Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp Make Big Splash

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

There are few things as quintessentially American as baseball. And nothing says Florida like a big, heaping plateful of jumbo shrimp. By bringing them together, the newly rebranded Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp became the most talked about minor league baseball campaign in recent history drawing the same passion as loaded bases in the bottom of the ninth. But as twilight wanes on the Jacksonville Suns, fans wonder what now?

Well, batter up. The 2017 season will unveil a the renovations to the ballpark, menu changes that reflect the new team name and new merchandise store. Marco LaNave, media and public relations manager for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp talked to EU Jacksonville about bending public opinion with a working class shrimp and the “fun”damentals of rebranding in a city hellbent on tradition.

“It’s all about the fun,” says LaNave. “For people looking at teams around Minor League baseball, there will be some fun sounding series like the Jumbo Shrimp against the Biscuits or the Blue Wahoos or the Shuckers. Our merchandise manager has been working on orders nonstop.”

homecapThe 2016 season was the first under Ken Babby’s ownership, and he was quick to employ a series of changes to increase the fan experience. LaNave says those included changes in the ticket structure, and a $1.8-million investment in ballpark renovations. Tickets still start at just $5 and ticket plan holders get the same (and more) benefits. Players and field staff are still from the Miami Marlins organization, and the Jumbo Shrimp are playing the same schedule in the Southern League.

“A lot of what was done around the ballpark was really new and different than what had been done before,” he says. “Those forces came together to create an identity that represented Jacksonville and what we’re all about.”

Babby took over the franchise in September, 2015, and wanted a name that could encapsulate the best parts of the city. The St. Johns River, the city’s rich military history, and the tasty goodness of the local seafood industry created a winning trifecta.

“How do we integrate into the community? How do we make this ballpark a community gathering place where people can come for safe, affordable, family-friendly entertainment? It’s important for everything we do to connect to the people we want to welcome to the ballpark every night.”

Ken Babby, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Owner Ken Babby

“Getting to know Jacksonville, and the management team [talked] with residents, community members, [and] fans about what makes Jacksonville unique, what is Jacksonville’s identity and heritage? At the same time, our focus was affordable family fun. That’s what we want to create as an experience for everyone that comes to the ballpark.”

LaNave says it was important for fans to participate in the process to ensure a sense of team ownership. The more involved they were in the process, the easier the transition would be.

“Learning from fans and community members was not only important for us to make this transition, but also important for us from a business perspective. With many of us coming from other places around Florida and the country [we] were looking for answers as to what is Jacksonville about and how do we survive both as residents and as a business?” he says.

2017homewhite

“How do we integrate into the community? How do we make this ballpark a community gathering place where people can come for safe, affordable, family-friendly entertainment? It’s important for everything we do to connect to the people we want to welcome to the ballpark every night.”

“Jacksonville is a big city with a small-town feel. The colors red, white, and blue represent the military tradition here and the unique geographic feature of the St. Johns River,” says LaNave. “The water runs through our logos and wordmark lettering that will be on our jerseys. With all of it, again–the logo, the name–people have smiled and laughed. And that is what we intend to happen at the ballpark.”

As Florida’s largest city terrain-wise, Jacksonville is known as a “big small town” with a unique geography as the River City on the First Coast. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp represents those themes and expresses the fun of Minor League Baseball by embracing the heart of Jacksonville’s identity and heritage.

Peter Bragan Sr. in first class of Southern League Hall of Fame
Former Owner Peter Bragan Sr. in first class of Southern League Hall of Fame

“This exciting announcement turns the page on a wonderful time in Jacksonville’s baseball history that will never be forgotten and reaffirms our commitment to the First Coast. We understand the rich tradition of this region and wanted to embrace it in a way only Minor League Baseball can,” says Jumbo Shrimp General Manager Harold Craw. “The Jumbo Shrimp brand is built directly from the Jacksonville’s community heritage and allows us to integrate and bring to life what we are about – affordable, family, fun.”

Social media exploded in the wake of the team’s announcement, and fans quickly adopted the moniker #CrustaceanNation in a show of solidarity. The name change generated an electric buzz with passionate appeals from both camps.

logo“We’ve definitely paid attention on social media and been quite engaged. The #CrustaceanNation hashtag has been growing organically,” he says. “For the announcement itself, we carried it on our Facebook Live stream so people could see it happening in real time and could get a look for themselves.”

Many naysayers wondered aloud ‘what was wrong with the Suns’? But after a brief getting-to-know you period, even some of the harshest critics were able to embrace the change and see how the best of the city is represented in the new logo of a scrappy, muscular jumbo shrimp shaped like a “J” in colors that honor the rich military history.

“Jacksonville is a big city with a small-town feel. The colors red, white, and blue represent the military tradition here and the unique geographic feature of the St. Johns River,” says LaNave. “The water runs through our logos and wordmark lettering that will be on our jerseys. With all of it, again–the logo, the name–people have smiled and laughed. And that is what we intend to happen at the ballpark.”

JacksonvilleSuns

“The Jumbo Shrimp brand is built directly from the Jacksonville’s community heritage and allows us to integrate and bring to life what we are about – affordable, family, fun.”

A Jumbo Shrimp holding the state of Florida is a secondary mark. A third logo is the Shrimp Boil mark celebrating affordable family fun with the resilient Jumbo Shrimp fighting his way out of a cauldron. St. Johns Navy, Patriotic Blue, American Red, and Shrimp make up the team’s new official colors.

At the ballpark, the team name, colors, and look on the field are not the only changes fans can expect as part of the new identity. LaNave says the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp will make a special announcement regarding expanded menu options that further incorporate jumbo shrimp.

“A lot of people have asked whether we’re going to serve shrimp at the ballpark. We actually did serve shrimp at the ballpark this past season and will be expanding that with a new menu that we’ll announce as we get closer to the season. It will definitely be integrated into what people can expect at the ballpark,” says LaNave. “It’s both a show and a tell. When the news of the name first came out, that was only part of the story. It’s all about the name, the logos and the uniforms and how it all goes together. I think that will open people’s eyes quite a bit.”

About Liza Mitchell