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  • Matt Colville

Shoreline Field at Shoreline Park – Pensacola Football Club


Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Shoreline Field at Shoreline Park 800 Shoreline Dr Gulf Breeze, FL 32561



Year Opened: 2022

Capacity: 500

 

Shoreline Soccer in the Breeze

Pensacola Football Club was formed in 2013 as a soccer club in the National Premier Soccer League. The NPSL is a lower-level soccer league with 93 clubs as of the 2023 season. Pensacola FC competes as one of 6 teams in the Gulf Coast Division of the NPSL.


The club has switched leagues several times throughout the years, swapping back and forth between the Gulf Coast Premier League and the NPSL, but in 2021 Pensacola FC exclusively joined the NPSL, while the club also has a women's team that competes in the GCPL's women's division.


The GCPL is another lower-level soccer league with men's and women's teams competing in the Gulf Coast region. PFC is also affiliated with a local soccer academy, also called the Pensacola Football Club, where they train future players. The mascot for the PFC is a Pelican, and the club is sometimes referred to as the Pelicans.

For the first 10 years the Pelicans played at Ashton Brosnahan Park, a soccer-specific complex on the north side of the city, but beginning in 2023 the club moved across the bay to the sleepy town of Gulf Breeze and took up residence at the brand-new Shoreline Field at Shoreline Park.


Gulf Breeze is a small town separated by bridges that sit at the end of a peninsula, just across the bay from downtown Pensacola. To the north, you have the hustle and bustle of metro Pensacola, while to the south you have the popular resort town of Pensacola Beach. Gulf Breeze sits right in the middle of the two, providing an affluent suburban beach community with a small-town feel.


Food & Beverage 2

There is one main concession stand located on the bleacher side of the field. Shoreline Field is part of a city-owned park, so expect the basic style setup like you would see at a local rec league baseball or soccer game. If you come hungry you can find the normal offerings of hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, and candy, but not much else. The one plus is they will bring in two food trucks for select matches, although at the most recent game I was at they didn’t have any food trucks.


Atmosphere 4

The City of Gulf Breeze has over 500 acres devoted to recreation in the city, with the centerpiece being Shoreline Park. Located right on the Santa Rosa Sound and overlooking the skyline of Pensacola Beach, the beautiful park takes up 133 acres of true coastal paradise.


The park is separated into two distinct parks: Shoreline Park North and Shoreline Park South. Shoreline Park South consists of a boat ramp, fishing pier, picnic areas, and miles of hiking trails through the Florida wetlands, while to the north you have a beautiful state-of-the-art sports complex consisting of 10 lighted tennis courts, an 18-hole disc golf course, 2 beach volleyball courts, several outdoor basketball courts, a skate park, batting cages, a playground, 10 multi-purpose athletic fields, and a Community Center with meeting rooms and two indoor basketball courts. The sports complex, rec center, city hall, and library are also all located right next to each other, creating a tight-knit community.


The newest addition to the Park and Rec's facilities is the opening of Shoreline Field, which opened in late 2022. The new field replaces an earlier field on the same property that was used to host the city's youth league football, soccer, and lacrosse games. The original field was damaged when Hurricane Sally struck the Gulf Coast in 2020.


The new Shoreline Field was built using grant money and includes new metal bleaching seating, light upgrades, and a new, state-of-the-art artificial turf field lined for football, lacrosse, and soccer configurations. The Shoreline Field pitch runs east and west with metal bleacher seating on the south side and the team benches on the north side. The five sections of metal bleachers are 10 rows high, with three sets of bleachers designated for the home side and two sections for the away team.


It is a small operation run by the staff during matches. The game day staff is run by academy students from the Pensacola Football Club. The staff does an excellent job at transforming a city youth field into the home of a minor league soccer club, however.


About two hours before the match, I observed a couple of players and academy students hanging Pensacola FC banners on the bleachers and mounting flags all along the street leading up to Shoreline Field. In addition, the academy players took tickets, worked the concession stands, and even have a tent set up in front of the bleachers selling t-shirts and various merch.


Neighborhood 4

The City of Gulf Breeze is a mostly residential community, located on a peninsula that separates Pensacola from Pensacola Beach. It is mostly a bedroom community with residents commuting to Pensacola, so there is not a lot here in terms of industry. Because of this, Gulf Breeze has a small-town feel where everybody knows everybody.


There is also plenty to do in terms of recreation – around Shoreline Field you have the city's sportsplex, where there is plenty of activity going on in the summer months. Tennis, disc golf, skateboarding, a splash pad, batting cages, and basketball courts are just a few of the options people have. You also have the indoor rec center on the property, which hosts a wide range of activities such as basketball, pickleball, jazzercise, yoga, and a summer camp for kids.


Across the street you have even more options; a boat ramp, fishing pier, two dog parks, a picnic pavilion, and miles of walking trails make up the property, with gorgeous views of the skyline and condos on Pensacola Beach in the distance. At all times of the day, you will see people launching boats and people fishing off the end of the pier.


The walking trails are also popular for biking, jogging, and wildlife viewing, and provide two different trails through two distinct Florida ecosystems – you have the paved trail that goes through the Florida forest, and the brand-new elevated boardwalk that goes over the Florida wetlands, and empties to a small beach area. Live oaks, magnolia pines, and palm trees surround you as you walk down the covered pathway, which makes for a great place to stretch or get some shade before the match or during halftime.

The city recently opened a new elevated boardwalk trail that traverses through the Florida wetlands, and you get to see how this area looked before development. Black Bears, alligators, exotic birds, beavers, and snakes are just some of the wildlife you may encounter on the trails at Shoreline Park South.

For other outdoor attractions in Gulf Breeze, the Gulf Islands National Seashore has a 1,300-acre protected forest nearby that includes numerous trails, piers, and campgrounds with beach access, as well as an interactive learning center. Andrew Jackson Road, the first road in Florida, runs right through the seashore and includes an access point to Gulf Breeze Bluffs, a hidden spot known only by locals.


The Bluffs include stunning views of Pensacola Bay from the north, and if you are brave enough, a 60-foot rope swing to the water below. Another popular spot to walk or ride a bike is Three Mile Bridge, which separates Gulf Breeze from downtown Pensacola – the lighted bridge just re-opened fully after years of repairs and makes for a popular evening stroll during the summer months.


For restaurants in Gulf Breeze, you won't find much besides a few fast-food chains such as Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Whataburger, but just across the bridge in either direction, you have a ton of different restaurants. My recommendation would be to go out to Pensacola Beach where you have a ton of different seafood restaurants; you will find everything from five-star dining to local beachside restaurants, nightclubs, and hole-in-the-wall pubs – Pensacola Beach has it all. For hotels, Gulf Breeze has several chains just down the road, but for more a wider range of options, I'd recommend going to Pensacola or Pensacola Beach.


Fans 3

Pensacola FC averages about 300-500 fans per home match and attracts a wide following of different people. When the women's team in the Gulf Coast Premiere League plays expect more fans than when the Pensacola FC men's team in the NPSL plays – this is because the Pensacola FC women's team is made up of a lot of local players, and the teams in the Gulf Coast Premiere League are within proximity, so matches often attract a large number of visiting fans.


Gulf Breeze is also a very walkable city, so during the summer months, you will often find people out and about enjoying the Florida evening breeze. I found many people gathering around the field who just happened to be wandering by and stopped to check out the play going on.



Return on Investment 4

Tickets for matches are $10 – because of the setup, it is possible to view the action from around the field without paying, which many people do. However, you cannot access the concessions or merchandise tent without paying for a ticket. I consider this a good return on investment, even though you aren’t likely to see any future World Cup players out on the pitch, but coming to Gulf Breeze is a cool hidden gem of a city to visit.


Pensacola Beach is also just over the bridge, about five minutes away, so if you are looking for something to do in the summer months and like going to the beach, you can experience Florida outdoors and attend a sporting event in a coastal setting. I highly recommend visiting Gulf Breeze and attending a Pensacola FC match.


Access 3

Getting to Gulf Breeze should be a breeze; coming from out of town shouldn't be an issue with the city located just over Three Mile Bridge from downtown Pensacola. Highway 98 is the main road that runs through the city, and the huge park sits directly behind Gulf Breeze Elementary and middle school, right off Highway 98 on the affectionately named Shoreline Drive.


Unfortunately, the Pelicans play their matches during the summer months, so you will always be fighting beach traffic, as Highway 98 can back up substantially between the two bridges headed out to the beach; consider this if attending a Pelicans match.


Extras 3

During the 2023 season, the Pelicans played a home match during a Blue Angels flight show on the beach – the famous jets have their summer training base at Pensacola Naval Air Station a few miles away. During the second week of July, tens of thousands of people congregate on Pensacola Beach to watch the Friday and Saturday shows, many of them camped out overnight and pay $50 to $100 just to park.


Unless you leave early it is almost impossible to get out to the beach this weekend unless you have a boat, so instead of fighting beach traffic, you can watch the Blue Angels from Shoreline Park. The boat ramp and pier provide an underrated viewing area that only attracts a few hundred locals – during my visit, I was able to watch the famous fighter jets perform their maneuvers from Shoreline Park, and then I walked across the street to watch the soccer match.


Another popular activity to do at Shoreline Park is UFO watching; Gulf Breeze achieved some fame in the 1980s when a local man claimed to encounter a UFO in his neighborhood. Maybe it was activity from nearby Pensacola Naval Station, but this stretch of the gulf has had hundreds of UFO sightings over the years, with many sightings at Shoreline Park. Local skywatchers often gather at the park at night in the hopes of a close encounter, so be looking up towards the sky if you take an evening stroll on the pier after a Pelicans match – you may even see a UFO.


Gulf Breeze also has a large black bear population, so be on the lookout if walking along the Shoreline Park South trails during the evening, especially during the summer months. The bears typically do not pose a threat to humans, but I advise caution regardless, and you should never feed the bears.


Another extra for all the world-class facilities and amenities that Gulf Breeze has provided the community over the years. The amenities are endless at Shoreline Park, with so much to offer you can't possibly experience everything in one day.


For a small Florida town, the Gulf Breeze Parks and Rec Department run some of the finest indoor and outdoor recreation facilities in the entire state, so if you are in Pensacola and need a break from the beach for a day, then coming to Gulf Breeze and experiencing Shoreline Park and a Pensacola FC match makes for a great option.

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