Design & Development

Jacksonville to receive ‘world-class’ stadium for Armada’s MLS Next Pro debut

Featured image credit: MLS

Jacksonville Armada has announced plans to deliver a “world-class” soccer specific stadium that will also serve as a first of its kind co-working space, after securing entry to Major League Soccer’s Next Pro competition.

The decisions take the club back to professional soccer for the first time since 2017, with entry into MLS Next Pro set for the 2025 season. Launched last year by MLS, Next Pro is a professional men’s league in the United States and Canada that aims to complete the pro player pathway.

Granted third-tier status by U.S. Soccer in the domestic pyramid, Next Pro entered its second season in 2023 with 27 teams, all affiliated with MLS clubs. Seven were new in 2023, with additional clubs set to join in the years ahead, including Carolina Core FC, Jacksonville Armada FC and Cleveland. 

The Armada is seeking to break ground on the stadium in January. It will be located in the heart of Jacksonville’s Eastside and the Sports Entertainment District that also houses EverBank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Jaguars.

The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union said the club in September selected locally-based firm Kasper Architects + Associates to design the project. Robert Palmer, who acquired the club in 2017, said the venue would be developed in two phases using entirely his own funds.

The first stage, costing between $30m (£24.3m/€28m) and $35m, envisions the delivery of a 2,500 to 3,000-seat stadium in time for the club’s MLS Next Pro debut. The second stage, which Palmer said would raise the cost to $60-80m, would expand the seating capacity above 10,000.

Palmer added in a statement: “Without question, the Armada need a permanent home. Our fans who have stuck with us for almost a decade deserve it; as does Jacksonville and all Northeast Florida. So, I am honoured to announce that we are building, in the heart of the Downtown Sports District and the Eastside Community, a world-class soccer specific stadium.

“In addition to housing team operations and providing a place to watch our games, the stadium will serve as a first of its kind co-working space anchored by LPT Realty, the fastest growing real estate brokerage in history.”

Charles Altchek, president of MLS Next Pro, said: “Growing the sport of soccer is a foundational pillar for MLS Next Pro and the addition of strong independent clubs is critically important to that.

““It was clear from the beginning of our conversations with Robert Palmer and the Armada that their priorities are aligned with ours, most importantly their commitment to the passionate fan base in Jacksonville.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Armada to the league and look forward to seeing the impact they will have both on and off the field, particularly in their local community.”