Note: This is the latest in a series of stories about potential A11 Football League markets from the seven states the league has identified as going to have teams in the league’s first season in the spring of 2015.
Sacramento, California, has been one of the most underrated football markets in the United States for a long time. That despite the fact it is the 20th-highest television market in the United States, according to Nielsen. That makes it larger than more well-established football markets like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
California’s River City has been the home of multiple outdoor alternative professional football teams playing in three different venues. But each of these teams has enjoyed good fan support regardless of the inconsistent locations.
The most-often used football stadium in Sacramento is Hornet Stadium, home of the Sacramento State Hornets. Thanks to the United Football League, whose Mountain Lions played at Hornet Stadium for two seasons (2010-11), the 21,195-seat stadium now has a Field Turf surface. In addition to Sacramento State and the Mountain Lions, Hornet Stadium also has been home to the World League of American Football’s Sacramento Surge (1992), then the Surge’s Canadian Football League cousins, the Gold Miners (1993-94).
Hughes Stadium, whose capacity is close to that of Hornet Stadium, was the Surge’s home in its first season of 1991. And Raley Field, the home of the Class AAA baseball River Cats, was the Mountain Lions’ final home in 2012.
Sacramento football fans have shown their love for their pro football teams by putting up impressive attendance figures. The Mountain Lions routinely filled up Hornet Stadium, and were second in the UFL in average home attendance in their only full season of 2010, while the Surge got at least 15,000 in all five home games at Hughes in 1991 and no worse than 17,920 for the six home games at Hornet in 1992.
And the Sacto community also enjoyed the Canadian brand of football, as the Gold Miners drew at least 16,000 fans in six of nine home games in 1993.
BOTTOM LINE – Sacramento always has been a favorite outdoor alternative pro football market of mine, and has been since the WLAF Surge days. It was the pioneer market of the CFL’s American experiment, and it was a great city for the UFL.
Hornet Stadium is a good venue for an outdoor alternative pro football team, and Sacramento’s market size and proximity to both San Francisco and Oakland make it a desirable location.