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Score Big Points With Events at Pro Sports Facilities

By Janet Fullwood & Dani Heinemeyer

AT&T PARK // San Francisco

Views that won’t quit and a classic design that invokes instant nostalgia are the hallmarks of this 41,500-seat stadium on McCovey Cove in San Francisco’s up-and-coming SoMa district. Since it opened to rave reviews in 2000, the park has hosted events as diverse as ski-jumping competitions, company baseball games, large-scale concert productions, trade shows, festivals and formal dinners both on and off the field.

“The bottom line is that we hope to accommodate on nongame days groups large and small, and provide some content and fun in a new and unique setting, with or without Giants-themed options,” says Joey Nevins, sales manager for the facility.

The recent SnowBomb Ski & Board Festival took advantage of numerous options: It featured 100 exhibitor booths on the covered promenade level, sports action movies screened on the Jumbotron, tastings from 80 participating wineries and breweries, a 300-foot zip line, a 15,000-square-foot sales tent and two bands playing on a stage set up on home plate.

“Instead of walking through a convention center, attendees are walking around a big loop and then going out on the field,” SnowBomb founder Jim McAlpine says of the event, which was expected to draw up to 30,000 snow sports enthusiasts over two days in November.

Last year, the Giants organization added Pier 48, a 120,000-square-foot waterfront space with indoor and outdoor options, to its inventory of special event venues. The pier is slated for eventual development as part of the Giants’ Mission Rock neighborhood development plan.


While the Sacramento Kings will move to a new downtown arena in 2016, the team’s new ownership group isn’t letting Sleep Train Arena-their current home-go to seed. Much-needed upgrades and renovations were completed in advance of the current season, resulting in a refreshed look for the interior and greatly expanded Wi-Fi and cellular coverage. Kirk Rhinehart, the Kings’ director of arena programming and marketing, notes that the arena is also supporting Sacramento’s farm-to-fork initiative with upgraded concessions featuring food from local restaurants and farms, along with locally crafted brews.

Sleep Train Arena, which can accommodate up to 17,000 for basketball and other spectator events, also welcomes meeting groups of 10 to 200 in various rooms and spaces, including club areas and private luxury suites.

“We’ve done small business meetings, weddings, birthday parties, baby showers and many other events in the available rooms and used the arena space for private trade shows such as Tony’s Fine Foods,” Rhinehart says. “We have a full in-house event team to assist in planning, as well as an in-house marketing agency. We also provide a full range of catering options for all sizes of events and meetings.”

SAP CENTER // San Jose

The home of the San Jose Sharks NHL team has gone through several official name changes (it was known as HP Pavilion and, before that, Compaq Center), but to locals, it will always be the Shark Tank. The 17,500-seat venue hosts many concerts, benefits and other events that utilize the entire facility, but smaller spaces can be made available on occasion.

“We have limited opportunity to rent space in the venue for events that do not use the entire venue,” explains Steve Kirsner, the facility’s director of booking and events. “With that said, we do rent space to many groups who wish to host a small event and can plan in the short term.”

When it comes to the entire venue, the sky’s the limit, Kirsner says: “When a client chooses to use the venue, they are only limited by their

imagination and budget. For example, one event had a casino on our club level, and ice skating and dancing to a live band on the arena floor, complete with mirror ball and skate-up bars. We are very open to hosting unique events.”

RALEY FIELD // West Sacramento

The 12,000-seat home of the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, hosts nongame events as diverse as corporate

meetings, graduations, proms, concerts, company parties, an annual brew fest and a burger cook-off that qualifies as one of the city’s top charitable events.

“Our Solon Club and party suite on the third floor overlook the field and the city skyline, and we have a lot of corporate meetings there, as well as private parties,” says Brittney Broberg, coordinator of events and entertainment.

On a larger scale, the field last year hosted a family-friendly Fourth of July featuring food trucks and fireworks, and an employee appreciation event for a large health care provider that used the field, the concourse, the barbecue areas and the upstairs lounges. “Anything that anyone envisions, we can probably make work, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the River Cats’ schedule,” Broberg says.

Besides ample parking on site, the stadium is easily reached on foot from downtown Sacramento and from the Amtrak station, which is served by more than two dozen Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains a day connecting Sacramento with the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley.

PETCO PARK // San Diego

Located in the heart of bustling downtown San Diego across from the San Diego Convention Center, Petco Park, with a stadium capacity of 42,000, is a home-run venue for corporate events. “Many groups like the idea of having their event here at the ballpark to offer their guests an experience at a local landmark,” says Kristie Ewing, sales manager, of the San Diego Padres’ home. “It provides them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, eliminates the need for transportation and offers guests an event close to the neighboring Gaslamp District for continued entertainment.” Versatile group offerings include events like intimate dinners and receptions in the clubhouses, the historic Western Metal Supply Co. Building and playing field, pregame receptions in the Park at the Park, and concerts, festivals, fantasy baseball and movie screenings on the ball field. The Omni San Diego Hotel adds to the convenience with its exclusive Sky Bridge, making it the only hotel in the country attached to a Major League Baseball stadium.


Home to four professional sports teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, and host to some of the country’s hottest concerts, the Staples Center has earned its reputation as one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment venues. The center boasts six conference rooms, the world-class San Manuel and Lexus Clubs, Hyde Lounge and exclusive VIP event suites where groups can watch a Lakers game or take in a concert by artists that run the gamut from Jay-Z to Cher. Ashley Sinclair, special events coordinator, says, “Groups like law firms will present to a client or host internal meetings before going into an event suite to watch the game or concert.” Caterer Levy Restaurants provides customizable food and beverage packages ranging from a simple cash bar to a full sushi buffet. For those who want to continue the partying after their home team wins (or loses), the L.A. Live entertainment complex is right next door.

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