa Tribune and inquired about if this is what he and the NASL we’re expecting from the Tampa Community. “Yes. I’m a believer.” Said Krishnaiyer, “and this goes back to my background covering the sport, that Tampa is one of the best soccer markets in the United States, I’ve always felt that way. Youth Soccer is stronger here than just about anywhere else in the country and the interest in the sport internationally and in the old NASL is stronger in the Tampa Bay Area than just about anywhere else in the country.”
Krishnaiyer has also mentioned that the former players of the original NASL Rowdies have remained in the Tampa Bay area to help out with the youth game and let’s not forget that old NASL rivalry between the original Rowdies and the New York Cosmos was in fact the best during that era. I have always felt bad for the Tampa Bay area when the Mutiny were contracted from Major League Soccer.
In the early years of MLS I traveled to Tampa and saw the MetroStars play on the road against the Mutiny. The Old Sombrero as Chris Berman called it was filled as the local fans came to see their side play. Dedicated supporters chanting and singing for their side, but when Raymond James Stadium was built as a new home for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you had a funny feeling that the game was going to get pushed out. But these are happier times for soccer fans in the Tampa Bay area.
The return of the Rowdies has become a celebration and hopefully down the road they will get a new stadium and if this success continues throughout the years then there could be a possible form of promotion to MLS. But for right now, let’s sit back, relax and enjoy the fun.