- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ quest to reach American soccer’s highest rung won overwhelming approval from St. Petersburg voters, giving team owner Bill Edwards the ability to transform a historic stadium into a venue for Major League Soccer.

The measure passed with 87 percent of voters approving the plan.

Fewer than 20 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s special election. Just over 28,000 votes were cast, nearly 90 percent by mail.

The referendum will allow city officials to begin negotiating a 25-year lease with Edwards, who wants to spend up to $80 million to expand the stadium’s capacity to 18,000 seats.

Despite the landslide vote, nothing will happen unless MLS decides to grant one of four expansion teams to St. Petersburg.

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