Bill Edwards surprise heart surgery hasn't dimmed Tampa Bay Rowdies owner's hopes for MLS franchise in St. Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Edwards is on the mend.
The 72-year-old owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies had a health scare last month when he traveled to Ohio to have a pacemaker installed. Doctors ended up performing a double bypass surgery.
Edwards is recovering at home in St. Petersburg, keeping track of his business affairs.
“It’ll take two or three months to get back to 100 percent,” Edwards said. “But I’m trying to get better as quickly as possible."
The May 5 surgery at the Cleveland Clinic went well, Edwards said, and he hasn’t lost his zest to bring a Major League Soccer expansion franchise to St. Petersburg.
San Diego’s recent apparent implosion is the latest good news for the Rowdies’ chances, he said. The San Diego City Council voted on June 5 to eliminate $5 million in funding that would have paid for a special election to let voters decide whether to approve its SoccerCity plans. The mayor has promised to veto that decision, so the fight's not over yet. Meanwhile poll numbers show mediocre support for an MLS team in a city that just lost its NFL team, the Chargers.
“It certainly helps us move up the ladder," Edwards said. "We don’t have those problems,”
Then on June 6 came news out of Miami that David Beckham’s group had secured the final piece of the land puzzle to build an MLS stadium. That didn’t faze the Rowdies owner, either.
In a May referendum, St. Petersburg residents overwhelmingly approved a plan for the Rowdies to negotiate with the city to expand Al Lang Stadium to 18,000 seats and secure a long-term lease for the club if selected by MLS for an expansion franchise.
The league is expected to announce four expansion cities in the next year or so with two slots picked by the end of the year.