While Jacksonville’s biggest professional sports franchise is inarguably the NFL’s Jaguars, the city has a rich history of hosting successful sports teams that long predates the arrival of the Jags.
Jax has hosted several championship-caliber franchises over the years. Some helped pave the way for future teams, while a few are still in operation here today.
We’ve compiled a list of the best minor-league professional sports franchises to call Jacksonville their home. Let us know if you agree or disagree!
The Barracudas were the most successful of several attempts to bring minor-league hockey to Jacksonville. The team struggled with finding stability, bouncing between leagues and even home arenas, but the one thing they managed to do relatively consistently was win.
The ‘Cudas began play in 2002 in the ACHL, a league that would exist for just one season before falling apart. It then moved to the WHA2 for the 2003-04 season – that league would also last exactly one season, but the Barracudas brought Jacksonville its first pro hockey title by winning the league’s first and final championship series.
Local investors took over the team and it joined the SPHL. Finally finding themselves in a stable league, the Barracudas would make the playoffs in three out of four seasons. The team advanced to the SPHL championship round twice, losing both times.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough fan interest in the ‘Cudas for them to stay around. Despite their success, the team was forced out of the Veterans Memorial Arena and relegated to Jacksonville Ice for its final season. When that venue proved inadequate, the team folded permanently.
Though they didn’t last long, the Barracudas brought Jax its first hockey championship and left the door wide open for the city’s newest hockey franchise, the Icemen.