The Rowdies were the first professional sports franchise in the area and remain one of the most recognizable and well-loved brands in soccer. Originally established in 1975, the team won the NASL Soccer Bowl championship in its inaugural year and created a unique, entertaining and memorable franchise with the Fannies, Wowdies and unforgettable Kick in the Grass theme song. In 2008, a group of investors announced the purchase of rights to a professional soccer franchise and the newly established team began play in 2010. In 2012, the Rowdies won the NASL Soccer Bowl Championship after a thrilling shoot-out victory in front of a sold out crowd at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.
July 1974: George Strawbridge and Beau Rogers IV found a North American Soccer League team and decide to call it the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
1975: The Rowdies hit the field for their inaugural season at Tampa Stadium and compile a record of 16-6 (135 points), second only to the Portland Timbers (16-6, 138 points)
August 1975: The Rowdies beat Toronto Metros-Croatia in the playoff quarterfinals 1-0 and follow it with a 3-0 semifinal victory over the Miami Toros to earn a trip to San Jose, California to play in the NASL Soccer Bowl. There, the Rowdies beat the Portland Timbers 2-0 in San Jose thanks to second-half goals scored by Arsene Auguste and Clyde Best. Rowdies defender Stewart Jump was awarded Man of the Match.
1976: The Rowdies compete in and win the NASL Indoor Season, beating the Rochester Lancers 6-4 in the Final, played at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg.
1978: The Rowdies knock off the Chicago Sting, San Diego Sockers and Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the playoffs to earn a spot in their second Soccer Bowl berth. 74,901 fans watched the New York Cosmos beat the Rowdies 3-1 at Giants Stadium.
1979: Playoff wins over the Detroit Express, Philadelphia Fury and San Diego Sockers see the Rowdies earn another trip to the Soccer Bowl. There, the Rowdies were beaten 2-1 by the Vancouver Whitecaps at Giants Stadium.
1980: Outdoors, The Rowdies host their largest-ever home crowd as 56,389 see Tampa Bay meet the California Surf in June. Indoors, the Rowdies win their second title, beating the Memphis Rogues 1-0 in the Final’s mini-game tiebreaker.
1985-86: Following the disintegration of the NASL, the Rowdies play as an independent for two seasons. Cornelia Corbett acquired the team in 1986.
1986-87: The Rowdies join the American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA), reaching the league quarterfinals in their only season.
1988-89: The Rowdies play two seasons in the American Soccer League, earning a trip to the semifinals in 1989.
1990-1993: The Rowdies play their final three seasons of the classic era as a member of the American Professional Soccer League before leaving the field for nearly two decades. Star midfielder Ricky Hill joins the team in 1992 as a player/coach for one season.
2008: A new group founds a club and names it FC Tampa Bay Rowdies, intending to enter the new incarnation of the NASL.
2010: The FCTB Rowdies play their inaugural season at Tampa’s George M. Steinbrenner Field, competing in the United States Soccer Federation Division II Pro League, a merged league featuring new NASL teams and United Soccer Leagues teams.
2011: FC Tampa Bay temporarily drops the “Rowdies” name and moves to St. Petersburg’s historic Al Lang Stadium to compete in the NASL after it receives full sanctioning as the United States’ second division. Ricky Hill rejoins the Rowdies as head coach and leads the team to the playoffs. FC Tampa Bay also played its first international friendly, beating the English Premier League’s Bolton Wanderers 1-0.
2012: FC Tampa Bay’s leadership reacquires the Rowdies name and subsequently drops the “FC” from the name, making the club the “Tampa Bay Rowdies” once again. The team thrives under Hill and wins its second NASL Soccer Bowl Championship, defeating the NSC Minnesota Stars in a penalty kick shootout to claim the trophy.
2013: The Rowdies flip the field inside Al Lang Stadium, reorienting it to run in an east-west direction. The season is highlighted by a run to the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, including a 1-0 victory at home over Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC.
December 2013: St. Petersburg philanthropist and businessman Bill Edwards purchases controlling interest in the Rowdies and kicks off their Whole New Era.