The Double-A Jumbo Shrimp baseball team has approved a long-term lease extension with the city that is expected to keep the team at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville through at least the 2033 season.
The Jumbo Shrimp announced the agreement Wednesday, saying it goes in effect immediately.
“Since assuming control of the team in 2015 it has been one of our top priorities to work on a lease extension that confirms our commitment to Jacksonville,” said Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby in an email to WJCT News.
The Jumbo Shrimp agreed to a 10-year lease extension with the city.
Under the terms of the lease provided to WJCT News from the City of Jacksonville, the Jumbo Shrimp will pay the city $240,000 for next season’s rent. The city is also entitled to additional surcharges.
Jacksonville Assistant General Counsel Craig Feiser said the amended agreement includes an annual three percent rent escalator, meaning in 2020 the rent will rise to $247,200.
The Jumbo Shrimp retain naming rights to the ballpark, subject to City Council approval, according to Feiser.
Babby renamed the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins from the Suns to the Jumbo Shrimp after purchasing the organization from the Bragan family.
Since then, attendance is up. In the Jumbo Shrimp’s inaugural 2017 season attendance rose 23 percent, according to the team. This year marked the largest single game attendance in ten years at 11,762 on July 3.
Average attendance for the 2018 season has been 5,037 in 63 openings.
The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville opened for the 2003 season. It was built at a cost of $34 million, according to baseballpilgrimages.com and was paid for as part of the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan that voters approved in 2000.
Since buying the team, Babby’s organization has invested more than $1.3 million in privately funded ballpark improvements including adding the Budweiser Tiki Terrace in left field, adding the drink rails and swivel seats in the Hot Corner, remodeling the suites, and extending the Wheelhouse Lounge on the BDO Suite Level.
The Jumbo Shrimp’s 2019 season will open on Thursday, April 4, against the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals at the Baseball Grounds Jacksonville.