The CSU-Sacramento Hornets play in one of the smallest gyms in NCAA's Division I. This creates an intimate environment for the Hornets men's basketball team that routinely fill up The Nest to the 1,200 spectator capacity.
The Hornets Nest at Colberg Court has been the home to Sacramento State basketball and volleyball since it opened in 1955.
Sacramento State plays in California's capital city and competes in the Big Sky Conference. The conference is the home to many state universities with smaller athletic programs in the Western United States. Next year, Sac State's neighbor, UC-Davis , will join the conference as an affiliate member, participating only in football.
During this time of complete conference overhauls, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has shown interest in recruiting the Hornets into the FBS realm of college football. Some of the holdup has been the state of Colberg Court and the perception that it is unfit and too small in relation to other schools in the conference and in the division. After all the courting of universities and conferences it seems CSU-Sacramento is staying put in the Big Sky for the foreseeable future.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is nothing too exciting about the food and beverage options at The Nest. However, I did appreciate the straight forward nature of the menu and the reasonable prices.
Hot dogs ($4), polish dogs ($5), nachos ($3), popcorn ($1), chips ($1) and candy ($1) are the extent of the food options.
Bottled water ($1.50) and soda ($1.50), coffee ($1), Gatorade ($3) and Rockstar Energy Drink ($2.50) were the only beverage options, but again, at very reasonable prices.
My recommendation is to eat at a nearby restaurant prior and grabbing a cup of coffee at the game.
I didn't know what to expect when I traveled to Sacramento to see the Hornets play. I'd been to many basketball venues in the state's lesser conferences with decidedly mixed atmospheres. To top it off, it was a rainy Thursday and 8:00 pm tip.
To begin, the place was packed. Granted, the maximum capacity is only 1,200 persons but I was still pleasantly surprised. I often think that schools with passionate, yet small fan bases would be better suited for even smaller, intimate venues.
Many members of the other athletic programs were in attendance creating quite a buzz around the gym. It was also the night which the senior members of the Hornet cheer leading squad and dance team were recognized for their time at Sac State.
One could easily confuse Colberg Court for a high school gym as it is particularly small for a college venue and the atmosphere is definitely a social event. Granted, there are plenty of fans paying attention to the game but the social aspect is certainly strong.
There were two sections of seating, mirroring one another on either side of the court. Each section was only about a dozen rows high for the duration of its length, allowing great views no matter your seat.
One thing of note that I certainly took issue with. On one end line, against the wall, are what look to be at first glance, banners immortalizing great moments in Hornets history. Upon further review, they are nothing but sponsorship adds masquerading as relevant banners.
There are plenty of spots near the school to grab a bite nearby. Cafe 601 is on University Avenue and a popular destination for college students serving sandwiches and other to-go items.
Hoppy Brewing Company is the most popular brewery in Sacramento and serves regular pub food. Their beer can be found at retailers all around Northern California.
Though you can imbibe nearby the venue, if you have time, a trip downtown might be in order. You can visit the California State Capital, just five miles from the university as well as enjoy the rest of the downtown Sacramento area.
The Pilothouse and Moxie are good downtown restaurants if you're looking for sit-down restaurant while the Firehouse and Biba are upscale restaurants in Old Sacramento near the waterfront.
As the sixth-largest city in California, Sacramento has nearly half a million residents so it follows that there will be historical and social value in your surroundings.
As previously mentioned, the fans filled up The Nest for this weeknight game, and I was pleasantly surprised. Many of the fans in attendance were families, no doubt because of the affordable nature of a Sac State basketball game.
At one baseline there was a small group of students on sofas and a riser that were particularly rowdy. Some of the students were shirtless and waving flags.
I did think that the socialization during the game was a tad inappropriate due to the close score of the game, but many, many other fans were engaged with the Hornets.
The fans seemed to really respond to the emotion of the players playing the game and that was due in part to the proximity of any seat to the action. When their star player was pumped up, so were they.
The university is easily accessible from highway 50 and just a few miles from the I-5 and 99 junctions. Unfortunately, the easy access ends there.
You almost need to have pre-existing knowledge of The Nest to know where it is. It is just a part of the bigger building complex and may take some investigating to find its actual location.
Though there are four doors leading to the court, only one of them is accessible for patrons. This one entrance can get rather crowded as it also is the main entrance to the building, has access to other parts of the building, houses the snack bar and restrooms, as well as displays the championship trophies of Hornets athletics.
Once you make your way through the threshold and into the gym you must walk in front of all of the spectators to get wherever you are going. This in particular made the gym feel particularly small as the bigger venues have fans enter from above and behind the seats.
This is by no means a top-flight college basketball team or conference but that doesn't mean it's not a great experience, and for a great price. General admission tickets are $10 with discounts available for seniors, students, and children. Parking is free on campus during the evenings and food, while not extensive, is certainly affordable.
The Nest at Colberg Court does not have any great awe aspects or intangibles that separate it from any other venue. I did enjoy perusing the trophy case but that was nullified by the silly banners displaying local and national sponsors.
What is nice is that it is an experience unlike any other I've experienced in Division I college basketball. The size of the gym certainly plays a roll in that, along with loyal fans.
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