Al Lang Stadium

by JAKE NUTTING

With little time to spare, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have released their schedule for the reformatted USL Championship season that is set to restart next weekend. The Rowdies will kick off by hosting Atlanta United 2 on Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 pm.

For that opening match and the other two home fixtures (July 17 against North Carolina FC, July 31 Charleston Battery) scheduled for July the Rowdies will only allow a small number of guests into Al Lang. Families of players and some members of supporters groups The Skyway Casuals and Ralph’s Mob will make up the contigent of guests. The club is hoping to provide some form of home atmosphere for the players but is taking the health risks involved with hosting a match in the current environment seriously and will only be allowing between 50 and 100 people in for the match.

Wearing a mask will be mandatory for all guests except when seated in their designated seats and fans will be seated in accordance with proper social distancing guidelines. Fans placed in the midfield section will not be given access to seating or the concourse in the stadium bowl and vice versa. Guests will also be prohibited from watching the match from The Berm, Midfield Bar Rail or Bayshore Lounge areas inside Al Lang. Anyone not following the guidelines put forth by the club will be removed from the venue.

If July’s matches go well and the positive cases of COVID-19 in the community are not continuing to spike, the hope is for the Rowdies to host an increased number of fans in August, starting with their August 16 matchup against Miami FC. All of this is subject to change if the Rowdies or local officials see a need to pull back or change the implemented protocols.

In order to continue the season the USL Championship has broken the league up into 8 regionalized groups. The Rowdies will compete in Group H against Miami FC, Atlanta United 2 and the Charleston Battery. The Rowdies will also retain the 3 points from their 1-0 victory at New York Red Bulls II back in March.

12 of the club’s 15 schuedled regular season games will be played within the group, but the rest will be outside the group. Those opponents are North Carolina FC, Birmingham Legion FC, and Philadelphia Union II. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the single-elimnation postseason tournament that will start the secodn week of October.

All matches will be available through ESPN’s family of networks — either ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+. So far the Rowdies are only scheduled to be on ESPN2 on July 17 but the league’s ESPN schedule past July has not been solidified yet.

The full Rowdies scheudle can be viewed in the graphic below.

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