In less than two weeks, Downtown will be home to football – and futbol.
A week after the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, the newly formed Jacksonville Armada professional soccer team – its name a nod to Jacksonville’s naval history – will kick off its inaugural season with its first pre-season game at EverBank Field. With the exception of two NASL challenges at Jacksonville University in March and the regular season opener also at EverBank Field April 4, remaining home games will take place at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
A unique move to ensure the team will play Downtown, the City of Jacksonville and Suns Baseball agreed to convert the baseball diamond to an authentic soccer pitch to be known as “Community First Park.” Both the Suns and the Armada will share the field throughout their overlapping seasons. How will they do this? A removable pitcher’s mound will be removed in sections prior to each soccer match; turf will be placed over the baseball field; and Armada signage will be installed throughout the stadium, also featuring new camera stands.
At JAX Chamber Downtown Council‘s Jan. 16 meeting, guest speaker and Armada President Steve Livingstone spoke about the excitement building across the city thanks to the large concentration of soccer fans in Northeast Florida. Livingstone said giving these soccer fans another team to cheer for – which includes local soccer stars – only scratches the surface of the positive effects the Armada will have on Jacksonville, Downtown specifically.
In his presentation, he outlined several ways the team is poised to impact Downtown growth:
- Each game is expected to bring, on average, about 8,000 to 10,000 soccer fans Downtown
- Each game will include pre-game events, such as block parties and team parades
- The Armada already created about 30 jobs, which will increase to 200 when the season starts, with its office located in Downtown’s Wells Fargo Center
- Soccer is “the world’s game,” and opportunities exist for the Armada to play international teams, taking the Jacksonville name to soccer-match sites across the world
- The Armada is working with the City of Jacksonville to identify locations for the possible construction of a soccer stadium Downtown in years to come
“We’re really proud about that,” said Livingstone about the team’s commitment to Downtown. DVI looks forward to witnessing the Armada invasion Downtown, further solidifying Downtown as a sports-fan destination.
The pre-season will run Feb. 7 to March 28. The regular season, split into two parts, will run April 4 to June 7 this spring and July 18 to Nov. 1 this fall. No Armada gear yet? No problem. There are already awesome Armada jerseys and T-shirts for sale. For more information on the Armada, including the full 2015 season schedule, visit armadafc.com.
See you at the pitch!