- Ryan Norris
John Smith Field – Sacramento State Hornets
Photo Courtesy of The State Hornet
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29
John Smith Field
College Town Drive and Sinclair Road
Sacramento, CA 95819
Sacramento State Hornets website
Year Opened: 1953
College Ball in Sacramento
The Sacramento State Hornets baseball team plays at John Smith Field, an on-campus facility in California’s capital city. It was dedicated to the former manager in 2010 after 32 years at the helm of the Hornets program.
Though most of the Sac State programs play in the Big Sky Conference, the baseball team is the only one that plays in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Hornets appeared in two Division II College World Series in 1986 and 1988. They made their first ever appearance in the D-I NCAA Tournament in 2014 after winning that year’s WAC Tournament. The appearance was short-lived as they beat Arizona State before ultimately falling to hosts Cal Poly in the regional stage.
Food & Beverage 1
It’s the bare minimum at John Smith Field. Hot dogs, nachos, bottled soda and a variety of candy are served out of a trailer. A less than appealing prospect on a hot day. Most weekday games start at 3pm, fortunately between meals. Though not encouraged, I’m sure you can bring in water and small snacks as well.
There is nothing particularly unique about the Hornets’ home, although it is a clean, updated stadium and a fine place to catch a game.
Seating stretches from 3rd to 1st base and is mostly metal bleachers. With no covering, the seats can get extremely hot in the Sacramento sun. There are two rows in front of the bleachers that are reserved seats with flip down chairs. Most of the fans sat in general admission.
One added feature is the parking garage beyond the left field fence where some fans park at the top and watch from their lawn chairs. Unfortunately this is not the garage/lot that is free on game days.
The sagging “Sacramento State Hornets” banner in right-center field is just sad. The walk up music is loud and clear but is such a contrast to the dead silence of the crowd.
The baseball field is a part of the greater sports complex, very near the football, softball and soccer fields.
The closest bar is Stingers. It is your typical college bar that serves up food all day long and is within walkable distance to John Smith Field. My favorite nearby bar is the Capitol Beer and & Tap Room, just across the American River.
Just a few miles away is my favorite brewery in Sacramento, Track Seven. They have 8 or 10 taps that are constantly changing. They don’t serve food but do have food trucks that rotate; sometimes burgers, sometimes tacos.
There are plenty of restaurants nearby serving the college community. Hot City Pizza is the spot for pizza while Evan’s Kitchen is ideal for brunch. Cafe Rolle serves up French-style sandwiches and other cafe foods and Bandera is Capitol Beer’s neighbor, great for a date night.
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.
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.
There are plenty of seats available at John Smith Field. The crowd consisted of less than 50 people, most of which were family members of either team. Fans though were engaged throughout even during a hot day.
I have to wonder if the 3pm start time negatively affects attendance due to students still in class.
From Highway 50, exit at Howe Ave/Power Inn and from 80, exit at J Street. The surface streets off of the freeways are easy to navigate.
Parking is free in Lot 10 (6-8 minute walk) which is across the street from Hornet Stadium, for games Monday through Thursday. For games held on Friday through Sunday, parking is free on the top level of Parking Structure I (the one right beyond the left field wall).
There is one entrance located behind the 3rd base dugout where you can also purchase your tickets. Once inside, getting to your seat is a breeze as there are few fans and plenty of access. The restroom option is a strange one. It looks like a small trailer and is less than appealing. In fact, it was rather spacious and more than served the fans in attendance.
The nearest light rail station is the Power Inn station. The light rail serves most of Sacramento and can get you to downtown or Midtown easily. The nearest Amtrak station is downtown at the corner of 5th St and H St.
Return on Investment 3
ROI is good considering the free parking and the $8 general admission ticket. Concession prices are reasonable but I’d avoid buying food if possible.
With the Hornets being one of the better teams in the WAC, you’d certainly be in for some quality baseball.
There are two things of note that create an extra point for me. There is a wall of accomplishments underneath the bleacher seating, complete with pictures and stats of recent conference acknowledgements. Another cool thing is being able to sit right next to the play-by-play announcer as his table is set up near the home dugout.