Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party features BBQ contest, more

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by Cole Pepper
October 17, 2013

For the third year in a row, I’m partnering with the folks at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena (SMG and Savor) to create the Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party. This year, the festivities have expanded. This is a great, family friendly event that offers visitors to Jacksonville and residents a chance to kick-off the Florida-Georgia Weekend on Friday, November 1.

Food Trucks will serve lunch in front of the Arena starting at 11am. Some of Jacksonville’s best known and celebrated food trucks will be on hand, showcasing their culinary skills. A portion of all food sales goes to support Daniel kids.

Turner Pest Control sponsors the Cornhole Tournament. You may sign up to compete online.

Live music from Ivey-West Band, Firewater Tent Revival, and Something Distant.

New this year, a flag football tournament at the Shipyards. Teams can sign up online as well via JaxScene.com

The 3rd annual Florida-Georgia Weekend Block Party BBQ contest will feature some of the best BBQ teams from the area competing for the Keith Hall Memorial Trophy and a spot in the Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships. Once again, team entry fees go to support Daniel kids. If you would like to compete in the event, you may sign up online, or want more information on the BBQ contest, you can find it here.

The evening culminates with the Cousin Catfish Pigskin Jamboree at the Shipyards with a concert from Corey Smith and Sister Hazel. Tickets for the concert are available online.

Jacksonville Hopes for NASL Team Today

photo: downtownjacksonville.org
photo: downtownjacksonville.org

by Cole Pepper

Jacksonville is makings its pitch to be home to a professional soccer team today.

Meeting in Dallas, representatives from the Sunshine Soccer Group, the city and the chamber of commerce hope to impress league representatives enough to land an expansion team to begin playing in 2015.

Among those in attendance are Mark Frisch of the Sunshine Soccer Group, who has been a vocal advocate of adding a professional team along with Alan Verlander, the Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment for the city as well as business owner and downtown advocate Tony Allegretti.

This would not be the first time that Jacksonville was home to a soccer team, but unlike past forays into the sport, this could be a stepping stone to eventually add a second major league sports franchise in Jacksonville, the MLS.

“I think we’ve established ourselves as a soccer community,” Verlander said. “When you look at all the club players from six years old to high school, there are thousands of soccer players here. I think its only a matter of time when its going to happen.”

If Jacksonville gets the nod, one of the first questions that must be answered is where the team will play. EverBank Field is likely too large for most games, although, some games could be played there. Jacksonville University, UNF and the Baseball Grounds have all been considered in preliminary conversations. If an MLS team becomes a real possibility, a stadium with seating capacity of somewhere between 18,000 and 25,000 would have to be built.

As for the possibility of the MLS, attendance and corporate support of the NASL team will be two major factors in making that case. I’ve been told that averaging around 8,000 per NASL game would be enough to make the case for the MLS. Most MLS teams average between 14,000-22,000 per game, with the Seattle franchise leading the way averaging over 40,000.

Of course, Shad Khan’s recent purchase of Fulham of the English Premier League adds another layer to the soccer landscape of Jacksonville. A set of matches involving Fulham, the Jacksonville NASL team and two other squads could make for an interesting week of soccer on the First Coast.

We could know this week if Jacksonville will get the franchise, then the real work begins. Already, Sunshine Soccer Group has set up a website for deposits for season tickets, hoping that that will help the pitch.

Florida Sports Hall of Fame Ceremony Set

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by Cole Pepper

Chipper Jones had his #10 retired by the Braves on Friday. Then, on Saturday, it was time for the Suns to give away his bobble-head, complete with his Bolles uniform. Now, Jones and the rest of the Class of 2013 will be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame on August 10 at the Times-Union Center in Jacksonville.

The ceremony was originally scheduled for April, but there was difficulty in getting all of the inductees schedules lined up.

Chipper Bolles
Chipper Jones (pictured in high school at Bolles) will be among the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2013.

Among the class to be inducted: Jones, former Florida Gators and Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, The PLAYERS champion Mark McCumber, football coaching legend Corky Rogers, tennis star Brian Gottfried, Olympic gold medal swimmer Brooke Bennett, NBA star Tim Hardaway, NASCAR legend Leeroy Yarbrough, and rodeo star Pete Clemons.

Taylor was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, the team’s ring of honor, last year. Rogers is in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Florida High school Athletic Association Hall of Fame and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.

The class has a strong Jacksonville flavor. Jones played high school baseball at Bolles, Taylor is one of the greatest players in Jaguars history, Gottfried lives in Ponte Vedra Beach and Rogers coaches at Bolles.

Individual tickets to the ceremony start at $20 and VIP packages that include a reception with the inductees can be purchased for $100. For more information on sponsorships and VIP packages, contact the City of Jacksonville Sports & Entertainment office at (904) 630-3697. Tickets can be purchased online at the Florida Sports Hall of Fame website.