Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tampa Bay Rowdies

The new Rowdies started playing again in 2010 as FC Tampa Bay. The club got the rights to the NASL club's name and rebranded. After the club won a Soccer Bowl in 2012, the team continued to build as a club, and as a presence in Tampa Bay. With new owners adding seats along the sideline at Al Lang Field, the club could now seat 10,000 fans of the team. This was only the start. In 2015 and 2016, the club won back to back Soccer Bowls on the shoulders of strong free agent signings. The team could hardly hold the fans. The team needed a bigger stadium to fit the new supporters. After losing the Rays to Tampa in 2015, the city wanted to work with the Rowdies to ensure the club's future was in Pinellas County. A new 15,000 seat soccer specific stadium was in the plans for a renovated waterfront district. The stadium rand the same way as the field currently does, but renovated it for a rectangular field only. This left the great view of the water open at one section of the stadium, while packing 15,000 supporters around the other 80% of the field. For two years, the Rowdies played in places around the Bay, not settling in too long. The club's new stadium didn't mean immediate success on the field. Bitter rivals New York Cosmos won 2 of the next 4 championships. After one overachieving team snuck into the Soccer Bowl in 2023, the Rowdies figured they couldn't compete the way US soccer was trending. They merged with the Tampa USL side, who did have a youth system, and started using that to work players up to the big time. The Rowdies had strong youth players from all around the area join the Rowdies academy. The team's free agent buying ways were slowly coming to an end. The first player though the system was a defender from Clearwater, who earned a NASL best XI honor in his rookie season. Orlando City offered a bigger contract, but the player chose to stay home and grow with the club.The team continued to add free agents from all over the world, US, and local area. The team made it to the 2027 Soccer Bowl final after 4 years of frustration, losing to Cleveland in PKs. The next year, the Rowdies lifted the trophy over Richmond. This team could easily transition to the Championship, provided they take care of business in League One. That story made me seem like a super homer. But this is my favorite team, and I really like their hooped look. I think the jerseys currently are perfect, I replaced the Rowdies' wordmark with Publix as a sponsor. I wanted to make a crest logo instead of just the word Rowdies, so I did a very simplistic design. Not too much to write home about!

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