Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Game On

These standout stadiums and sports venues offer thrilling settings for meetings and events

By Kamala Kirk

Hosting an event in a sporting venue creates an exciting and memorable experience. Aside from concerts and games, they’re also great settings for conferences, meetings, and private events. In addition to indoor spaces, many have vast outdoor areas that can be rented, and they offer other special perks like concession stands and guided tours. From modern arenas and stadiums to world-renowned horse racing tracks, these unique sports venues across California are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on attendees.

Bay Area

Open since 1923, California Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Berkeley, has stunning views of the Bay Area. Modeled after the Colosseum in Rome, the event areas at the venue can accommodate up to 900 people, and the stadium has several indoor and outdoor spaces. Highlights include the Chancellor’s Box, which features a balcony and glass deck for smaller gatherings; the University Club, which sits atop the press box and is ideal for fundraisers, corporate events, and celebrations; and the Stadium Club, which is designed for receptions and networking events with a mezzanine and four bars.

Los Angeles

Less than a minute apart in downtown Los Angeles, Arena and Microsoft Theater are world-class performance venues that can host a wide variety of events. Arena boasts multiple board and conference rooms for eight to 60 people, as well as the Lexus Club (200 people), Yaamava’ Club by San Manuel (350 people), and outdoor City View Terrace for 300. Microsoft Theater’s private event spaces accommodate between 25 and 550 guests and include a 14,000-square-foot stage, the 2,000-square-foot VIP Lounge, the 6,250-square-foot Microsoft Lounge at L.A. Live, and more.

The 77,500-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum underwent a $315 million renovation in 2019 that added a seven-story Scholarship Club Tower with premium amenities such as luxury suites, club suites, loge boxes, and the 1923 Club rooftop deck. From smaller gatherings on the field to major events of up to 75,000 people, the coliseum offers a wide selection of unique spaces including the interior Lou Galen Club and the spacious President’s Suite. Another unique offering that can be added to events is the lighting of the Olympic Torch. 

Bootsy Bellows suite at SoFi Stadium. May 24, 2023
Bootsy Bellows suite at SoFi Stadium CREDIT SoFi Stadium

“The LA Memorial Coliseum is more than just a stadium; in its 100th year, this historic landmark continues to embody the spirit of the city, offering an electric experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who gather here,” says Sacha Tani, senior sales manager of private events for the coliseum.

One of Pasadena’s most iconic venues, also known as “America’s Stadium,” the Rose Bowl Stadium is a National Historic Landmark that has hosted the Rose Bowl college football game since 1923, World Cup games, Super Bowls, concerts, and festivals, among others. Highlights include locker rooms that can host sit-down dinners, a 19-acre grass field, the Court of Champions under the world-famous stadium marquee, and an outdoor wine garden. “The Rose Bowl Stadium provides its clients with a multitude of indoor and outdoor event spaces spanning across 300 acres of breathtaking landscape,” says Monique Reaves, Rose Bowl Stadium’s chief revenue officer. “With views of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains, it is perfect for any style of event, and our team will be sure to deliver an unforgettable experience.”

Santa Anita Park in Arcadia is a historic 320-acre property long known for hosting some of the country’s most prominent horse-racing events on its thoroughbred racetrack. With classic art deco architecture, 1 million square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor space, and multiple venue, dining, and entertainment options, Santa Anita Park can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 10,000 people. 

Horse racers entering the home stretch at Santa Anita Park. May 24, 2023
Entering the home stretch at Santa Anita Park CREDIT Santa Anita Park

Home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium is at Hollywood Park, a sports and entertainment destination that encompasses nearly 300 acres. Centrally located with over 35 event spaces, the 3.1-million-square-foot stadium has more than 260 suites, 12 club spaces, and more than 13,000 premium seats. “The nontraditional part of [the venue] excites people,” says Jessica Vella, vice president of tours and events for Legends at SoFi Stadium. “Whether they’re sports fans or not, we’ve found that people love hosting events with stadiums as the backdrop.” 

Palm Springs

The 27,000-square-foot Acrisure Arena is the newest venue in the Greater Palm Springs area and the first large indoor venue in the county. Designed for hockey and optimized for concerts with a capacity of 11,000, the arena features four premium hospitality clubs and event spaces that include a 10,000-square-foot outdoor compound; 17,000-square-foot ice rink; and more. 

The iconic Empire Polo Club in Indio has more than 250 acres of rose gardens, polo fields, lush palm groves, and a tropical lake, creating a stunning backdrop for small groups of 15 to large-scale events of 90,000. It offers an indoor equestrian arena, bleacher seating for 2,000, and four unique venues: The Rose Garden, The Forum, Hacienda del Toro, and Medjhool Lake. 

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with the stunning Coachella Valley as its backdrop, has amenities including two 19,000-square-foot shade structures, 29 world-class tennis courts, stadium suites, 8 acres of outdoor exposition space, and 54 acres of outdoor parking.

Skyline view of San Diego at Petco Park. May 24, 2023
Skyline view of San Diego at Petco Park CREDIT Eric Scire

San Diego

Petco Park is home to MLB’s San Diego Padres and offers incredible views of San Diego Bay and the San Diego skyline. “We offer event spaces all throughout the ballpark, many of which include open-air concepts, allowing attendees to soak up our year-round beautiful weather,” says Jaclyn Lash, Padres’ senior vice president of special events. It features 10 restaurants and is designed to host events from 50 to 40,000 people with more than 20 on-site venues including the playing field, clubhouses, concourses, terraces, and rooftops.