- Lloyd Brown
John Sessions Stadium - Jacksonville Dolphins
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
John Sessions Stadium River Rd Jacksonville, FL 32211
Jacksonville Dolphins website John Sessions Stadium website
Year Opened: 1994 Capacity: 2,000
Dolphins In The Dugout
Jacksonville University is one of two Jacksonville area educational institutions that are members of the Atlantic Sun Athletic Conference. It was founded in 1934 and has had a baseball program since 1957. The school has produced 16 All American baseball players and has appeared in 14 NCAA Regionals in its history. The Dolphins have also won three Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championships, as well as four Atlantic Sun Tournament Championships.
John Sessions Stadium has been home to the Dolphins baseball program since 1994. It has a capacity for 2,000 fans.
Food & Beverage 3
Every school has a concession stand in its stadium. However, only Jacksonville University can lay claim to having the only con-“Sessions” stand. This play on the name of the stadium is beloved by Dolphin fans. Other than that distinction, it serves the basic baseball far. The menu includes hot dogs ($3), popcorn ($3), candy ($2), cracker jacks ($3) and Coca-Cola brand products ($3 for a fountain drink and $4 for a bottled soda). Bottled water is $2.
John Sessions Stadium has a beautiful setting along the St. Johns River. Like most coastal Florida stadiums its field is at ground level, with the seating bowl elevated above it due to the shallow water table below the surface. When you enter the stadium, you will be entering a lower concourse, which houses the team store the con-“Sessions” stand and the restrooms. Formerly this was a very plain nondescript area filled with bare concrete walls. Renovations have greatly improved the atmosphere of this section with a virtual history lesson on Jacksonville baseball.
The seating bowl is elevated about 8 feet above the field. This offers you a wonderful overview of the action. The seating consists of molded plastic seat backs throughout the bleachers. While providing excellent support, the plastic tends to get very hot in the Florida sun. The bleachers on the third base side of the field have a great deal of shade provided from some overhanging oak trees and are the most popular to sit in.
Jacksonville University tends to keep the focus on the game as far as the use of its PA system. You will not hear a theme song for every hitter when they come to the plate. It is just the basics… announce the hitters, player changes and a summary of the inning. This is a refreshing respite from the overproduced experiences at other college stadiums.
Since opening in 1994, Sessions Stadium has undergone a number of renovations and upgrades. The latest took place in 2014 and included basic needs such as new dugout rails, and the replacement of netting and padding on outfield walls. To enhance fan experience, the facility implemented a program to update the look of the stadium by adding several murals depicting the history of the Dolphins baseball program and featuring artwork resembling baseball cards of each of the 16 All American from the Jacksonville program. A new seating plaza was also built along the third base line for use by the program’s major donors.
The campus surrounding Sessions Stadium is very beautiful and natural in its setting. It offers spectacular views of both the St. Johns River and the Jacksonville skyline in the distance. Tall oaks draped in Spanish moss dominate the academic campus and provide a natural canopy of shade from the hot Florida sun. It is well worth exploring both before or after a game. Make sure you visit the two Dolphin sculptures in front of the administration building. They make a great backdrop for a selfie and they often are decorated for a special occasion on campus (graduation, homecoming, football or basketball season, etc.).
The area outside the gates of the campus have little to offer in the way of attractions or fine dining. Merrill Road is a four lane road primarily filled with auto shops and fast food outlets. We suggest you travel to either downtown Jacksonville (3.5 miles away) or St. Johns Town Center (10 miles away) for a much broader selection of things to do.
Jacksonville University refers to supporters of its athletic programs as dol-fans. You will see plenty of dolphin-themed attire throughout the stadium. The baseball team draws very well from the student body as well as the parents of the team members. There are several schools in the Atlantic Sun Conference located close by and as a result there are several rivalry games each season that pack the stands. However, the biggest rival has to be the University of North Florida, which is less than 10 miles away. These games are included in the tabulation for the River City Rumble, a competition that lasts throughout the academic year. Points are earned for each game won in every sports competition between the two schools.
The Dol-fans are assisted in their cheers by Dunk ‘N and Nellie, the two costumed dolphin mascots. When a run is scored or when a rally by the other team is shut down successfully, the “fins up” cheer and salute are given.
Jacksonville University is easy to get to via I-295, the ring road that passes to the east of downtown Jacksonville. You would simply take the Merrill Road exit and head west for six miles. Merrill dead ends at the intersection with University Boulevard and the main entrance to the campus will be directly in front of you. After checking in at the entrance, simply continue straight on the campus road. You will pass the Student Union Building on your right. As you come down a gently sloping hill you will see the St. Johns River head of you. The street will bear to the right as you get near the river. John Sessions Stadium and its parking lot will be on your right. There is no charge for parking.
Return on Investment 4
The return on investment for games at John Sessions Stadium is excellent. All tickets are $5 and are General Admission. This allows you the opportunity to select a prime viewing spot in the bleachers or a spot offering you the most shade from the sun. Either way, there literally is not a bad seat in the house. Parking at the stadium is free of charge. The con-“Sessions” stand offers a wide variety of items at very reasonable prices. You can also find the latest in Dolphin fashion at the Gameday Shop in the stadium.
The Student Union building on the hill above the outfield walls provides a great place to observe the game from outside the stadium. It has a shaded deck with chairs and is a favorite viewing location for the students.
The artwork and graphics on the lower concourse deserve another extra. It has brought life to what was a very plain area of the stadium and provides a wonderful history lesson on Jacksonville baseball.
The stadium offers a marine animal-themed playground in case the youngsters get restless during a game.
The setting along the St. Johns River is one of the most picturesque in college baseball.
The Jacksonville Dolphins play in one of the most picturesque stadium locations in college baseball. Add a beautiful view of the river to a stadium surrounded by oaks covered in Spanish moss and you are in for a very relaxing day at the ballpark. It is no wonder that the student body, the “Dol-fans” flock to the games on a spring afternoon.