JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Marking their inaugural season with a 23 percent attendance increase, national promotional notoriety and three Southern League awards, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are quickly becoming a premier organization in baseball and the sports industry. On Monday, Sports Business Journal named the Jumbo Shrimp one of five finalists for "Sports Breakthrough of the Year" in its 11th annual Sports Business Awards.
The Sports Business Awards recognize excellence over the past year, with 17 categories ranging from "Sports Event of the Year" to "Best in Sports Technology". Nominees are invited to a red-carpet ceremony and awards gala on May 23 at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. The Jumbo Shrimp are the only Minor League Baseball club among the 80 nominees of individuals, organizations, venues, media and other entities in the sports industry.
In the "Sports Breakthrough of the Year" category, the Jumbo Shrimp's fellow nominees are Barstool Sports, Kobe Bryant's Granity Studios, Mercedes-Benz Stadium's Food & Beverage Experience, and Overwatch League. Last year, Fanatics won "Sports Breakthrough of the Year" for its impact in the sports licensing industry.
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp identity drew nationwide attention in the wake of the Nov. 2, 2016, rebranding announcement. Less than a year later, the Jumbo Shrimp were named the 2017 Southern League Organization of the Year and won the Southern League Promotional Trophy.
"Northeast Florida's enthusiastic response to Affordable Family Fun was the breakthrough that put Crustacean Nation on the national landscape," said General Manager Harold Craw, who was voted the 2017 Southern League Executive of the Year, becoming the first African-American to win Executive of the Year for any league in Minor League Baseball. "Our hardworking, creative and passionate front office and ballpark staff look forward to delivering outstanding guest experience and entertainment at the ballpark beginning again on April 11."
In 2017, attendance increased by a Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville record 23 percent to more than 325,000, and average attendance was Jacksonville's highest in nine years. The opening homestand of 41,276 was the highest-attended series in the ballpark's history. The total jump of more than 61,000 from 2016 to 2017 was the largest increase for a Double-A ballpark and second-largest of any ballpark in domestic Minor League Baseball. With more than a dozen shrimp options on the menu, the ballpark was featured on the Travel Channel show "Food Paradise". The club also won the June and August Minor League Baseball Promotion of the Month for its Jumbo Shrimp Neck Pillow Giveaway and Silent Movie Night.
UP NEXT: The Jumbo Shrimp open the 2018 season presented by Community First Credit Union on April 5, in Jackson, Tennessee. The 2018 home opener is Wednesday, April 11, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Tickets are now on sale for individuals and groups by calling a Jumbo Shrimp account representative at (904) 358-2846 or at the ballpark Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
ABOUT THE JUMBO SHRIMP: The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp offer affordable family fun at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Their inaugural season garnered the Southern League's Don Mincher Organization of the Year, Promotional Trophy, and Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year, won by General Manager Harold Craw. To experience the excitement with the terrific value of ticket and group options, call the Jumbo Shrimp at (904) 358-2846 or visit www.jaxshrimp.com.