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Spring into the Jacksonville sports scene like a pro!
By Megan Eileen McDonough
The Jags’ season might be over five months away, but there are plenty of sporting events to keep you in the game all spring long. From baseball to soccer to surfing, there’s no time to sit on the bench when the stars come out to play in Jacksonville. So we’ve rounded up an all-star roster of the most exciting sporting events of the new season.
Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned veteran, being a good sport is all it takes to get in the game and be part of the vibrant Jacksonville community for an evening at the pitch, a weekend at the beach or a beautiful day at the ballpark.
Root, root, root for the home team when the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp take the field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to kick off the 2017 Southern League season. The Jumbo Shrimp are a minor-league affiliate of the Miami Marlins and they play up to 70 home games between April and September. With tickets starting at just $5 (dugout box seats are $18 each), a Jumbo Shrimp game is truly a bargain that gets you seats to the game with plenty of extra cash for souvenirs and snacks.
Every Friday home game concludes with a top-notch fireworks show, and on Sundays you can take the kids to the ballpark to have a catch on the field before the game and run the bases when the game is over.
First Coast fanatics love their soccer, especially when the Armada takes the pitch. Home games take place at Community First Park at Hodges Stadium, and the soccer club always draws a big crowd.
There are a number of Armada FC matchday traditions to get you into the futbol spirit. Arrive early to partake in all of the pregame festivities. March to the match with Section 904, the self-proclaimed “loudest and proudest” Armada fans, who have their own tailgating section before and during every game. The 2017 season is now underway and tickets start at just $10. Season ticket holders can enjoy extra perks and special team access for just $170 for the entire season.
They’re not the Jaguars, but the Jacksonville Sharks are the ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division champions—and they’ve only been around since 2010. There’s nothing like an Arena Football League game, which brings high-intensity, fast-paced action to the sport and a family-friendly atmosphere to the seats, making it a great fan experience for everyone. Every Sharks’ game has its own theme—from Redneck Night to Superhero Night to Military Appreciation Night—each as entertaining as the last. The regular season runs from April through July, and tickets to see the Sharks at Sea Best Field at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena start at just $12.
Northeast Florida is a golfer’s paradise offering a wide range of pristine courses all the way from Amelia Island to Palm Coast, with 39 holes set along the Atlantic Coastline and the Intracoastal Waterway. Each May, thousands of golf lovers travel from around the world to Florida’s First Coast to bear witness to the sport’s greatest at THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass for one of the PGA Tour's most coveted events.
Jacksonville’s red carpet will be rolled out and celebrity stardom will be on full display from May 9 to 14, so be sure to catch a glimpse of what real Southern hospitality feels like during the week of the tournament. Tickets start at just $20 for single-day passes and $95 for family packages.
The Jacksonville Axemen have become one of the most popular and successful teams in the USA Rugby League. Every match draws an average of 2,500 fervent fans to Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida for one of the most intense sporting competitions you’ll ever experience. The first match of the 2017 season is on June 3.. So if you’re looking to treat your dad to an early Father's Day (June 18), take him to an Axemen match, where $1 beers and a little rugby are a game winner.
The 34th annual WaveMasters Surf Contest is one of Florida’s top professional and amateur surfing competitions held every May at Jacksonville Beach. For more than 30 years, WaveMasters has propelled some of Jacksonville’s best surfing talent to stardom across the international circuit. More than 200 Southland surfers will compete on May 6 and 7 for thousands in cash prizes and their claim to glory. The event also raises thousands for youth and environmental charities.
Heading into its eighth year, the Florida Surfing Association’s Super Grom Surf Fest Series returns to Jacksonville Beach on June 17.
The annual program is geared toward kids 10 and under and is empowering, friendly and non-competitive. In fact, simply participating in the event earns the kids a lunch, a T-shirt, a goodie bag and, when it’s all said and done, a medal. The event is held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is an awesome opportunity to bring Jacksonville families together while the children learn how to hang 10 from local surfers. Participation is limited to 150 entries per event on a first-come, first-served basis.
Whether you’re a diehard Jacksonville native or just dropping in for some business or pleasure, join the rest of the community in attendance at any of these exhilarating hometown experiences—and don’t be afraid to show some Southland pride
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