Here's the slightly longer online version of the story I wrote earlier this evening for the Tampa Tribune.
With the league's status being up in the air to this point, the rest of the franchise's plans have been stuck in neutral. I was told earlier today, though, that the Rowdies were going to be making plans for a big press conference by the end of the month, at which point everything should become clear.
In my mind, it is going to be crucial for that to happen. For a while now, announcements have been meant to be just around the corner. When Paul Dalglish was installed as manager, it was said that stadium plans were going to be coming soon. As it stands, they still are.
As much as this was being stressed as a long-term project during today's conference call, it feels as though getting off on the right foot in their opening season is going to be critical for the Rowdies to succeed. Other franchises in the USSF Second Division, or whatever its official name will end up being, like Rochester, Puerto Rico, Portland to name three in the Rowdies division, were already established as USL franchises. One of those franchises, Portland, will move up to MLS in 2011 in part because of the following the Timbers have in the Pacific Northwest, averaging over 9,000 fans per game in the USL last season.
The Rowdies don't have that luxury yet, and if they are to earn it and reach those kinds of attendence figures it is imperitive they get plans out in the open, and give local fans confidence this can be a success.