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Baseball is often referred to as “America’s Favorite Pastime” and here in Jacksonville locals know that nothing says summertime in downtown like hitting a Jumbo Shrimp game on a hot night.
Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not – the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville is the place to be for the young and old and everyone in between.
As a longtime resident and fan, here is my definitive play-by-play for getting the most out of a minor league stadium experience with the Jumbo Shrimp.
A baseball game isn’t quite the same without a pregame drink at Intuition Ale Works. Order a cool-brewed Jon Boat Coastal Ale, an extra hoppy I-10 IPA, or show your support every sip with the Shrimp Boat Kolsh, which is a light, crisp beer brewed with orange peel brewed especially for Jumbo fans at Intuition. From the top bar at the brewery, you can see the crowds heading to the stadium for the Jumbo Shrimp game. Take your time sipping because locals know there is no point in being rushed for the game. When the time is right, take a leisurely stroll down the block to 121 stadium park.
I suggest skipping the concession crowds and staking your claim on your seat while the entering crowds die down. In the meantime, get your friends in for a picture under the stadium lights (everyone looks good here!) and great sunset photos from the baseball grounds.
When you’re done with that make sure to hit the merch store for some of the coolest t-shirts and hats to rep the team with. I personally like to dress head to toe in Jumbo memorabilia to the point that even the team mascot Scampi feels underdressed. Once you head in the official store, if you’re like me, you know it’s time to get Shrimped out.
Once the announcer starts ramping up, you know you’ve got a little time before the game and it’s time to get your food order in. The Jumbo Shrimp’s concessions offer a culinary smorgasbord of delights ranging from classic to new. I love the mac & cheese bites with something classic, like an all-beef hotdog loaded with relish, jalapeno, ketchup, and mustard. You’re also welcome to channel your inner fan by ordering some fried jumbo shrimp (boom-boom or torpedo style). I find that nothing quite washes that all down like a cheap, cold American beer. If the sound of that really piques your interest, be sure to hit the game on Thursdays when Budweiser is $2!
Once you’ve had your fill of nacho cheese and deep-fried everything, head down to left field for a cocktail at the Tiki Terrace. Not only are the drinks strong and fruity, but this bar has some of the best seats in the house! Spirits are always high here and it’s a great place to root the Jumbo Shrimps with as much enthusiasm as you can muster.
Hold the bathroom break (unless those $2 beers have suddenly decided to run to home plate). Between Innings is when things get weird and it’s definitely a highlight of the evening! Whether it’s a World’s Largest Ball Pit or Dive Bar Night – halftime never fails to be hilarious and keep the energy flowing for the second half.
It’s the second half and the only thing keeping the Jumbo Shrimp from taking it home is the crowd’s inability to root them on. While that might not be true, it’s important that every fan thinks it because it’s time to get rooting! Now that the beers and brats have settled, it’s time to let it all out and show those Shrimps some love.
After a long night, you might be feeling full, tired and hoarse from yelling – but it’s no time to quit. If you happen to be at the game on a weekend night, you’re in for a show after a show because that’s when the fireworks start. Win or lose, the Jumbo Shrimps end the game with a bang and these fireworks are impressive. It’s the perfect way to blow the cap off a perfect night in Jacksonville.
Local Expert Guest