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Work starts on $6 million women's pro soccer stadium project

The Tampa Bay Sun FC is upgrading a local high school stadium ahead of its inaugural season set to start in August.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 12:15 p.m. February 13, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Blake High School Principal Valerie Newton looks at renderings along with Hillsborough County School Board member Henry Washington.
Blake High School Principal Valerie Newton looks at renderings along with Hillsborough County School Board member Henry Washington.
Courtesy image
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Tampa’s new women’s professional soccer team has begun construction on a $6 million stadium project to upgrade its soon-to-be home field.

The work on the Tampa Bay Sun FC’s riverfront stadium at Howard W. Blake High School is expected to last until August, the start of the team’s inaugural season.

In a statement the team says among the upgrades coming to the field are:

  • Enhanced seating to to increase capacity from 1,800 to more than 5,000
  • Expanded concessions areas
  • “Fan zones” for family activities pregame
  • Upgraded locker room facilities for players and coaches
  • A state-of-the-art scoreboard — plans call for the existing scoreboard to be used at another school
  • Installation of high-end turf approved for professional soccer use by FIFA, international soccer’s governing body

The team won approval in October from the Hillsborough County School Board to use the high school field for several years as it looks for a permanent home. The improvements, which the team is paying for, were both to give the Sun a professional facility and an enticement to school leaders to allow it to use the field by making the changes permanent.

At a school board meeting in October, the district’s deputy superintendent of operations Chris Farkas told board members that in addition to the stadium improvements the team plans to upgrade the front of the school, build a stage for performances and other improvements “that will be identified as plans are completed.” The team also plans to work with school leaders to “identify beautification projects on the adjacent Blake campus.”

The team, owned by prolific Ybor City developer Darryl Shaw, David Laxer and Jeff Fox, will compete in the just launched USL Super League. Games are scheduled to start in August 2024.

The U.S.-based league will initially feature 10 to 12 teams from cities including Dallas, Charlotte and Washington, D.C., in addition to Tampa. Five other cities will have teams that will start playing in 2025.

According to Tampa-based USL’s website, the league “has committed to U.S. Soccer’s Division One standards, reflecting its collective vision to be a global leader in women’s soccer on and off the field while providing more opportunities for more women in more communities.”



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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