On Saturday night I had the pleasure of watching the first official preseason game for the Colorado Rapids (they played two 'practice' games in San Diego) as they took on Sacramento Republic FC at Bonney Field in Sacramento. This is my second match at Bonney, as I made it out for their stadium opener against Colorado Rapids Reserves in June 2014. I spent a bit of time walking around the park before and after the match and had a few thoughts to share:
There was not a tailgate (that I could see) and I am not sure if this is a function of the field being part of Cal Expo (where the California State Fair is held) or local regulations in Sacramento, or that it was just a preseason match. So nothing really to report here.
It is always shocking to me when it is easy to get into a sports facility when I compare the typical experience getting into Dick's Sporting Goods Park. As you know, getting into DSGP can be a challenge at times, but getting into Bonney was very smooth with little problems. They did a cursory bag search (I had my laptop with me) and my partner and I breezed through their security. What was slick about the process is that they had separate stands for each. You went through the bag check, then security used their metal detector sweep thing on you and then you showed your ticket. It was fast and there was enough separation that there was never a long wait in the queue and the security staff was efficient, professional and kind.
We were there a bit before kick off and wanted to wander around and see the place. Much has changed since I was last there in 2014 as a good deal of additional seating was added to accommodate the support that the Republic has. There were also significant concessions that offered a good variety of beer (always important at a football match).
The Tower Bridge Battalion
The official Republic supporters group has their own section within the stadium where they can gather, sing, drink beers and get together as a footy family. We walked over, exchanged pleasantries and they were very excited to hear that we came from Denver for this match. Great people and very welcoming. The TBB also has a section behind the north goal and were in fine form all night. Very loud and quite clear in their chants and drum work and did their best to get the crowd energized.
We were in the East Stands near the top and had an excellent vantage point for the action. They were bleacher style seats and were adequately comfortable. Our section was mostly full, and I found the fans knowledgeable about the game and their team.
It was a preseason match. And let's be honest, it's not a good idea to take too much from this one, but the Rapids did pick up a 1-0 win over Sacramento. I have some thoughts about the game here if you want to check that out.
My one complaint with the evening was we walked down from the stands to the edge to watch the Rapids run their cool down and we were asked to leave by security. It was curious as we were just standing there, but we did comply and began to walk out. We did run into Marc Burch on our way out and got a picture with Burch and he had some nice words for us in thanks for coming out.
Departure from Bonney Field was efficient and quick and in less than five minutes from walking out of the facility we were on the road and on our way back home (back to my sisters).
Sacramento Republic FC is a quality organization that has built a nice culture and fan base and for a preseason friendly they had over 10,000 people in attendance. The organization is professional and appears to be ready to make the jump to MLS. It was an excellent evening and very much worth the visit to Bonney Field and the chance to see the Rapids play.