Sure, we’re a football town. But until the Jags get back on the field, you’ve still got plenty of options
The Suns are much more sensible in their promotions than other hardball teams — the Seattle Mariners once offered free compost (seriously), and the Chicago White Sox’s Disco Demolition Night inspired a riot. But we still can’t help but chuckle at the Suns’ plans to welcome “Elvis Himselvis” and celebrate Jimmy Buffett Night (players wear Buffett-style jerseys, which are auctioned off to benefit Wolfson Children’s Hospital), all in the span of three days, June 19-21. The hometown double-A squad is perhaps best known for its regular Thursday Night Throwdowns (“Buds for a Buck” and discounts on cocktails). When paired with College Ticket Discount Night ($5 admission), you can be sure the Baseball Grounds will be rocking every Thursday night, and probably hungover every Friday morning. More than 50 home games remain through Sept. 1 at Bragan Field, 301 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Downtown, $6.50-$25.50 for single-game tickets, jaxsuns.com.
Local sports fans might feel like the city’s in a football nadir, but they’re looking in all the wrong places. Yes, the Gators were once-in-a-generation awful last season, and the Jaguars remain locked in a very, very long rebuild (Bortles to the rescue!). Meanwhile, like Bruce Willis in an action flick, the Jacksonville Sharks don’t even know how to fail. Since beginning play in 2010, the Sharks have won their division every year. They claimed the 2011 ArenaBowl championship and earlier that season celebrated quarterback Aaron Garcia’s 1,000th touchdown pass (not a misprint!). Some of these Sharks’ stats are so ridiculous, they sound made up (they’re not, I swear). The Sharks got off to a slow start this season, dropping five of their first seven games and sitting at 3-6 after their loss to Orlando on May 17, but don’t worry: They’ve got another nine to get their groove back — including a Monday night home tilt on July 14 against New Orleans also televised on ESPN2. Home games are June 7 and 28, July 14 and 26 at Veterans Memorial Arena, 300 Randolph Blvd., Downtown, $12-$133 for single-game tickets, 621-0700, jaxsharks.com.
U.S. SOCCER SENDOFF MATCH
If you were one of the other 44,437 fans in the stands with me in 2012 when Landon Donovan and the U.S. sent those demoralized Scots back across the pond, give yourself one more pat on the back. That scene — raucous as it was — can’t compare to what we’ll experience on June 7, when Team USA takes on the Nigerians in a pre-World Cup sendoff match. The American stars will then be flying to Brazil and that “Group of Death” (scary, right?) with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Send them off in style by making EverBank Field rumble. And hey, a sellout crowd could put Jacksonville in position to attract a World Cup match the next time FIFA brings the tournament to the U.S. Just don’t act like a hooligan. 6 p.m. June 7 at EverBank Field, 1 EverBank Drive, Downtown, $30-$350, 633-6100, jaxevents.com.
THE ST. JOHNS SUP RUSH
If you don’t remember what’s SUP (see what we did there?), we’ll tell you. It’s standup paddleboarding, and you might recall our editor’s struggles with it — recounted in this year’s Outdoors Issue [“The Standing is the Hardest Part,” Jeffrey C. Billman, Feb. 25] — but don’t worry. You’re definitely more coordinated than he is. [Ed. note: Watch it, Johnson.] The three-race SUP Rush series is a collaboration between Black Creek Outfitters and the Rudder Club of Jacksonville (well-known for its 61 years organizing the Mug Race). The SUP series continues with divisions for beginners (1.5 miles), intermediates (3.5 miles) and elites (7 miles), 8:30 a.m. June 7 and Aug. 23 at The Rudder Club, 8533 Malaga Ave., Ortega, thestjohnssuprush.com.
BEACHES FINE ARTS SERIES TRIATHLONS
Artists and athletes might seem a strange combination. But they’ve worked well together since 1986, when the Beaches Fine Arts Series began a triathlon series to support its free concerts, arts exhibits and educational programs. Thousands have competed in a series now sanctioned by USA Triathlon. Even before BFAST added the Olympic distance, I’d watch swimmers come out of the Atlantic Ocean in the sprint triathlons tired but determined, with a 16.8-mile bike and 3.4-mile run still ahead of them. The sprint distance proves the ideal entry point for many of those just joining the sport, but the race has attracted its share of pros as well. Race series continues 7 a.m. June 14 (sprint only) and July 12 (sprint and Olympic) at Naval Station Mayport, $40-$50, bfasracing.org.
GREATER JACKSONVILLE KINGFISH TOURNAMENT
The kingfish tournament out of Sisters Creek is the Granddaddy of Them All — the largest of its kind in the country. But few moments are as entertaining as watching the junior anglers fish their tournament during the week, carrying kingfish bigger than they are off the dock. While the main event attracts massive 30-foot-plus boats, the little guy can still win it all, as Northeast Florida fishing legend Fred Morrow proved in 1995 on his 15-foot skiff. As clichéd as it sounds, the charities are the true winners. Jacksonville Marine Charities organizes the event and reports that it’s raised more than $650,000 over 33 years. Those funds have gone to (among others) the St. Johns Riverkeeper, Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute and Safe Harbor Boys Home. Tournament week, July 21-26 at Sisters Creek Park & Boat Ramp, 8203 Heckscher Drive, Northside, kingfishtournament.com.