Super League Tampa Bay waterfront venue



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Tampa Bay USL team will upgrade stadium in downtown Image: Super League Tampa Bay

The Hillsborough County School Board approved a landmark partnership recently with the Super League Tampa Bay (professional women’s soccer league in the United States).

‘superleaguetampabay.com’ stated that under the agreement, the Super League Tampa Bay will pay the full cost to upgrade and expand the waterfront stadium adjacent to the Blake High School in Downtown Tampa, Florida (US). Starting in August 2024, the stadium will serve as the temporary home for the team, hosting its games for its first several seasons.

The Hillsborough County School Board is a group of seven elected officials who control the public schools in Hillsborough County, Florida, US.

The Super League Tampa Bay is a professional women’s soccer team that’s part of the USL Super League. The USL Super League is a planned Division I league that’s owned and operated by the United Soccer League (USL). The league was originally scheduled to start in August 2023, but it’s now set to begin in August 2024. The Super League Tampa Bay is one of eight Super League teams in the US. The team’s goal is to advance women’s soccer and support the growth of the sport.

Tampa (US)-based the United Soccer League (USL) is a soccer league in the United States and Canada. It organizes several men’s and women’s leagues, both professional and amateur.

The Super League Tampa Bay team is planning a temporary waterfront stadium in downtown Tampa, Florida. The stadium will be located at the Howard W. Blake High School. The stadium will have a capacity of 5,000 and a FIFA-approved turf. The team is debuting in August 2024. The owners are working with the Hillsborough County Public Schools to upgrade an existing pitch.

‘superleaguetampabay.com’ further stated that the team expects to invest more than $4 million in stadium enhancements, with the exact amount to be determined by the final design. These will be permanent upgrades, at no cost to the taxpayers, and will remain with the school when the team later moves to its permanent home. Discussions are also underway for the team to create new opportunities for the Blake High School students in the areas of Music and Performing Arts, TV Production, as well as Math and Engineering.

“This is a unique public-private partnership that creates fantastic opportunities for our students and our entire community,” said Van Ayres, Interim Superintendent for the Hillsborough County Public Schools, who started his teaching career at Blake in 1997 and worked there as a Science teacher and later as the Assistant Principal for 15 years.

Added Ayres, “On the field, our athletes will have access to excellent new high-end facilities. Off the field, we’ll have new opportunities for hands-on learning for all the students at the school. Plus, our whole community will see the benefits of investing in our schools to create a stronger future for all of us.”

Transformational enhancements paid for by the team will include expanding the stadium’s capacity from 1,800 to around 5,000, installing new FIFA-approved turf, upgrading locker room facilities, beautification projects on the adjacent Blake campus, and additional upgrades that will be identified as plans are completed.
 

Location Considerations

Stated Christina Unkel, Super League Tampa Bay President, “As a fan, this location unlocks an entire evening of fun, with so many hubs of activity around Downtown Tampa. You can have dinner with friends, then hop on a water taxi or stroll to the Riverwalk, and ‘march to the match’ to cheer for your team.”

The potential for an energized atmosphere before, during, and after the club’s Saturday night home games is one of the key reasons the Super League Tampa Bay looked to the stadium along the Hillsborough River for its initial home, Unkel explained.

Other considerations included the opportunity to have a positive impact on children through the school district partnership, the ability for the field to be ready in time for kickoff in August 2024 and excellent access for fans – with several transportation connections and an estimated two million people living within 30 minutes of the stadium.

The team will hold its daily training at its Ybor City Training Facility in Tampa and will collaborate with the school administrators to minimize any impact on the neighboring school. A soccer-specific stadium in a yet-to-be-determined different location is being planned to serve as the team’s permanent home.
 

Timeline Details

The construction timelines are not yet set, but will be complete by August 2024 when the team begins competition in the newly established USL Super League. The club’s name, colors and logo -which are being created with input from fans – will be revealed in the coming weeks.

The team leaders plan to engage with Blake’s alumni association in the days ahead and will meet with the students, parents and the staff at an upcoming conference night. The Howard W. Blake High School carries on a special legacy as one of the two high schools in the county open to Black students during the segregation era.
 

Season Ticket Deposits

Deposits for season tickets are now available and selling quickly. The deposit to reserve a seat for the club’s August 2024 debut is $24 per ticket. Click here to sign up now.

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