The first Tampa Bay Rowdies were a professional soccer team from Tampa, Florida, USA. Originally founded as a North American Soccer League expansion franchise in 1975 by George Strawbridge, the team played ten seasons at Tampa Stadium and won their only Soccer Bowl championship in their inaugural season defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0. The Rowdies lost in the finals in 1978 and 1979.

The team showcased international stars such as midfield captain Rodney Marsh (England), swift and lethal forward Steve Wegerle (South Africa), rock-solid defenseman Arsene Auguste (Haiti), and popular player and high goal-scoring Derek Smethurst (South Africa). Coached by Eddie Firmani, John Boyle, and Gordon Jago, their catch phrase and marketing slogan was "The Rowdies arrrreeee...a kick in the grass!" The Rowdies also fielded an indoor soccer team from 1975-1984 and were two-time champions. After the 1983 season, the team was sold to Stella Thayer, Bob Blanchard and Dick Corbett.

After the demise of the NASL in 1984, Cornelia Corbett became sole owner of the team in 1986. With Rodney Marsh as coach, the Rowdies operated as an independent team for two years before joining the American Indoor Soccer Association for one season (1986-87). In the summer of 1988, the Rowdies joined the third incarnation of the American Soccer League. They would stay in this league and its successor (the APSL) until they folded after the 1993 season.