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Soccer Meets State Fair in Highly Entertaining Bonney Field Opener

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.

White and maroon seatbacks adorn both sides of Bonney Field
White and maroon seatbacks adorn both sides of Bonney Field

water slide 2014-06-20

First-half action
First-half action

kick 2014-06-20

Sacramento Republic FC's mascot poses with a fan
Mascot for the USA Rugby team, Rookie Eagle, poses with a fan
Sacramento celebrates with the Tower Bridge Battalion after Rodrigo Lopez's first-half goal that tied the score 1-1
Sacramento celebrates with the Tower Bridge Battalion after Rodrigo Lopez’s first-half goal that tied the score 1-1
An injured Colorado Rapids Reserves player leaves before halftime with a cut above his right eye
An injured Colorado Rapids Reserves player leaves before halftime with a cut above his right eye
Second-half action
Second-half action
Bonney Field at sunset
Bonney Field at sunset

backdrop 2014-06-20

Sacramento's Mike Fucito watches his game-winning goal sneak into the Colorado net
Sacramento’s Mike Fucito watches his game-winning goal sneak into the Colorado net
Sacramento's Nemanja Vukovic with his wife Kristina and daughter Kataleja after the match
Sacramento’s Nemanja Vukovic with his wife Kristina and daughter Kataleja after the match
Chad Bartlome signs an autograph after the game
Chad Bartlome signs an autograph after the game

 

 

About the author

Steve Martarano

A resident of Sacramento since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, Steve spent the 1980s at The Sacramento Union, working as a sports writer, music reviewer and crime reporter, among other assignments. He's spent the last 25+ years working in government public affairs for both state and federal agencies and currently is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bay-Delta office in Sacramento. He has shot just about every local sports team for the Sacramento Press, including local colleges, the Sacramento River Cats and Sacramento Republic FC. He resides in Curtis Park with his wife Sharon.

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