10/06/2011 5:02 PM - JACKSONVILLE – Shark Nation can now mark their calendars for when their ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks will take the field next season, as the Arena Football League released its 2012 schedule on Thursday afternoon.
The team begins the year with the first of two bye weeks before commencing its title defense on the road in Week 2 against the Kansas City Command on Friday, March 16. The wait for local fans will end in Week 3 as the Sharks play the first of 10 home games on Saturday, March 24 against the South Division rival Georgia Force at Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The home opener – and every other Saturday home game – begins at 7 p.m., with SharkFest slated to start three hours before kickoff at 4 p.m. All Friday home games will kick off at 8 p.m., with SharkFest beginning at 5 p.m. At SharkFest, fans are able to enjoy free seafood from Beaver Street Fisheries, the official supplier of Sea Best Seafood and ride the 35-foot Shark Slide. Fans can participate in many more fun activites - like hair coloring and Shark tattoos - and receive giveaways courtesy of Sharks corporate partners.
Fans living outside the Jacksonville area will have plenty of chances to see the Sharks on television. Four of Jacksonville’s regular season games will be brodcast live on NFL Network’s Arena Football Friday. Of those four, two will be at home (Week 9 vs. New Orleans, Week 18 vs. Milwaukee) and two will be on the road (Week 12 at Orlando, Week 20 at Pittsburgh.)
Winners of back-to-back South Division crowns, the Sharks will work towards a third straight division title by facing each of their divisional opponents twice in 2012, playing the Force, the New Orleans VooDoo, the Tampa Bay Storm and the rival Orlando Predators at each team’s arena. The matchups with Orlando could prove pivotal, as each meeting will take place in the second half of the season - including the Sharks’ home finale in Week 19.
Other highlights of the schedule include home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Soul and the Cleveland Gladiators. In addition, both the Utah Blaze (Week 6) and the Soul (Week 15) will make their first-ever visits to Sea Best Field this season. The Sharks will benefit from a light travel schedule in 2012, as the team will not play a road game farther west than Kansas City.
A rematch of ArenaBowl XXIV will have to wait until the playoffs, however, as the Sharks and Arizona Rattlers will not square off in the 2012 regular season.
The Sharks will once again televise selected games on WCWJ-TV 17, with exact dates to be announced in the coming weeks. Please note that until the television schedule is finalized, dates and times of games are subject to change.
Before the regular season, the Sharks plan on holding another pre-season benefit game, with an opponent to be determined at a later date.
The Sharks’ 2012 regular season schedule is as follows:
Week 1: Bye
Week 2: @ Kansas City (Friday, March 16)
Week 3: vs. Georgia (Saturday, March 24)
Week 4: @ Tampa Bay (Friday, March 30)
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: vs. Utah (Friday, April 13)
Week 7: @ Cleveland (Friday, April 20)
Week 8: vs. Spokane (Saturday, April 28)
Week 9: vs. New Orleans (Friday, May 4)
Week 10: @ Philadelphia (Saturday, May 12)
Week 11: vs. Iowa (Saturday, May 19)
Week 12: @ Orlando (Friday, May 25)
Week 13: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday, June 2)
Week 14: @ Georgia (Saturday, June 9)
Week 15: vs. Philadelphia (Saturday, June 16)
Week 16: vs. Cleveland (Saturday, June 23)
Week 17: @ New Orleans (Saturday, June 30)
Week 18: vs. Milwaukee (Friday, July 6)
Week 19: vs. Orlando (Saturday, July 14)
Week 20: @ Pittsburgh (Friday, July 20)
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are now available, with two tickets available for as low as $135. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance.