With a water slide and ribs joint backdrop providing a fair midway atmosphere, there was a State Fair feel in the air at Friday night’s Sacramento Republic FC Bonney Field opener.
Though the current configuration of Bonney Field holds some 12,000 fewer fans than cavernous Hughes Stadium, the new facility was built for soccer, and fans seemed to voice their support for the Republic as loudly as they did at Hughes. And, of course, the Tower Bridge Battalion members were out in force to show things haven’t changed that much. Sacramento scored a late goal to nip the Colorado Rapids Reserves 4-3 in a somewhat sloppy, but highly entertaining debut for the new facility located at Cal Expo.
So what is new and different? Because of the compact size, there’s not a bad sightline at the facility, which one couldn’t say about Hughes Stadium. Workers were fine tuning Bonney Field right up until the crowd started to arrive on Saturday, and noticeable right off were the white and maroon premium seatbacks that spelled out SRFC on both sides of the stadium. The “midway” areas beyond the grandstand provided for plenty of drink, food and merchandise choices, easy restroom access, and of course being on State Fair grounds, there was plenty of parking. The sunset views weren’t bad either.
The match on Friday was a treat for spectators, with 29 shots on goal combined. Sacramento did most of its scoring in the first half, with midfielder Rodrigo Lopez leading the way with two goals as Sacramento charged to a 3-1 advantage. But the advantage vanished in the second half, until Mike Fucito’s 84th minute right corner open net goal put Sacramento ahead to stay. The win gives Sacramento a 7-4-2 United Soccer League record, 3-1-1 at home.
The next day, the USA Eagles men’s national rugby played before another 8,000-fan sellout at Bonney Field, as the Eagles knocked off Canada 38-35. If you weren’t able to get to Cal Expo for the Sac Republic FC opener, another shot at Bonney Field will come this week, when Arizona United SC comes in Thursday for the 7:30 p.m. match.
It didn’t take long, but Bonney Field already feels like an entrenched part of Sacramento’s landscape.