TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Good Place Is In Duval
“BLAKE BORTLES!” – Jason Mendoza
In many ways the Jacksonville Jaguars are a story of comebacks. Most recently famous as a pop-culture reference on the NBC show “The Good Place” for their history of being bad at football, the team from north Florida now find themselves as potential perennial contenders. Playing in front of packed crowds is once again the norm, and fan fever is at an all-time high. A star quarterback who graduated from UCF has helped lead this team to deep playoff runs, and now the fans are taking notice.
What sets the Jaguars apart, however, is their continued commitment to their fans. Known for being fan-friendly and fan-focused for many years, including their down years, the team has continued their commitment to enhancing the fan experience in Jacksonville, even with their recent run of success. What was once considered an average stadium now features a broad range of unique aspects that make TIAA Bank Field one of the more unique and enjoyable NFL stadiums to visit in America.
Indeed, one may also scoff at Jacksonville’s place as an NFL hotbed for fans, but the Jaguars’ faithful are starting to slowly turn that opinion around. And while success leads to more butts in seats, a consistently impressive gamely experience has helped keep those butts in seats for more and more games as time has gone by.
Food & Beverage 3
The food options at TIAA Bank Field are pretty standard for a typical professional sports stadium. Drinks start at $4 for bottled water (a must-have in the hot Florida sun), $5 for bottled soda or Gatorade, and $10-$12 for bottled beers. Various concessions stands also offer cocktails and alcoholic drinks.
On the food side, prices remain among the highest in the NFL; foot-long chili cheese hotdogs cost $12, while pizza runs $10. A small hot dog costs $5, an Asian BBQ skewer runs $11, and popcorn costs $7. BBQ sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and chicken tenders with fries all cost over $10.
The stadium does offer local food from local restaurants in the area, but options there are going to run equivalent to your standard concessions in price. There is a wide variety at TIAA Bank Field, but the price will hit you hard in the wallet.
TIAA Bank Field debuted in 1995, and features a popular late-90’s unfinished industrial vibe with lots of concrete. While stadiums and arenas like Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena feature similar aesthetics that have remained relatively untouched, Jacksonville’s stadium has seen several upgrades throughout the years. Most notably are the fan zones in the end zone areas of the stadium – the north end zone features a VIP suite deck area that includes two pools with clear sides that look out onto the playing field. The seating also feels more intimate with just two bowl levels, instead of the multiple levels like at more modern stadiums.
Thanks to recent winning streaks, the packed crowds of loyal fans has helped as well, as TIAA Bank Stadium rocks whenever the Jaguars score. On top of that, the team’s new rallying cry of “DUUUVAL!!!” (a reference to the city’s location in Duval County, Florida) hypes the crowd before key plays. Finally, the massively expanded HD video screens in both end zones feature game stats, replays, and information for fans that the old scoreboards couldn’t offer.
The neighborhood immediately around TIAA Bank Field is one of sports facilities and parking options; the home of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp is located quite literally in the parking lot of the Jaguars’ home stadium. Across the street you will find Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, home to both Jacksonville University athletics and the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, as well as arena football in the spring and summer.
Also nearby is downtown Jacksonville, which offers a bounty of food and shopping options. Not too far is the Jacksonville Beach area, where visitors can dip their toes in the hot sand and warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. That said, all those options are a short drive away, which means it may be a bit of a walk to get to them if you forgo driving.
The fans here are loud. Thanks to recent playoff success, the stands are no longer sparsely populated during home matchups. The home of the Jaguars sees some of the NFL’s key demographics swell in attendance as well, with young fans and women making up a large contingent of the fans in attendance. In addition, families are also taking advantage of the Jags being the 5th lowest average ticket cost, with many younger fans coming with their parents for some Sunday football.
While the fans may now be packing the stands at TIAA Bank Field and blowing the roof off with their roars, there seems to be the ever-present feeling that a downturn in the team’s success could lead to the emptier stadium of years’ past. However, until then, you can rest assured the NFL experience is once again alive and well in Jacksonville’s fanbase.
TIAA Bank Field is inherently very easy to find and get to. Located just across the St. John’s River from I-95 and just off US-1 alternates 228 and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, the stadium rises from the river’s shores. However, navigating the area is tricky, as the closest bridges are all a few lanes too small for game-day crowds – traffic backs up easily and heavily in the area before and after games when fans pack the small streets in and around TIAA Bank Field.
Parking on-site, while plentiful, will cost you upwards of $35 in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. Alternatively, public transportation options range from $7 to upwards of $10 for buses that pick fans up from designated areas in and around Jacksonville on game day.
Return on Investment 3
Ticket prices for NFL games are expensive for the average fan. Despite the Jaguars being among the most affordable tickets in the league, you still are looking at several hundred dollars for a family of four when tickets, parking, and concessions are all factored in. That said, the stadium experience in Jacksonville has improved considerably thanks to recent updates and continued success on the field.
During the game, the stadium honors local first responders and military members. Jacksonville is a big military city, especially with a large US Navy and US Coast Guard presence. The Jaguars also frequently have military flyovers before kickoff.
During the break in-between the third and fourth quarters, the team also honors an active-duty serviceman/servicewoman who has been recognized for an act of valor or recently returned from a deployment, by having them ring the Navy Mutual Bell. Located on the end zone mezzanine overlooking the field, the bell tolls and signals fans to rally behind the Jaguars heading into the final quarter.
In addition, there are cooling stations throughout TIAA Bank Field for fans that offer somewhere to sit and cool off on hot Florida game days; some of these include large bendy-buses with air conditioning on full blast. Furthermore, outside the main entrance on the west side of the stadium sits a massive Jaguar statue that fans can take photos of.
On the same side of TIAA Bank Field as the statue sits the Veterans Memorial Wall. Dedicated in 1995, the memorial honors more than 1,500 Jacksonville area veterans and war heroes from all six service branches (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, and Merchant Marines).
Finally, during the pre-game ceremonies Jaxson de Ville (the team’s mascot) performs stunts like zip-lining into TIAA Bank Field from the top of the lighting towers, thrilling fans and getting everyone into the mood for exciting football.
The Jaguars were once the butt of many a joke in the NFL. Considered the odd team out whenever playoff scenarios were presented, the Jaguars have turned around their recent luck and become a successful team once again – the fans have returned in droves and make this a game day experience to see whenever traveling to Florida.
With continued local investment from the team’s ownership and the potential continued success of the team in Jacksonville, the future looks bright for the Jaguars and their loyal fans.
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