Atlantic Sun Conference moving headquarters to Jacksonville

In a May 8 news conference, officials also announced the launch of the Jacksonville Sports Foundation.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 6:06 p.m. May 8, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The Atlantic Sun Conference
The Atlantic Sun Conference
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The Atlantic Sun Conference announced May 8 that it is relocating its headquarters from Atlanta to Jacksonville, a move praised by city leaders as a step toward boosting sports tourism in Northeast Florida.

In a news conference at City Hall, officials also announced the launch of the Jacksonville Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will work to bring more sporting events to Jacksonville.

Michael Corrigan, president and CEO of Visit Jacksonville, said the twin announcements signaled progress in efforts to make Jacksonville “Florida’s championship city.” 

Jeff Bacon

ASUN, the athletic conference for 12 Southeastern schools, will relocate this summer from Atlanta to headquarters in an office plaza south of St. Johns Town Center across Butler Boulevard. The move will bring the conference’s 15 staff members to Jacksonville, said ASUN Commissioner Jeff Bacon, and will make ASUN the only NCAA Division I conference rooted in Florida. 

Bacon said the conference decided to uproot from Atlanta for reasons that included the rising cost of living, which caused challenges in recruiting staff, and a crowded college athletics environment.

“You get drowned out in a city of 7 million people sometimes,” he said.

Bacon said ASUN looked at six cities before choosing Jacksonville. He said the city won out for reasons such as a lower cost of living, good schools and a location close to member schools Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida.

ASUN plans to complete its move by Sept. 1.

Bacon said the relocation creates an opportunity to bring some of the conference’s 23 championship events to Northeast Florida, where it recently held its women’s lacrosse championship tournament. 

The Atlantic Sun Conference announced the move on its website. Its offices will be south of St. Johns Town Center.

The Jacksonville Sports Foundation was created through legislation created by City Council President Ron Salem to transfer $1.5 million from the Tourism Development Council to Visit Jacksonville to boost sports tourism. The Tourism Development Council oversees hotel bed tax revenue.

Ron Salem

Salem joked about the announcements being held on a “very slow sports day,” referring to news that broke hours before the media conference that the framework of an agreement between the city and Jacksonville Jaguars on the team’s “Stadium of the Future” would be delivered at the start of the May 14 Council meeting.

Turning serious, Salem called the foundation’s launch and the ASUN move “two historic sports moment for our city, making a significant milestone in our journey to become a sports hub.”  

Corrigan said the foundation would focus on attracting major and minor sports to Jacksonville in venues across the city, from the under-renovation J.P. Small Memorial Park ballfield in Durkeeville to EverBank Stadium.

“The foundation will work to bring everything from archery to Zumba to Jacksonville, working in partnership with Visit Jacksonville, the city Sports and Entertainment Department, the parks department and entities all across our city,” he said. “So far this year, we’ve already bid on 14 NCAA Division I and Division II championships, and yes, we bid on Division I men’s basketball. We’re waiting to hear the results of that.” 

Mayor Donna Deegan said Jacksonville draws $178 million in annual revenue from sports tourism, including from Donna Marathon Weekend. Deegan founded the annual running event, which draws participants from all 50 states. 

“By working together, we can leverage our collective resources, expertise and enthusiasm to further maximize the positive impact of sports tourism in Jacksonville,” she said. 



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