Exploring the city of Sacramento reveals its true essence- a revitalized, charming city with a small-town feel. While there is so much to discover in the city itself, its central location offers easy access to surrounding havens. Sacramento sits just 90 minutes from Lake Tahoe and the mountains, 90 minutes to the coast of San Francisco, and an hour from Napa and the wine country. “We’re a big city that still has a small-town feel. We have all of the great things that California has to offer, but with an ease of access that you might not find in other large California cities. We really pride ourselves on having a rebel spirit and a can-do attitude. We are the state capital, and that’s been our identity for a long time, but for the last decade or so, especially downtown Sacramento has really begun to change and evolve,” says David Eadie, Director of Visit Sacramento Sports Commission. Take a trip to see for yourself all that is blossoming here, including Sacramento’s very own wine country!
The city’s crown jewel, The Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, revitalized the downtown core in 2016. The indoor arena was the result of a true grassroots movement by Sacramento citizens to keep their NBA team. The Golden 1 Center not only brought March Madness back to Sacramento and kept the Kings in town, but moved the arena from the city outskirts right to downtown. Today, it is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced and unique buildings in the NBA.
The city’s new Major League Soccer stadium is set to begin construction this year for the Sacramento Republic team to join MLS in 2023. “That’s going to be in a northern part of our downtown area called the Railyards, which has been a bit under-utilized. Projections are within the next ten years it could almost double the size of our downtown,” Eadie says.
Over the past decade, Sacramento has become a culinary hot-spot, with some of the best local, fresh cuisine in the country. “Our restaurant and culinary scene have been noticed nationally because we have so much farmland within an hour’s drive. We have some of the best chefs of the country relocate here and our dining scene has really been one of our featured trades,” Eadie shares. Each fall, their farm-to-fork festival attracts hundreds of guests. The festival culminates with a multiple course farm-to-fork dinner on the iconic Tower Bridge downtown. The bridge is shut down for the event, where several hundred guests enjoy dinner with some of the best chefs in the country.
At Sacramento State University, Hornet Stadium’s track and field venue is often used for major tournaments and events, such as the NCAA Championships. In 2019, the city hosted the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics at Hornet Stadium, and it is scheduled to host the USA Track and Field Outdoor Masters championships this coming summer. In 2022, the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships will return to Sacramento as well.
Sutter Health Park, their Minor League Baseball stadium, sits across the river in West Sacramento. As one of the premier minor league franchises in the country, this is a pristine spot to see a game. This spring, be on the lookout for a newly branded and completely renovated Safe Credit Union Convention Center. With increased square footage from its predecessor and a new ballroom space, the convention center will offer a substantial space to host more events across a variety of amateur sports.
Sacramento has announced that they will host the World’s Strongest Man competition this year, next year and a third year to be announced. This year’s event will run June 15-20. Event organizers made the decision to restrict fan access this year, but the event will air on CBS later this summer and they look forward to a great event with spectators in 2021.
On October 24th, 2021, the city of Sacramento is set to host their first ever IRONMAN California. The event sold out in record time and has the potential to be the largest full-distance Iron Man ever hosted. Depending on state restrictions at the time, the city is hopeful that this will be a celebration of returning to larger scale events. “We are really excited about the role that sports can hopefully play in getting things opened up and getting us back up on our feet. We have other upcoming events that we are hoping to announce soon,” Eadie comments.
For this bustling city, the next decade looks bigger than ever. This past October, Sacramento was selected to host seven NCAA Championships over a four-year period – the most the city has had in an NCAA bid cycle. They’re hosting March Madness in 2023, and women’s basketball regional rounds are coming back to Sacramento for the first time in more than a decade. For the first time ever, the city is holding a men’s and women’s Division 1 Soccer Championship, College Cup, at the new, yet-to-be constructed MLS stadium. Additionally, they’re hosting a couple of Division 1 track and field preliminary rounds and a Division 2 cross country championship, which they successfully hosted for the first time in 2019. As Eadie says, “There’s a lot on the horizon and we’re looking forward to getting out there and doing it.”
As a scenic headquarters for your California vacation, Sacramento offers the perfect, peaceful slice of the state, while also serving as an easy jumping off point to the rest of your wish list. When the time is right, folks are yearning to return to traveling and visit California. “Our number of events and scope hasn’t diminished. If anything, it’s increased as people are hungry to get back out there and do things. People are excited to travel as soon as they can safely. California, and specifically Sacramento, provides a really unique destination for these events and activities,” Eadie shares.
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