Report: Rowdies owner Edwards selling stake in team

Bill Edwards, the Tampa Bay Rowdies owner since 2013, wants to sell team. Just how much a stake in the team was disputed.

After a Sports Business Journal report that the Rowdies, who will begin their second season in the USL after many seasons in the NASL, were being put up for sale, Edwards told the Tampa Bay Rowdies that he is simply selling a stake in the team that will raise the profile of the team in its bid for an MLS expansion team.

"We are looking to put together an ownership group and we have five or six groups talking to us right now," Edwards told the Times. "We are trying to take it to the next level, which is Major League Soccer. But it takes a lot of money to be in MLS. I don’t plan on walking away from anything. I’ve poured five years of my life into the Rowdies and look where they’ve come. Why would I walk away?"

The 72-year-old Edwards had double bypass heart surgery in May. He has since returned to work.

Edwards said his next step is to bolster his MLS bid by finding investors to form a larger ownership group. His statement is confirmation that he recognizes that he alone can't win an MLS expansion team for Tampa Bay. He told the Times he was seeking to put together as strong an ownership group as possible to play in the USL or seek an MLS expansion team.

Tampa Bay is not in the running for the 26th expansion slot -- Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento are the finalists -- but it still has hope of being in the running for the next two slots. MLS has not yet announced a timeline for the selection of these two teams that will take the league to 28 teams.

The Rowdies play in St. Petersburg's Al Lang Stadium, which would require $80 million in renovations to upgrade to MLS standards.

The current Rowdies began as FC Tampa Bay in the USSF D2 League in 2010. They were renamed the Rowdies in 2012 when they won the NASL title. The Rowdies' first season in the old NASL came in 1975 when they won the Soccer Bowl over the Portland Timbers.
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