by JAKE NUTTING

The May 2 referendum to decide if St. Petersburg city officials can negotiate a new long-term use agreement for Al Lang Stadium with Tampa Bay Rowdies Owner Bill Edwards is drawing closer. Without a positive result in the special election, the Rowdies’ project to win an expansion spot into Major League Soccer could be derailed.

With the date rapidly approaching, The St. Pete Chamber PAC is taking action to spread the word about the referendum and the Rowdies’ project by hosting phone bank events over the next two weeks.

The group is organizing four phone banks at the Gulf Shore Bank at 965 Central Avenue in Downtown St. Petersburg on the following nights:

  • Tuesday, March 28th (6-9pm)
  • Wednesday, March 29th (6-9pm)
  • Tuesday, April 4th (6-9pm)
  • Wednesday, April 5th (6-9pm)

St. Pete Chamber PAC is seeking volunteers to make calls to potential voters in the city to encourage them to provide information and encourage a yes vote on the referendum. Those interested in learning more information or signing up to place calls can go the group’s event page.

It’s a critical stretch in the Rowdies’ campaign as the vote is now just over a month away. Voters will begin to receive mail-in ballots this week, and the deadline to register to vote in time for the special election is next Monday, April 3. Registered voters have until 5 p.m. on April 26 to request a ballot in the mail.

If the referendum passes, the Rowdies and the city would get to work negotiating a long-term use agreement for the stadium. Any deal reached would still need to approval from the City Council and would be void if the team’s efforts to join MLS are unsuccessful.

The ballot language on the May referendum states that the use agreement can not exceed 25 years, that the primary use of Al Lang will be hosting the Rowdies’ MLS team, and that no city money shall be used on the team’s $80 million plans to upgrade the stadium or the $150 million expansion fee required by MLS. Edwards has pledged that the stadium project and all other costs to move the team to MLS will be funded by the team.

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