It was a strong debut season for the Jacksonville Armada, as the team drew good crowds at the beginning of the season to EverBank Field and then set a Community First Park attendance mark to conclude the 2015 campaign.
Owner Mark Frisch has emerged as a leader in NASL as the chairman of the league’s Board of Governors, as the team enjoyed a high level of success at the box office in 2015, despite a schedule that saw matches split between Community First Park (the name for the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville when used for soccer) and EverBank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. From Jacksonville.com:
The club started by setting a NASL preseason attendance record of 13,934 at EverBank Field in its first match, a 3-1 exhibition victory over the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer on Feb. 7.
An even bigger crowd of 16,164 attended the regular season opener against FC Edmonton, a 3-1 win at EverBank Field that set a league attendance mark as Jemal Johnson scored after only 12 seconds.
The numbers tapered off somewhat during the fall as the team’s initial on-field success began to dissipate, although the Nov. 1 season finale against Fort Lauderdale was a sell-out with more than 9,000 tickets distributed.
Still, playing at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville long-term may not be in the works. The team’s main tenant, the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League), underwent an ownership change at the end of the 2015 baseball season, and the team’s lease runs only through 2017. However, the team is planning to play its entire 2016 season, exhibitions and all, at Community First Park. The longer-term issue is a new facility for the team, whether it be a standalone stadium or a stadium that’s part of a larger soccer complex. A plan for a $25-million complex fell apart earlier this year; it could be revived.
Image courtesy Jacksonville Armada.