You’ve heard of BitCoin; now meet “RowdieCoin,” a new flexible ticketing option for Tampa Bay Rowdies matches.
The USL Championship soccer team, which opens its 2021 season at home on Saturday vs. Charlotte Independence, is following in the footsteps of owner the Tampa Bay Rays, which earlier this year — in anticipation of a season likely to be subject to continued uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic — introduced a season membership plan that replaced traditional season-ticket sales. Instead of paying for fixed seat locations at a select number of games throughout the season, Rays fans who opt for the membership model — whose various “tiers” range in price from $500 to $20,000 — will have access to different seats and can change the number of tickets they need for each game.
Likewise, RowdieCoins will be sold in $79.99 increments and can be used to purchase single-game tickets for home matches.
“For example,” read a statement from the organization, “you can use this credit to purchase three tickets to one match, one ticket for three matches or any othercombination you prefer.”
Unlike the Rays, however, the Rowdies are still selling fixed-seat season tickets, the only catch being that they must be purchased in socially distant “pods” to ensure fans are adequately spaced out throughout Al Lang Stadium. Whereas season tickets are being sold to groups of families and friends who plan to attend matches together, tickets bought using RowdieCoins can be used for single seats. Holders of RowdieCoins also receive access to ticket presale events to ensure they can snag seats before they go on sale to the general public.
“But that’s not all,” as Steve Jobs would say. The Rowdies also introduced revamped jerseys and a new crest that pays homage to the franchise’s long and storied history. Before the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays ever filled stadiums, the Rowdies represented Tampa Bay as the region’s first professional sports franchise, debuting in 1975. Although the original club folded in 1993, the Rowdies were reborn under new ownership in 2010, and the significant dates are represented by the “7510” in the new crest.
The crest features the traditional Rowdies wordmark, in use since 1975; two stars signifying the club’s two championships; lines evoking the Sunshine Skyway Bridge; and a new version of mascot Ralph Rowdie.
“I was a little shocked, at first, because you’re so used to seeing just the traditional wordmark,” Rowdies President Lee Cohen stated in a news release about the new crest. “But we can do some really creative things with it.”
Head Coach Neill Collins said the crest builds upon what was already an “iconic” look. “Even as a player growing up in the U.K., I knew who the Tampa Bay Rowdies were,” he said in a video posted on the team’s website. “This new logo is a nod to that tradition, a nod to the past.”
Cohen said that while the wordmark has always been popular, he had been hearing for years that the team needed a more formal crest in the mold of what’s de rigueur for soccer clubs around the world.
“To me, my favorite element is the Tampa Bay Rowdies logo within this crest,” Cohen said. “We’ve revitalized something that can be fun for an original 1975 Rowdies fan, a 2010 Rowdies fan or a 2021 Rowdies fan. The Rowdies logo is still part of our iconic brand. It’s just now within a crest that embodies the Tampa Bay region, our brand, our supporters and the history of the club.”
The “7510” crest will appear on the top left of the Rowdies’ white jerseys, which have also been tweaked with the addition of a collar to give the kit an all-around traditional look. The team will continue the use of its green-and-yellow striped jerseys as well as the bright, neon-green “Volt” tops that were first introduced in 2019.
The Rowdies’ stylistic overhaul drew high praise on social media:
— ⚽️ The Hooped Sleeve ⚽️ (VACCINATE YO SELF!!) 💉🦠 (@TheHoopedSleeve) April 24, 2021
One observer said the use of “7510” was an inspired choice.
1975 or 2010, it doesn’t matter what era you identify with. It’s all one big Rowdies family. 💚💛 https://t.co/fVznhGo8KT
— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@TampaBayRowdies) April 23, 2021
Other commentators, including a Texas independent-league baseball team, went wild for Ralph Rowdie’s well-coiffed mustache:
Gotta say, we might have a new favorite @USLChampionship team.
— Cleburne Railroaders (@CRRBaseball) April 26, 2021
More love for the ‘stache:
for obvious reasons I desperately need to own some sort of apparel where this mustachioed man, Ralphie Rowdie, is the centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ new crest https://t.co/vqt7cJVc7U
— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) April 23, 2021