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Jacksonville Sharks to open season in June, have full-capacity crowds

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks are back, and the arena league football team is hoping they have a full crowd there to see them.

The Sharks announced on Wednesday that they are planning on playing in front of a full capacity crowd in 2021. The Sharks, who play at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, are set to open their home schedule on June 12 at 7 p.m. against the Carolina Cobras.

Masks are not required, but “are encouraged for those who choose to wear them,” the team said in a release.

The decision to play in front of a full capacity crowd with no mandated safety restrictions comes after the UFC promotion came to Jacksonville last weekend and packed the house to the tune of 15,269 fans. Promotor Dana White said that the UFC said a VyStar arena gate record, and numerous fans that News4Jax spoke to said that they were grateful that the event brought back a bit of normal after 13 months of COVID-19 battles.

That event drew significant concern from different factions, with White’s hometown paper the Las Vegas Review Journal ripping the event.

“I am excited to see our championship-winning Jacksonville Sharks retake the field to a full crowd at the arena this June,” said Mayor Lenny Curry.

“The people of Jacksonville have been through so much in the past year and I am grateful to get back to the lifestyle we know and love in Northeast Florida. Thank you to the Jacksonville Sharks, National Arena League, and the hardworking team at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena for bringing live sports back to the River City.

The Sharks’ 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic. The team won the National Arena League championship in 2019 with a 15-1 record. The team averaged more than 7,000 fans that season.

“The decision to have fans back in the arena is awesome, we can’t thank Mayor Curry and the Governor enough. It’s been a tough year, not sure what we would have done without the support of our fans. We’re excited to get back into the arena and start playing some football,” Sharks president Steve Curran said in a statement.

For schedule and ticket information, see here.

Jacksonville Sharks schedule

Date, Opponent (all times 7 p.m.)

June 4, at Ontario Bandits

June 12, vs. Carolina Cobras

June 19, at Orlando Predators

June 26, vs. Albany Empire

July 10, at Carolina Cobras

July 17, vs. Columbus Lions

July 24, vs. Orlando Predators

July 31, at Columbus Lions


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.