SFMA Seminar on Wheels Jacksonville Jaguars
All photos by Robert Augsdorfer

2024 SFMA Seminar on Wheels recap

By Robert Augsdorfer

This year’s SFMA Seminar on Wheels went up the Florida coast to Jacksonville on January 22 to visit Everbank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the adjacent practice facility, with additional stops at Flagler College in St. Augustine and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

Everbank Stadium has been the home of the Jaguars since they entered the NFL in 1995 and has hosted numerous events over the years including Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, college football bowl games, Monster Jam and concerts.

Mark Clay currently oversees the five acres of sports fields and common areas including the stadium and the practice facility, which consists of two natural grass fields and an indoor synthetic field just northwest of the stadium.

The practice facility originally had three natural grass fields, but was rebuilt and reopened in the spring of 2023 with two fields due to spacing issues. The new practice facility now houses team offices along the east side and an indoor facility on the north side with a full workout facility and synthetic field. The practice facility also has a brand-new irrigation system for the natural grass fields. The irrigation system is controlled in a room under the grandstands that run along the south side of the practice fields.

SFMA Seminar on Wheels Jacksonville Jaguars

On the south end of the stadium, there is another indoor synthetic field, which now serves as a backstage area for Daily’s Place, a concert venue adjacent to the stadium. Clay mentioned that the field is no longer used for team practices, but will be used for gameday activities for fans.

The tour of the Jaguars’ facilities not only included the fields, but also the shop areas where the field crew keeps their equipment and the paint room. The Jaguars were also gracious enough to give a behind-the-scenes look at their gameday locker room facilities.

The next stop on the tour was the athletic facility for Flagler College (NCAA Division II), which included the soccer, softball, baseball and lacrosse fields. The soccer and softball fields are natural grass with a skinned infield for softball, the baseball field has a synthetic infield with a natural grass outfield and the lacrosse field is all synthetic.

The facility is in the care of Brad Hernandez, facilities and game operations coordinator for Flagler College, with some help from Kyle Hutchings, a contractor and owner of AgrowPro.

The soccer field was opened in 2002 and had upgrades in 2010 with new windscreens, sound system and upgrades to the bench areas and seating expansion in 2013. The current locker room facilities were completed in 2011. There is also a practice field for soccer beyond the outfield wall of the softball field.

SFMA Seminar on Wheels Flagler College

The softball field was opened in 2009, but received a new scoreboard in 2013 and, in 2023, an LED lighting system and sod behind home plate and along the dugouts were installed.

The baseball field originally opened in 2000 and was dedicated in April 2011, named in honor of St. Augustine native Walter Irvine Drysdale. In 2015 a synthetic turf infield was laid down except for the pitcher’s mound, which remains a traditional clay surface. The synthetic surface extends a few feet into the outfield where it stops, and natural grass covers the rest of the outfield along with clay warning track. According to Hernandez, the ballfield offers a challenge for left-handed power hitters with a high rightfield wall which Flagler’s Athletic Director, Jud Damon, an avid Boston Red Sox fan, has dubbed the “red monster.”

The lacrosse field is the newest field at the facility, having opened in 2021. The synthetic field was installed by SCG Fields with BrockFill infill. The field also features a new LED lighting system. In addition to lacrosse, the field also hosts intramural athletics.

Future projects at Flagler College include installing LED lights for baseball and soccer and renovations to parking, concessions, restrooms and locker room facilities.

SFMA Seminar on Wheels Embry-Riddle

The final stop was Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (NCAA Division II) next to Daytona Beach International Airport. Their fields include baseball, softball, soccer (both a game field and a practice field), a track and field complex and a synthetic turf field for lacrosse. There is also a synthetic turf softball field with a significantly smaller seating capacity.

The complex was originally built in 1994, the soccer field was completed in 1995, baseball in 2000, track in 2006, softball in 2011 and lacrosse in 2012. All fields are in the care of Jason Maldonado and span 25 acres.

Robert Augsdorfer is assistant editor of SportsField Management magazine.