ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays are purchasing the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer club, as well as the team's control of Al Lang Stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront.
St. Pete City Councilman Charlie Gerdes confirmed meeting with Rays president Brian Auld Monday afternoon.
He said Auld told council members the plan to purchase the Rowdies was a business decision independent of the Rays search for a new stadium site.
The Rays indicated they share many of the same sponsors with the Rowdies and the decision to purchase just made sense.
TIMELINE: 10 years of the Rays' Stadium Saga
This news is both sudden and unexpected and will stir endless rumors about the future of both teams.
The Tampa Bay Rays announced in February their preference for a stadium in Tampa's Ybor City over St. Petersburg. But funding appears tough to come by in cash-strapped Hillsborough County.
The Rays unveiled their plans for an $892 million stadium in Ybor City in July but refused to close the door on a new St. Petersburg stadium. The Rowdies currently play on the site of the Rays' failed 2008 stadium bid on the waterfront.
10Investigates has reported how St. Petersburg and Pinellas County can likely offer the Rays significantly more construction money than Hillsborough County.
Calls to the Rays and Rowdies have not yet been returned, but the Rowdies had alerted media last week to a Tuesday morning press conference on an undisclosed topic.
"Mr. Edwards deserves much appreciation for remaking the Tampa Bay Rowdies and investing in Al Lang Stadium and our community," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Monday. "Similarly, the Tampa Bay Rays' leadership has remade their baseball organization and placed considerable emphasis on community engagement. I am confident that this is a positive development for all parties, the great fans of both teams, and the City of St. Petersburg."
HILLSBOROUGH COMMISSION CANDIDATES: Where they stand on a new Rays stadium
Neither Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn nor Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan was available Monday morning either.
10Investigates will continue to update this story.
Interactive Timeline: Tap here to see 10Investigates' coverage of the Rays' stadium saga
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