Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
The Wolves’ Den 1801 E Cotati Ave Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Year Opened: 1968
Wine Country Volleyball
While the Sonoma area may be better known for being part of California’s wine country, or home to Sonoma Raceway, often overlooked Sonoma State University provides a sports haven for college athletics fans who don’t want to drive an hour or more to watch Cal. Here, inside the halls of Sonoma State’s The Wolves’ Den, you can watch some top quality college volleyball for a small price in the quiet serenity of wine country.
Food & Beverage 2
There isn’t much at the concessions stand, but thankfully it won’t break your bank either. Drinks are limited to water or soda for $2 or Gatorade for $3. For food, nachos ($4) and hot dogs ($3) are the biggest items, with popcorn ($1), candy ($1.50), chips ($1.50), or a cookie ($1.75) as the only other options available. Nevertheless, the staff are always friendly and helpful and the food never comes out cold. And unlike many small concessions stands, they accept credit cards without a purchase minimum.
The interior of The Wolves’ Den is reminiscent of 1980’s California architecture for large buildings. Giant concrete and cement walls, accented wood paneling for the ceiling, and sound-absorbing panels mounted on all the walls. With the acoustics inside, even a modest crowd can sound like a full house for Sonoma State. In addition, the close proximity of the seats to the benches mean the fans get a great view of the coaching staff during the game, as well as the bench.
There are few areas in the United States more beautiful than California’s wine country. Nestled outside of Santa Rosa, Sonoma State University is a campus with lots of foliage and greenery to contrast the brown of California’s hills in the dry months. There are countless wineries not far from the school, meaning your visit will be chock full of places to visit. Popular attractions include Jack London State Historic Park and Matanzas Creek Winery. For hotels, nearby locations include Graton Resort and Kenwood Inn & Spa. For eating, not much tops In-N-Out Burger in Rohnert Park or Sushiko.
The fans at Sonoma State are loyal like most colleges, and they cheer on their team as if they were a mid-major division I college. Most fans are family or friends of the players and staff, though there is a decent student turnout during most games. A lot of youth athletes will come watch as well, hoping to pick up some skills by watching college level play.
Getting to Sonoma State University can be a hassle thanks to California’s notorious traffic. Just a few miles away from Highway 101, the campus is on the east side of Rohnert Park. Once on campus, plenty of signs help direct you around the property, making finding the gymnasium easy to find. However, one must look for signs that say gymnasium and athletic facilities instead of something name-specific. Once you have arrived, parking is plentiful and free on site.
Return on Investment 3
Kids 12 and under are free to games, while visiting students pay just $5 with their ID. A reserved seat is $10 while general admission runs just $7. Adding this to the free parking on site and the inexpensive concessions, and you can take your friends and family out to watch college volleyball without spending a ton of money. While getting there is a bit off the main highways of the greater bay area, a visit can still yield an enjoyable time for fans.
Outside the arena’s entry doors lie the three main points of interest here. First is the massive trophy case for the school. From numerous athletic NCAA National Championship trophies to individual medals, these large cases show that Sonoma State is a school with a lot to be proud of athletically.
Across the hall from these cases is the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Here you can see some of the great names that have passed through Sonoma State’s halls over the years.
Beyond this, fans can step outside into the beautiful courtyard for a breath of fresh air under some trees. This quiet and serene spot is a lovely addition to the arena and contrasts the game action well just steps away.
Taking in a college volleyball game at Sonoma State University is something you can easily do for little out of pocket expense. Going to a game is a great option for the family, and the fun factor can be high for all attending as the game intensifies. Sonoma State may not be NCAA Division I, but they sure play and party like they are, meaning the fan experience is not one to be overlooked. Where some may see something average and uneventful, a visit to Sonoma State is always one that can leave even the most modest of sports fans with a smile on their face.