New football league unites with Sac State

Stadium:Hornet Stadium is being renovated. The synthetic field will pave the way for more football at the stadium.: Yana Yaroshvich State Hornet

Stadium:Hornet Stadium is being renovated. The synthetic field will pave the way for more football at the stadium.: Yana Yaroshvich State Hornet

Marshall Hampson

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Sacramento State will welcome the California Redwoods, San Francisco’s United Football League franchise, to play its home games at Hornet Stadium for the 2010 UFL season.

The UFL and Sac State partnered up to bring in a football team to a city that has not had a professional team since 1995 when the Sacramento Gold Miners of the Canadian Football League last played games at Hornet Stadium.

When the UFL kicks off in September, the Sacramento franchise will play five home games at Hornet Stadium during the 2010 UFL season.??The UFL is a new American football league that allows players looking to get into the NFL a chance to perform at a professional level. The UFL started with four teams based out of Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas and Hartford, Conn.

Deputy Assistant Athletic Director Bill Macriss said the new field will create more opportunities for the university and the city of Sacramento.

“The UFL will have a positive impact in funding 60-plus players and coaches coming to Sacramento,” Macriss said. “There will be internships through the UFL, which means more jobs. It will benefit club sports, rec sports and classes that have to cancel due to weather. We’ve been focused so much on making this a positive impact.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said at a March 3 UFL news conference that the addition of the team could pump $10 million into the Sacramento economy by creating more jobs.

“Any team that would bring jobs to the city of Sacramento, I’m going to support,” Johnson said at the news conference. “In this case, you’re talking about 80 people that will be associated with the team. You’re talking about another 60 people who will have part-time jobs in our community. (And) an investment of $500,000 to Sac State.”

In a UFL press release, UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue reacted to bringing the Redwoods, a team that went 2-4 in the league’s debut season, to Sacramento and the university.

“Sacramento is a natural home for the UFL in that it is a major market that we believe will support a professional football team and we are excited to be here,” Huyghue said. “We are bringing sports fans in the area an exciting and high-quality product on the field at an affordable price and hope they will embrace the team who will become a part of the local community.”

In a recent UFL press release, Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez shared his thoughts on the franchise’s relocation.

“We are pleased to welcome the United Football League to our campus, and we are already seeing the benefits of our partnership. Thanks to the UFL, we are installing a new playing surface at Hornet Stadium without using state General Fund money,” Gonzalez said. “The field will allow Sacramento State to use the stadium for additional academic and student activities, as well as give us the opportunity to use it for other regional sporting events.”?

Sac State will not be using any part of its budget or the $3.1 million in stimulus funds to pay for the new field.

The football field at Hornet Stadium is under renovation as a synthetic turf is being installed for both the UFL and Sac State football teams to play on in the fall. The project is estimated at $1 million, with roughly $500,000 being paid for by the UFL.

The remaining $500,000 will be made by the university playing guarantee games. The Hornets will play more prestigious football teams such as University of Colorado, Stanford and Arizona State University in the next three years. After playing each of those away games, the universities will write Sac State a check for making the trip.

Athletic Director Terry Wanless said the Sacramento franchise will only be playing home games at Hornet Stadium and said the UFL is working to find headquarters and practice facility locations so the team does not interfere with the university’s football operations.

“Our No. 1 priority is the student-athletes,” Wanless said. “The challenge will be making sure the UFL operations doesn’t infringe on that. I’m positive that it won’t.”

According to the UFL press release, head coach Dennis Green hopes to bring a winning environment to the city.

“I am excited that the team will be able to call the city of Sacramento home,” Green said. “When I coached in Northern California I won a Super Bowl ring during my time with the San Francisco 49ers and I hope to bring championship success to the people of Sacramento and the fans of the team.”?

The Sacramento team currently does not have a new name. Six names are being considered, all with the Sacramento prefix: Condors, Miners, Pioneers, Redwoods, Senators and Sting.

Voting for the new name is open until 8:59 p.m. tonight at www.ufl-football.com.Sac State football head coach Marshall Sperbeck said he has not met with the Sacramento franchise and still remains optimistic about the two teams sharing the field.

“I hope it creates a bigger excitement for football and football fans in the area,” Sperbeck said. “I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road that we’ll just have to work out.”

Sperbeck said the move for the UFL to move to Sacramento will create an opportunity to have his team see players and the game of football being played at the professional level.

The UFL and the Sacramento franchise owner have not reached an agreement on how long the franchise will be in Sacramento, but Macriss said the franchise will be here for more than one season.

In the UFL press release, Johnson said he eagerly awaits the new season.

“Welcoming a professional sports team to the city also means welcoming a positive focus for the local community,” he said. “Whether it comes in the form of economic impact, the creation of jobs or simply the buzz from your city’s team winning football games, the opportunity to have a Sacramento franchise in the United Football League is an exciting proposition. I personally look forward to seeing the team in action at Hornet Stadium.”

Marshall Hampson can be reached at mhampson@statehornet.com