Starting this weekend, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will be expanding the number of fans allowed into Al Lang on gamedays — but not by much.
The club plans on hosting around 275 fans inside the stadium for each of its two home matches in August. This Sunday the Rowdies host Miami FC and then Atlanta United 2 next Saturday.
“I think the main focus right now is to at least ensure we can get season ticket holders at least one game in 2020,” Rowdies President Lee Cohen said.
With the restart in mid-July, the Rowdies focused on keeping the crowd extremely limited. Only family and friends of players and a select few members of the supporters groups Raplh’s Mob and The Skyway Casuals were permitted inside for games. Attendance for the three July games was a little under 150. At full capacity, Al Lang can hold around 7,500.
Now the hope is to have about 150 total season ticket holders at each game, on top of the group made up of family and friends of players and members of the supporters groups. There’s obviously expected to be some overlap since some season ticket holders are members of either Ralph’s Mob or the Skyway Casuals.
Initially, the aim was to possibly open up Al Lang to around 1,000 fans after July, but only if it seemed feasible and safe based on the COVID-19 numbers. Now that we’re actually in August, it’s become clear that keeping attendance extremely limited is the more prudent option.
All the health and saftey protocols that were in place for July’s matches will remain in place. Tailgating in the Al Lang parking lot is still prohibited. Masks are still mandatory for everyone entering unless they are seated in their designated seats.
“It seems to be very positive,” Cohen said of the city’s response to how the Rowdies have managed the restart. “The person that I spoke with about our initial plan to kinda open the stadium back up for the games in July, we got a lot of support for the plan that we put in place. It was a very good plan. And then we notified them that we’re gonna be expanding up to that 275 number and then we’ll take it from there and see what the next steps are, if we want to grow into that. But I think the focus right now in that next phase is how to start getting a limited number of season ticket holders in while we progress through this.”
Photo by Matt May/Tampa Bay Rowdies