• Search by team or stadium name:

Buy the latest issue of Stadium Journey Magazine - Subscribe Today!

Stadium Journey Sports Magazine Subscriptions

Al Lang Stadium

St. Petersburg, FL

Home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies

4.3

4.5

Al Lang Stadium (map it)
230 1st St SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701


Tampa Bay Rowdies website

Al Lang Stadium website

Year Opened: 1947

Capacity: 7,227

There are no tickets available at this time.

Reviews

Local Information

Share
this

No Longer Just a Kick in the Grass

The Rowdies are officially back! After living with the moniker of "FC Tampa Bay" from their inception in 2009 (play didn't begin for them until 2010) until late 2011, the team re-secured the rights to the heralded name and are now free to be the direct descendents of their long-lost brethren from the '70s, '80s and early '90s. If you're unfamiliar, you can read about their history by clicking on the "Crowd Reviews" tab just below the headlining picture.

While the Rowdies of old were amongst the best in North America, playing in the original incarnation of the top-flight league the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, the North American Soccer League, these Rowdies are right now in the second-level on the North American Soccer Pyramid, albeit in the reincarnated NASL. However, don't let the level on the food chain (so to speak) fool you; this team has the loyal following, skill, and locale necessary to make the big show (like the Montreal Impact did in 2012) of Major League Soccer one day. And though Al Lang is a very competent facility in arguably one of the best settings in America, to make that jump to MLS, the team needs a new, purpose-built facility. Remember: Al Lang Stadium is still a spring training facility first.

Don't let that steer you away, though, because this is still a team that is one of the best in its class playing in one of the most historic facilities in the United States in one of the best downtowns in the Southeast.

4.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

There are plenty of locations in the park for food, and while the food's your typical ballpark fare (hot dogs, chicken fingers, hamburgers), not a single regular item on the menu is over $5. Not one - not even beer, where the specials are Coronas bottles, Bud draughts, and even Bud Light Limeritas are all only $5. Depending on what you get, it might even be cheaper to eat here than some of the restaurants downtown. The only thing over $5 is the $7 cheesesteak, which is pretty much the going rate for a cheesesteak at a pizza place anyway.

The lone point off is for bottled water. Fountain drinks and even bottled 20 oz Powerades were all $3, but smaller bottles of water were $4. Either their supplier is taking them to the cleaners, or they're trying to profit on the super-humid summer conditions in the Sunshine City, but in either case, skip water and get a soda.

Atmosphere    4

The stadium is more-than-35 years removed from its last major renovation, so of course there will be some things that are dated. The seats are not very comfortable, nor do a lot of the reserved seats actually spring back up correctly. The general admission is aluminum bench-seating, though there are backs to those seats, and the upper-half of general admission is under a concrete-and-wood awning. Also, sitting in the upper section causes the audio to be quiet and muffled, as it seems the speakers are faced down and out.

Because of this, unless you plan on standing and chanting with the team's supporter group, I would probably recommend sitting in the right-field berm. Not only does it give you a great angle in which to view the game and a place to lose your shoes, dig your toes into the grass, and relax on the hot summer mights, but the kids playing soccer along the bottom of the grassy hill add to the overall ambiance of the game; plus, tickets for the berm are the cheapest in the park, but you do have to have a berm ticket to sit there; it's not general admission.

Since this is a baseball stadium first, the pitch is set up with one goal where 3rd-base usually would be and the boundary running straight into right field. That means the two major selling points of the stadium are right behind the northeast goal: Ralph's Mob and Tampa Bay. I'll discuss Ralph's Mob in the Fans section, but when sitting along what would normally be the 1st-base line you can see the beauty of the Bay and all the boats in the harbor, along with nearby Mahaffey Theater, the new Dalí Museum, and Albert Whitted Airport. Whatever flaws the stadium may have being a 70 year-old ballpark are more than made up with those charms.

Also, with the return of the Rowdies moniker, they have made sure whom you know the team is, even going so far as to placing a gigantic banner over the batter's eye reminding people of the legacy they carry with that logo.

Neighborhood    5

As I mentioned in my original review of Al Lang, I tried asking my editor to let me make an exception and call this a 6 stars of 5; he told me the website program just doesn't allow it. Quite a pity, because I think a perfect score doesn't do it justice. Where else can you walk from a soccer game to three theaters; five museums; a bona fide IndyCar race track; a Major League stadium; three concert venues; six night clubs; over 10 hotels and B&Bs; and countless bars, shops, and restaurants, all in a space of 10 blocks? Where else can you go to the game in your boat or private plane? Yes, there is even public, metered boat parking in the Municipal Marina 3 blocks from the stadium, as well as a general aviation airport, Albert Whitted Airport, 4 blocks south.

Tell me in the Comments below about any other stadium that allows for that much variety in a few square miles. Go ahead...I'll wait.

Fans    5

Being a baseball stadium, about half of the seats are in the one goal end and only one sideline has fan seating. This should hinder the experience in that there are not many places and different angles from which to view the match, but the ownership group have done the best with what they're given, and they are getting the fan support to do it. People are now coming in droves, as proven by the night I went - Independence Day 2012 - was the largest crowd ever for the reincarnated Rowdies; well over 4,000 came into the park that night and you could feel the energy and passion of them all.

What really makes it special, though is the supporter group. A group of diehard hooligans, Ralph's Mob, inhabit the northeast goal end and bring so much life to this park it never feels like there's less than a full-house. Named in honor of the original soccer team's mascot, "Ralph Rowdie", Ralph's Mob has recreated the English football experience pretty close to perfect: flags wave, "Who are ya?!" introductions, and even their own homegrown chants, some even equipped with a few "F-bombs" for good measure to keep the families on their toes. Here's a portion of one of their better, cleaner chants (when playing the Puerto Rico Islanders), and one that accentuates their hatred for longtime (from the original original Rowdies days) rival, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (sung to the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"):

"There's no place worse than the city of Fort Lauderdale / city of Fort Lauderdale, city of Fort Lauderdale / There's no place worse than the city of Fort Lauderdale / Except for Puerto Rico / To hell, to hell with Puerto Rico / To hell, to hell with Puerto Rico / To hell, to hell with Puerto Rico / You're not even a state!"

There are about 20 standard chants, all kept in-tune with a drum player, that are for support of the team, specific players, and even to harass the other team. And they sing all game long pretty much nonstop.

Beautiful.

Access    4

Being downtown, there are plenty of places to park off-site (onsite parking is pretty limited), be them in public garages and signed private garages. They usually are all around $5-$10, and tailgating is both allowed and encouraged on Al Lang property, so if that's your thing, get there early to make sure you get a spot.

With easy access from all points in the Tampa Bay area by Interstate 275 (via I-175 and I-375), U.S. Route 92 (a.k.a. 4th Street), and Alternate U.S. Route 19 (5th Avenue North), getting here is a breeze. Once inside, the main concourse is very wide - even with queues at any kiosk - and the bathrooms are large, clean, and plentiful (however, as an aside, be forewarned that the urinals in the men's rooms have no partitions whatsoever - added or built in to the ceramic - so bladder-shy people might not feel comfortable using them).

Return on Investment    4

2012's team is especially good. Coached by Luton Town hero (by helping his team win the Football League Cup over Arsenal in 1988) and former English national team and Leicester City midfielder Ricky Hill, the Rowdies were on a four-game winning streak after winning the Independence Day game and moved into third place in the league. They even beat the Bolton Wanderers in a friendly in 2011 to prove they're worthy of getting exceptional talent from across the world. With ticket prices below $20 for general admission, parking around $10, and food as cheap as it is, this is probably the best deal in the Tampa Bay Area right now - even with the thick summer heat and humidity.

Extras    4

Again, you have the vast majority of downtown and everything it has to offer within a 15-minute walk of Al Lang, so that accounts for most of the extras.

Within the stadium, there are storyboards and displays showing the history of baseball in St. Petersburg, with old photographs of the greats that have come through the parks. Also, there's no other spot in the US where you can see a minor-league grade park from a major league park, and vice versa. And while this isn't a baseball game, to know about the history of this old park helps enhance the charm.

While "Ralph Rowdie" may have been retired as a mascot in 1993, the new mascot has already become just as beloved: Hoops. Hoops is a giant sock sporting the same stripes ("hoops") of green and yellow the players wear. And before you talk smack on the idea of a big anamorphic sock as a mascot, Ralph's Mob, the drunken hooligans they are, have already created their own chant, even giving the giant, lovable footwear an unofficial last name: "Hoops. McGee. Hoops Hoops McGee! *clap* *clap*" Something tells me they won't take kindly to you messing with him (her?) anytime soon. Sadly, I didn't see Hoops at this game and my experience with it comes from the 2011 season; maybe I just missed him/her. I hope s/he is still with the team because, while kitschy, Hoops is still a lot of fun to have around.

Final Thoughts

The fans are embracing both the reincarnated Rowdies and the city of St. Petersburg for hosting them. You don't get the complaints about the stadium "being too far away" from Rowdies fans like you will from Rays fans; the fans of soccer and the green and gold are just glad to be back doing what they love. The team is returning that love by playing some of the best soccer this area has seen since the days of old.

They've moved on from their old commercials in the '70s and '80s of being a "kick in the grass" and have now become just downright good. This park showcases their talents well, and it is a must-visit for any sports fan. Whether you love or loathe soccer, you must see Al Lang in summer; minor league baseball never brought this much excitement!

My take

Holy crap! Taking a historic baseball ballpark and degrading it by using it for soccer. This is the field that was graced by the Big Red Machine in the 1970s during Spring Training. I think I will just fire up a cigar and go back to enjoying the World Series on TV. Good grief.

by CigarBoy | Oct 25, 2011 10:01 AM

RE: My take

I agree that there is something that feels sacrilegious about using historic Al Lang Stadium as a soccer ground, but hey, someone's gotta use it. Lest it be torn to the ground. A lot of minor league parks have gone to hosting soccer in their outfield (see Fort Wayne Tin Caps review for pictures of another). To me, any excuse to go to a great ballpark/stadium is a good excuse...

by paul | Oct 25, 2011 01:34 PM

RE: My take

I understand the frustration in seeing this, but with all the rhetoric that happened after the failed Rays "sailboat" stadium proposal a few years back, I was 99% convinced Al Lang was facing the wrecking ball and turned into just another open space. If this is what it takes to keep its viability high for years, then so be it. As much as I love and admire St. Pete for its extensive waterfront park system, the LAST thing that piece of history should be turned into is another plot of grass for dogs to poop on and homeless to frequent.

by StPeteRays | Oct 25, 2011 02:06 PM

Poop? The wheels are turning in my mind to come up with a poop joke that covers dogs, grass, soccer and people that like soccer!.

by CigarBoy | Oct 26, 2011 12:18 AM

RE: My take

Dear Genius:

You're thinking (if you're thinking at all) of Al LOPEZ Stadium, not Al LANG. The Big Red Machine trained at Redsland, in Tampa, right next to Tampa Stadium, in the 1970s. Not at Al LANG in St. Petersburg, on the other side of the Bay.

And I'm sorry it pains your little brain to think of people playing another sport on the hallowed ground that I'm guessing you haven't visited in decades, but that's just something you'll have to deal with.

Hall of Famer my buttocks. Moron.

by ZjelkoB2 | Oct 26, 2011 02:24 PM

RE: My take

"Taking a historic baseball ballpark and degrading it by using it for soccer." What a stupid comment. Of course, it had to come from a person who thinks baseball is the only sport worth watching and following. Please...grow up. The '70's are gone, history! Go back to watching your world series.

by ENJOYLIFEVIDEOS | Oct 27, 2011 09:50 AM

RE: RE: My take

Thank you for setting CigarMORON straight. This dude doesn't even know the history of the sport he likes.

by ENJOYLIFEVIDEOS | Oct 27, 2011 09:52 AM

RE:

"Poop? The wheels are turning in my mind to come up with a poop joke that covers dogs, grass, soccer and people that like soccer!" Well think hard...because your brain isn't that clever anyways!

by ENJOYLIFEVIDEOS | Oct 27, 2011 09:54 AM

My take

I stand corrected, it was Al Lopez. I got the AL part right.

I always find it amusing when I don't fall in line and take a shot at the game of soccer. The soccer people always resort to taking personal shots at me. They are a thin skinned little bunch.

For the record I enjoy baseball, football and basketball, classic American sports and if anyone wants to take shots at those sports, be my guest. I won't be offended, nor feel the need to defend them. I also have no desire to get into a pissing match (maybe the first on StadiumJourney.com) with thin-skinned soccer fans, it is just not that important.

by CigarBoy | Oct 27, 2011 01:16 PM

Rowdies

Good to see the club back as the Rowdies...the way it should be...

by paul | Dec 21, 2011 12:47 PM

Saving baseball history via soccer

Al Lang is history. As a Mets fan, I certainly knew that the idols of my youth -- Seaver, Koosman, Hodges and my sentimental fave Swoboda, trained there each spring. Before them, it was Musial's Cards, and nearby (with a prior stadium that Al Lang replaced) trained Ruth and Gehrig. And... the place was going to get torn down absent another use. Would it be better to see it replaced by condos? I think not. Soccer's not my cup of tea, I assure you, but this is a reuse that saves a historic baseball stadium and baseball fans should be thanking the Rowdies, not bashing them.

by DougB | Jul 10, 2013 01:07 AM

You must be a Stadium Journey member to post a comment.

Already a member? Sign in or Create a Stadium Journey Account

-- OR --

Crowd Reviews

A Kick in the Grass

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Al Lang Stadium appear, on the outside, to be as unlikely of a match as they come. The team was created in 2010 for the soon-to-be created North American Soccer League, the latter of which was the end result of a feud in the United States Soccer Federation between teams on which league would be second-tier in the American pyramid. The stadium is an ancient ball field, steeped in history and considered "the epicenter of spring training".

Yet, these two have a lot more in common than one thinks. While the Rowdies of today is only in its second season (as of 2011), its roots are steeped in Bay Area tradition, as well. Originally taking the name of "FC Tampa Bay Rowdies" for their first year of play, this is an obvious homage to the very first professional top-league team in Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who began play in the first incarnation of the North American Soccer League in 1975. They were successful on the field with one championship and two 2nd-place finishes, and they were even popular off, drawing large crowds to old Tampa Stadium.

Unfortunately, they ended play in 1993, after moving from league-to-league — each one going belly-up while the Rowdies soldiered on — trying to find one they could call their own, remaining popular to the very end — an end that eventually landed them in the now-demolished Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg as an indoor soccer team. Due to soccer's past popularity in the Bay Area, when Major League Soccer started in 1996, a team called the Mutiny was created and played at old Tampa Stadium until 1998, when they moved into the new Raymond James Stadium. However, they were not as popular as their predecessors, and were dissolved in 2001.

These new Rowdies, wearing the same color-scheme from the original team (in 2011, they dropped the "Rowdies" portion of their name due to outstanding copyright issues — going as "FC Tampa Bay" for that season — but for 2012 and beyond have retained the rights to the original "Rowdies" name), played their 2010 season at Steinbrenner Field. But due to the conflicting schedule of baseball and soccer (meaning the pitch still had the dirt base paths), they moved to Al Lang Stadium the following year, since it had no summertime tenants, and faced the wrecking ball as late as summer 2010. Now, both icons, once thought to be lost forever, are now back and alive.

Worth it!

Total Score: 4.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

For those of us who care about the soccer movement in America, attending FCTB games @ Al LAng is a great and fun experience...also very affordable. Tickets, parking & food are very affordable. To see a soccer game against the background of a beautiful bay and a lovely downtown is great. I highly recommended.

And to those American who think baseball is the ONLY thing, please abstain from your moronic comments. For some of us baseball is NOT relevant!

Share your thoughts about Al Lang Stadium

Local Food & Drink

Central Avenue Oyster Bar  (map it!)

249 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 897-9728

http://centralaveoysterbar.com/

Courigan's Irish Pub  (map it!)

1 Beach Dr SE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 551-9019

http://courigansirishpub.com/

Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill  (map it!)

1320 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33705

(727) 822-4562

http://fergssportsbar.com/

JoJo's in Citta  (map it!)

200 Central Ave, Suite #100

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-0075

http://jojosinthecity.com/

Burrito Boarder  (map it!)

17 3rd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 209-0202

http://www.burritoboarder.com/

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant  (map it!)

10 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 209-2302

http://www.ceviche.com/

The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge  (map it!)

540 1st St SE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-7767

http://www.thehangarstpete.com/

Kahwa Coffee  (map it!)

204 2nd Ave S

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 821-1942

http://www.kahwacoffee.com/

Local Entertainment

PUSH Ultra Lounge  (map it!)

128 3rd St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 871-7874

http://www.pushlounge.com/

Vintage Ultra Lounge  (map it!)

16 2nd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 898-2222

http://www.vintageultralounge.com/

Jannus Live  (map it!)

16 2nd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 565-0550

http://www.jannuslive.com/

State Theatre  (map it!)

687 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 895-3045

http://www.statetheatreconcerts.com/

Chihuly Collection presented by Morean Arts Center  (map it!)

400 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 896-4527

http://www.moreanartscenter.org/content.php?id=90

Florida Holocaust Museum  (map it!)

55 5th St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 820-0100

http://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/

American Stage Theatre Company  (map it!)

163 3rd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-7529

http://www.americanstage.org/

Scene Premium Nightclub  (map it!)

211 3rd St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 631-4050

http://www.facebook.com/ScenePremiumNightClub?sk=wall

Museum of Fine Arts  (map it!)

255 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 896-2667

http://www.fine-arts.org/

Mahaffey Theater  (map it!)

400 1st St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 892-5798

http://www.mahaffeytheater.com/

Vue 19  (map it!)

200 Central Ave

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 821-4600

http://www.vue19.com/

Salvador Dali Museum  (map it!)

1 Dali­ Blvd

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-3767

http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org

The Bishop Lounge  (map it!)

260 1st Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 564-3628

http://bishoptavernandlounge.com/dtsp/

St. Petersburg Museum of History  (map it!)

335 2nd Ave NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-1052

http://www.spmoh.org

Lodging

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront  (map it!)

333 1st St S

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(866) 601-2397

http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/SPTSHHF-Hilton-St-Petersburg-Bayfront-Florida/index.do

Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club  (map it!)

501 5th Ave NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-1000

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasr-renaissance-vinoy-resort-and-golf-club/

Courtyard Marriott St. Petersburg Downtown  (map it!)

300 4th St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 450-6200

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasd-courtyard-st-petersburg-downtown/

Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown  (map it!)

80 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 892-9900

http://www.stpetehamptonsuites.com/

The Pier Hotel  (map it!)

253 2nd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(800) 735-6607

http://www.thepierhotel.com/

Hotel Indigo  (map it!)

234 3rd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 822-4814

http://www.downtownstpetersburghotel.com/

Ponce de Leon Hotel  (map it!)

95 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 550-9300

http://www.poncedeleonhotel.com/

America's Best Inn Downtown  (map it!)

342 3rd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-3428

http://www.americasbestinnstpete.com/

w

© 2014 Stadium Journey