Jacksonville Awarded NASL Expansion Team

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NASL Logo, photo by soccerbyives.net
NASL Logo, photo by soccerbyives.net

This is something soccer fans in the Jacksonville area have been waiting to hear since rumors of talks regarding interest in a North American Soccer League (NASL) expansion team surfaced – Jacksonville has officially been awarded a pro NASL soccer expansion team, along with Oklahoma City.

While a team name and stadium location have yet to be announced, this is undoubtedly a very exciting time for the city of Jacksonville, and soccer fans in the Northeast Florida area.

This announcement has come after a surge of popularity in the sport after an international friendly between USA and Scotland saw a record crowd of over 44,000, in addition to Philadelphia Union committing to one preseason game a year over the next four years in Jacksonville, and culminating recently with Jaguars owner Shad Khan purchasing London based club Fulham FC.

A location for a stadium has yet to be announced, but there is speculation of where the team will play including Hodges Stadium at UNF, and even Everbank Field. However, Jacksonville based firm Sunshine Soccer Group’s CEO Mark Frisch has expressed interest in building a stadium of their own. No one, to my knowledge, has speculated where possible locations could be, so I’ll give you a little insight into MY list of potential locations for you, the reader, to mull over until the location is revealed.

Disclaimer: The following are all my opinions and in no way based on fact. However, if one of the location becomes fact, you heard it here first and I take full credit and invoke full right of the use of any and all “I told you so’s”. If it does not become fact, forget this article even exists. Enjoy.

1. Met Park

Met Park, photo by marinas.com
Met Park, photo by marinas.com

Nice big area, shared parking areas between Everbank and the Baseball Grounds, and conveniently located to highways and byways. What’s not to like? Sure, the boys of x102.9 and anyone who enjoys Welcome to Rockville and any other concerts held in that spot will probably be a little upset, but it’s soccer. Come on. On a serious note, I would have to say it is one of my top choices for the most likely of places for a soccer stadium if one comes to fruition. I makes a lot of sense as to why that spot would work out.

2. Dock area off E. Bay St.

Downtown Jacksonville Docks just north of Met Park photo by marinas.com
Downtown Jacksonville Docks just north of Met Park photo by marinas.com

I’ve heard rumors of plans that the city of Jacksonville has the intentions of finding some use of that area. This could also be a similar venue area to the Met Park area, without having to completely use up that area for something other than a concert venue. Fill in the docks and extend the bank out into the river and put a riverfront soccer stadium on top! Seemingly flawless. Added bonus, you’re right down the street from the Duval County jail and courthouse. You know, just in case you have soccer hooligans. Another bonus would be that it’s within walking distance to some pretty cool bars. Not that the hooligans will need any additional alcohol.

3. Everbank Field

Everbank Field, photo by Jacksonville.com
Everbank Field, photo by Jacksonville.com

D.C. United made, RFK Stadium work, why not Jacksonville? If the popularity of this team matches that of the USA v. Scotland game on a consistent basis, it could be a possibility. Albeit, a very weak one, it is still remains a possibility.

4. Jacksonville Beach?

Jacksonville beach, photo by iknowjax.com
Jacksonville beach, photo by iknowjax.com

Now I’m just being creative, and maybe a little silly, but what other soccer team has that option? Now that’s marketability! It would be incredibly expensive and unless you found a spot near the Butler Blvd highway it wouldn’t be the most conveniently located, but that would be incredibly cool and I think a lot of people would show up to watch a soccer game by the beach. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, you can put this on my “long shot to EVER happen” list.

No matter how you slice this one, this is undoubtedly a very exciting time for the city, and I know soccer fans in the area are ecstatic about the news.

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