121 Financial Ballpark – Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
121 Financial Ballpark 301 A. Philip Randolph Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32202
Year Opened: 2003
121 Financial Ballpark - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Following the reorganization of Minor League Baseball coming into the 2021 season, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp saw themselves receive a promotion from their parent club, the Miami Marlins. The Jumbo Shrimp would move from the Double-A Southern League to the Triple-A International League.
At a capacity of 11,000 fans, 121 Financial Ballpark was the largest AA ballpark, and it seemed to be too large of a stadium for the level, so a move from Double-A to Triple-A only made sense.
No matter the classification, the Jumbo Shrimp have long been known as one of the most innovative organizations in Minor League Baseball, providing an entertaining evening at the ballpark.
Food & Beverage 5
All the typical baseball favorites are available at each of the concession stands around the stadium. Hot dogs, burgers, pizza slices, and a litany of fried foods. Soft drinks come from the Pepsi family of beverages.
When looking for specialty menu options, each concessions stand around the concourse has its own theme and featured items – for example the All American Jax has the Duval Heavy Hitter, consisting of six chicken tenders, fries, nacho cheese, bacon bits, topped with green onions served in a batting helmet.
Alternatively, Southern Fried Freebird has a multitude of fried foods, including several offerings featuring fried shrimp, while Sweet Tea-Bows unexpectedly offers baked cheese ravioli and BBQ pulled pork pizza as their featured items. Hand grilled sausages can be found at the Sausage Fest-Duuuuuval cart, a play on the Duval County which is a common call and response from Jacksonville Jaguar fans.
For a bit more of an adult experience at the game, the Wheel House Lounge on the suite level, and Tiki Terrace in left field, provides fans with fully stocked bars and views of the game.
Along with the usual suspects of Bud and Miller beers, the Jumbo Shrimp have their own branded Kolsch style beer from the nearby Intuition Ale Works. The Craft Cave also provides an extensive selection of adult beverage options; brews from Sun King Brewery, the aforementioned Intuition Ale Works, Voodoo Ranger, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, Aardwolf Brewing, Fishweir, and Veterans United Craft Brewers are all available at the Craft Cave, under the third base side of the grandstand. Seltzers, canned mixed drinks, wines, and Twisted Tea are also available for non-beer drinkers.
Overall the Jumbo Shrimp provide a wide selection with their food and beverage options, from a slew of specialty food items to a deep selection of craft beers and drinks.
Fans enter at field level, then climb stairs to the main concourse. The concourse extends from just off the cut of the infield grass on the third base side around to right center. Stairs from the right center bleachers lead down to the kids’ inflatables section, around to the grassy seating areas in left field and Tiki Terrace, before heading back to the grandstand.
The picnic and grassy areas along the third baseline, around to the Adirondack chairs behind the chain link fence in left center field, is a very popular area to watch the game from. There is not a lot of space for kids to get out and move around in the grandstand, but this area provides some relief from the confines of the ticketed seats.
The outfield wall configuration is a bit of a throwback to the days when stadiums were built to fit the city block they were on. With a low right field wall reminiscent of that at Fenway Park, at just 317’ home runs feel like just a bloop away. To compensate for short fences to right and left field, centerfield is a deep 420’. The confines of the playing area create opportunities for home runs and balls into the far reaches of the gaps.
When choosing the ideal seats, keep in mind that the sun sets behind the third base side of the stadium, so the right field bleachers can be a bit challenging to deal with until the sun sets. The berm areas, down the left field line and around to left field, are popular with families, but can get a bit crowded. If just wanting to have a seat to watch the game from and not have to worry about moving at any point, then anything on the third base line is a good option. If moving is not much of a problem, however, then the outfield bleacher tickets would be perfect.
The Jumbo Shrimp have long been known for the fan friendly atmosphere they create – their gate giveaways and theme nights are typically held in the highest regard by their MiLB peers, for their originality and fun nature.
121 Financial Ballpark is in the sports complex area of Jacksonville, sandwiched between TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and VyStar Veterans Memorial Stadium, which the Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL), Jacksonville Sharks (National Arena League), and Jacksonville Giants (American Basketball Association) all call home. The stadium is just a few feet from the baseball club’s former home, Wolfson Park, that was razed to make room for the Jags’ outdoor practice field.
The area has a very sporty feel to it with the surrounding stadiums and the handful of pre and postgame entertainment options; That Sports Bar at the Arena, Intuition Ale Works, and Tap Room are all just steps from the ballpark.
After one season in AAA, Jacksonville ranks in the middle third of teams in attendance, averaging just a tick under 5,000 fans per game. This is consistent with their draw while they were AA members of the Southern League.
Weekend games typically draw over 8,000 fans, which creates a distinctive vibe throughout the stadium as you pass around the concourse. Many fans come showing their support for the Jumbo Shrimp decked out in the team’s shirts, jerseys, or any of the several gate giveaway items.
Overall, most fans seem to be engaged in the game and are supportive of the Jumbo Shrimp.
121 Financial Ballpark is not directly off any of the major interstates that pass through the Jacksonville area, but downtown Jacksonville does not seem to be extremely congested with traffic on weekends. Arriving early makes parking easier when accessing the lots around the stadium.
Parking is readily available around the ballpark. A multi-level parking deck sits directly across the street from the front entrance of 121 Financial Ballpark, while the back side of the stadium has several parking lots that are part of the TIAA Bank Stadium complex.
There is enough parking close to the stadium to leave fans with just a short walk; golf carts also offer a shuttle for those who might need some assistance.
The stadium’s main entry point is the home plate gate, but can get crowded in anticipation of gates opening. There are also secondary entry points on each side of the stadium.
Return on Investment 4
Standard general admission tickets start at $8 for advanced, in-person purchases, with a $2 service fee applied to online sales; tickets do jump to over $20 a ticket when moving to the grandstand. The general admission tickets offer both a reasonable price and, if sitting in the outfield bleachers, still provide an up-close vantage point for the action on the field.
If purchased ahead of time, in person, the fees can be avoided.
Jacksonville does have a significant Navy population, and offers discounted tickets for both active and retired service members.
There are several options of tickets for differing game experiences, but if all you want is an affordable ticket to watch baseball, the general admission ticket will suit you fine.
The Jumbo Shrimp do a lot in recognition of the baseball history of Jacksonville; support beams around the main concourse feature some of the stars who have made a stop in Jacksonville on their way to the majors. The field level concourse also honors the Legends of Jacksonville baseball through their Wall of Fame – the honor recognizes players, managers, and those who have significantly impacted the Jacksonville baseball landscape. Instantly recognizable names include Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, and Randy Johnson, to name a few.
The bar top at Tiki Terrace has a really cool feature in that it has used minor league baseball cards of the Jacksonville Expos, Suns, and early Jumbo Shrimp players to create the bar’s surface.
AAA baseball is using the ABS Challenge system for their Friday, Saturday, and Sunday contests; ABS (Automatic Ball Strike) games allow players three challenges of umpire ball/strike calls throughout the game. If the call is overturned the team retains their challenge, while if they are wrong they lose one of the three. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday games use an automated strike zone.
Given the layout of the ballpark and its proximity to the streets outside the stadium, those looking to channel their inner Zack Hample can try their luck chasing down baseballs during batting practice from outside the stadium.
The Jumbo Shrimp understand that at the origination level, their job is to entertain the fans, and it is their parent club who is responsible for the product put on the field each game. Jacksonville does an outstanding job making an evening at the ballpark well worth the experience no matter if you attend for the game on the field, the entertainment aspect of the atmosphere, or any combination of the two.