Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Hornet Stadium 6000 J St Sacramento, CA 95819
Year Opened: 1969
The University of California, Sacramento (i.e. Sacramento State) is a member of the California University System and is located in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento, California. It was founded in 1947 and presently has a student body of 29,046.
The sports teams at Sacramento State are known as the Hornets. The football program at Sacramento State is relatively young, as it began in 1954. It began as a member of the California Athletic Conference, then moved on to the Western Football Conference and the America West Conference. In 1996 it became a member of the Big Sky Conference at the FCS level of NCAA competition. In recent years the program has been a powerhouse, with conference championships in 2019, 2021, and 2022. The 2022 squad finished at #5 in the end-of-year FCS polls.
The team has also posted wins over PAC 12 members Oregon State and Colorado in past years. The rivalry game each season is played against the University of California at Davis. The game is known as the Causeway Classic and the winner takes home the Causeway Classic trophy and bragging rights to their campus for the next year.
The on-campus Hornets Stadium serves as the home field for the football program. It opened in 1969 and has gone through numerous upgrades over the years. It has a capacity of 21,195 making it one of the larger stadiums at the FCS level.
Food & Beverage 2
The WELL concessions area is located behind the north end zone and is the only place in the stadium that offers food and drinks. The food and beverage selections are sold via food trucks and tents that are set up in temporary tents. We’ve never seen a grandstand for a stadium this big without permanent concession facilities underneath the stands, or at least closer to where fans are sitting. The setup at Hornets Stadium is quite a distance away from the stands and results in the fans missing a great deal of the action while they are waiting in a long line.
We do have to admit that the food trucks provide more variety in the items that they sell, but this does not overcome the inconvenience for the fans of missing time from the game.
Hornet Field has some oddities to its design that take away from the atmosphere of the game. The track is a necessity for the school’s excellent track and field program. However, anytime a track encircles a football field it places a great deal more space in between the fans in the stands and the action on the field. This makes it harder to hear the game itself and the connection between the team and their fans.
The stadium has the Broad Fieldhouse at the south end of the stadium, while the north end of the field is bordered by the WELL Center (Sacramento State’s Wellness facility). Both buildings are a great distance from the stands, depriving fans of being able to see them very well. This breaks down the excitement of seeing the home team take the field as well. The distance between the stands and the WELL Center creates a problem for fans wishing to get a bite to eat and missing the action on the field.
Also, the tickets in the west stands (the “home” side”) are all reserved seating, while the west side (the “visitor’s” side) are general admission seats. Why would the visitor’s tickets be cheaper than the home team’s tickets?
Hornet Stadium is located on the south end of the Sacramento State campus and is for the most part, surrounded by academic buildings. There are numerous restaurants, shops, and hotels surrounding this end of the campus.
The closest hotels to the campus are Hampton Inn and Suites at CSUS and the Comfort Inn and Suites at Sacramento University Area. Giovanni’s Old World New York Pizzeria is a popular eatery on Folsom Street, while Stingers Sports Pub and Bar is a popular watering hole adjacent to the campus.
Sacramento offers many things to see and do before or after a Hornets game. The American River forms the eastern border of the Sacramento State campus. It has an excellent hiking/biking trail paralleling the river or offers rafting in season. To the west of campus is downtown Sacramento. Places of interest here are the California State Capitol Building, the California State Railroad Museum, and Old Sacramento. Your game may overlap with a Sacramento Kings NBA game at the Golden One Center.
The student section at Hornets games is known as the SWARM and they do a great job at keeping the stands buzzing throughout the contests. They work closely with Herky the Hornet, the school mascot, and with the Sacramento State Marching Band.
Don’t be surprised when a cannon goes off after each Hornet touchdown or field goal.
Hornet Stadium is easily accessed via Highway 50 or Business 80 in the Sacramento area.
From Highway 50: Take the exit for Howe/Power Inn Road. Veer right at the California State University, Sacramento entrance onto Hornet Drive. At the traffic light, take a left onto College Town Drive. Hornets Stadium will be on your right.
From Business 80: Take for J Street. Make a left on J Street and go 4 miles. Enter the front entrance to the Sacramento State campus. Turn right on State University Drive North. Hornet Stadium will be on your left in ½ mile.
Parking areas open four hours before kickoff, leaving you plenty of time to explore the Sacramento State campus or find your seats in Hornet Stadium.
Return on Investment 3
Most seats at Hornet Stadium are considered general admission seats. They are priced at $18 for adult seats and $8 for youth (ages 3-12) seats. There is a $2 ticket fee added to that. Section 213 along the 50-yard line is considered premium seating and costs $43 plus a $2 ticket fee.
Parking costs $10 on gameday.
Hornets Stadium was the site of one of the wildest games in FCS history during the 2022 FCS playoffs. The Hornet's game against the University of the Incarnate Word was marked by countless changes in the score. The game ended in a 66-63 win for the visitors, ending Sacramento State’s dream season.
The stadium is heavily used by the Sacramento State track and field program as well. It has hosted numerous major meets, including the US Track and Field Olympic Trials twice, and the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships on two occasions.
Hornets Stadium has also served as the home field for two now extinct pro football teams. It hosted the Sacramento Surge of the World Football League (WFL), as well as the Sacramento Gold Miners of the Canadian Football League (CFL). This was the first time that a CFL team was based outside of Canada.
A visit to the Hornet’s Nest will provide an entertaining afternoon or evening for fans in California’s state capitol. After the game check out old Sacramento or the California State Railroad Museum.