I wouldn’t normally care about the UFL, let alone write a post about it, but they announced that the California Redwoods, who played last season in San Francisco, will move to Sacramento for the upcoming season. The New York franchise is also moving to Hartford, CT. Both teams struggled with attendance last season, and the UFL as a whole lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million. This move is notable because it comes at a time when Sacramento’s viability as a pro sports town is in question. The Kings have long been the only major sports franchise in town, but their issues have been well documented. While the team sold out almost every game for its first 15+ seasons in Sacramento, the fan base got spoiled, and has recently lost interest with the poor results and lack of direction of the team. Fortunately, with the arrival and quick progression Tyreke Evans, along with other young pieces like Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, and the recent addition of Carl Landry, things are looking up for the Kings. A new arena remains the primary issue regarding the long term sustainability of the team in Sacramento.
The city recently lost the WNBA’s Monarchs, due to the Maloofs letting the team go. While Sacramento will never challenge San Jose as the boutique sport capital of California, inheriting the UFL franchise can be considered a step in the right direction. With the Raiders and 49ers playing just down I-80, NFL football has always been accessible to local fans. It’ll be interesting to see how the Redwoods fare at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium. I don’t see it being an overwhelming success, but hopefully they can draw more fans than San Francisco did, thus helping the case for the Kings’ new arena. In addition to the Kings mostly successful run in Sacramento, the Oakland A’s minor league affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, has been a huge success in the 10 seasons they’ve been here, leading the minor leagues in overall attendance in each of the first 9 seasons. I can’t say I’ll be purchasing season tickets to watch Doug Gabriel and the Redwoods take the field week in and week out, but it’s definitely something to check out. I’ll at least have to catch a game to watch Denny Green roaming the sidelines and see if the UFL really is who we thought they were.