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  • Brian Baer / sabeephotos@sacbee.com

    When the action on the court gets depressing, as it sometimes does, Sleep Train Arena fans migrate to the concessions stands.

  • Brian Baer / The Sacramento Bee

    Grant High School football players storm onto the field before a home game against Del Oro High School on Sept. 21, 2012, at Rutherford Stadium – a communal coliseum in Del Paso Heights.

  • Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Sacramento River Cats players take batting practice on media day last year on April Fool’s Day. The team has been a consistent winner for the 14 years at Raley Field.

Sporting venues to soak up Sacramento’s atmosphere, a game

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 - 4:43 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Sacramento offers a sporting scene and venue for all sports, ages and experiences. Football your flavor? There are venerable old stadiums with upgrades to go with tradition. Baseball in a baseball town? Basketball at all levels?

Sleep Train Arena – Yes, it’s a dump, but it’s our dump, and it’s been festive and a record-breaking loud spot with stomping, cow bells and chants of “Sac-ra-mento!” It’s been a haven for highlights with Vlade Divac and Chris Webber, and the site for profound heartache (therapy sessions still available for the Game 7 overtime loss to the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference finals). It is also the only NBA venue in the country also used for high school championship events.

Raley Field – There’s a reason why the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s annually leads minor league baseball in attendance. It’s not so much the score that matters but the experience, the site lines and affordability of family fun, though winning has been a staple for the River Cats over 14 seasons. High school and college games are also held at Raley.

Hughes Stadium – Once inside the timeless cinder-block facility on the Sacramento City College campus, you can close your eyes, touch the walls and feel the tradition. The Oakland Raiders won their very first game in franchise history here, an exhibition in 1960 when the AFL used small venues across the country to drum up interest. High schools have drawn crowds of 19,000 people for playoff football games and 25,000 for spirited Turkey Day Thanksgiving games in the 1940s and ’50s between rivals McClatchy and Sacramento. And Jackie Robinson set long jump records there before his baseball fame.

Grant High School – The social epicenter in Del Paso Heights over the decades for people young and old makes for a melting pot of diversity as football fans converge on Rutherford Stadium. The action on the field has the backdrop of Grant’s spirited and award-winning drum-line.

Dave Hotell Pavilion – On the campus of Sacramento High, the old place holds its charm with upper-deck seating and a scoreboard out of the 1930s. Wilt Chamberlain played in a 1963 exhibition game in a packed gym when the NBA was desperate to generate interest (he scarfed down a cake and a pie at halftime for a sugar rush before dominating the second half). The retired jersey on the wall belongs to Mayor Kevin Johnson, who led the state in scoring in 1983 for the Dragons.


Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his “Extra Point” every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson



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