The dog days of summer dont have to be dog days for sports fans in the Sacramento region. From soccer and football to baseball and horse racing, there are plenty of options for sports fans between the July 4 and Labor Day holidays.
Stay in town
River Cats: Sacramentos favorite minor-league baseball team offers dozens of special nights throughout the season, including Family Value Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, fireworks on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday Fundays, when kids are allowed to run the bases. Two cant-miss specials: Star Wars Night (Aug. 16) and Fan Appreciate Day (Sept. 1).
California State Fair horse racing: You wont see California Chrome, but the California State Fair will feature seven days of thoroughbred racing (July 11-13, 17-20) with post times of 1:15 p.m. (except 3:15 p.m. on Fridays.) Admission to the fair includes a full card of racing.
Republic FC: One of the biggest matches on the USL Pro expansion teams schedule will be July 17 against Orlando City SC at Bonney Field at Cal Expo. Orlando City SC, defending league champion, will begin playing in Major League Soccer next season. Expect Bonney Field to be packed with raucous soccer fans, so this will be a tough ticket to get.
California State Fair mens golf tournament: Even though the fair moved to early July several years ago, Sacramentos most prestigious amateur golf tournament remains a Labor Day Weekend fixture. This years 90th edition will be Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at MacKenzie Golf Course at Haggin Oaks. Past winners include Kevin Sutherland, Ken Venturi, George Archer and Al Geiberger.
Head to the Bay
Bay Bridge Series: The San Francisco Giants and Oakland As, again among the best teams in Major League Baseball, square off for a four-game series July 7-10. The first two games will be at O.co Coliseum in Oakland before the series crosses the bay for two games at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Could this be a preview of a Bay Bridge World Series?
Levis Stadium kickoff: The San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Sounders are expected to have a sellout crowd when they open the San Francisco 49ers new stadium on Aug. 2 in a showdown of MLS rivals.
49ers debut at Levis: The 49ers host the AFC Champion Denver Broncos in a preseason game on Aug. 17. Sure, its just a practice game, but its the first NFL game at the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara.
Big day for Jesuit: Levis Stadium isnt just for the NFL and MLS; Jesuit High Schools football team will play there later this summer, too. On Aug. 29, the Marauders will play national power De La Salle. The other game on the doubleheader is Manteca against Wilcox of Santa Clara.
Local college football in the Bay Area: UC Davis and Sacramento State will be tested early in the season, with the Aggies playing at Stanford on Aug. 30 and the Hornets visiting the University of California, Berkeley, on Sept. 6.
Cool off by the lake
American Century Championship: The 25th edition of the celebrity golf tournament, on the shores of Lake Tahoe at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, will be July 15-20. The tournament draws a field of sports and entertainment stars, and regular participants have included former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, actor/comedian Ray Romano, former NFL quarterback John Elway, former NBA star Charles Barkley, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and more than 80 others.
Reno-Tahoe Open: The PGA Tours annual visit, one of just 47 stops worldwide, will feature 132 pro golfers competing over four days (July 31-Aug. 3) at the Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno. Past winners include Scott Verplank and John Cook.
On the tube
The Kings go to Las Vegas: Second-year players Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum are expected to play in the NBA Summer League that opens July 11. Kings fan will be able to check out the backcourt duo and other young players with many Summer League games broadcast on NBA TV.
World Cup: Sacramento loves soccer, especially international competition, and it doesnt get any bigger than the World Cup in Brazil. Sacramento restaurants such as Streets of London (1804 J St.) and de Veres Irish Pub (1521 L St.) will be hopping, especially if the United States advances to the quarterfinals (July 4-5, Ch. 10 and ESPN), the semifinals (July 8-9, ESPN) and the championship (July 13, Ch. 10).
Basketball Hall of Fame: Induction of the Class of 2014, including former Kings guard Mitch Richmond, will be broadcast live by NBA TV on Aug. 7. Check out what Richmond has to say about his seasons in Sacramento.
49ers and Raiders openers: Both teams open the NFL regular season on the road on Sept. 7, with the 49ers at Dallas (1:25 p.m., FOX40) and the Oakland Raiders at the New York Jets (10 a.m., Ch. 13).
Call The Bees Tom Couzens, (916) 321-1097. Follow him on Twitter @tomcouzens.