Agreement Will Lead to $4 Million+ Investment in Facilities and New Student Activities at No Cost to Taxpayers
TAMPA, FL (October 18, 2023) – The Hillsborough County School Board approved a landmark partnership Tuesday with Tampa Bay’s new top-tier women’s pro soccer team. Under the agreement, Super League Tampa Bay will pay the full cost to upgrade and expand the waterfront stadium adjacent to Blake High School in Downtown Tampa. Starting in August 2024, the stadium will serve as the temporary home for the team, hosting its games for its first several seasons.
The team expects to invest more than $4 million in stadium enhancements, with the exact amount determined by the final design. These will be permanent upgrades, at no cost to 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 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 Hillsborough County Public Schools, who started his teaching career at Blake in 1997 and worked there as a science teacher and later assistant principal for 15 years.
“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.
“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,” Super League Tampa Bay President Christina Unkel said.
The potential for an energized atmosphere before, during, and after the club’s Saturday night home games is one of the key reasons 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 and will collaborate with 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.
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.
Team leaders plan to engage with Blake’s alumni association in the days ahead and will meet with students, parents, and staff at an upcoming conference night. Howard W. Blake High School carries on a special legacy as one of 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.