As of yet PRO Rugby has announced only two official cities – Sacramento and San Francisco to host teams for the inaugural 2016 PRO Rugby competition with speculation that Philadelphia and Denver to be joining them shortly. It has been confirmed that Sacramento will be playing out of the Bonney Field Stadium and San Fran the Boxer Stadium.
BOXER STADIUM (aka Matthew J. Boxer Stadium) (formerly Balboa Stadium)
Capacity – 3,500.
Current owner – City and County of San Francisco.
Current operator – San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.
Surface – Natural grass.
Location – Balboa Park (neighborhood and public park in San Francisco, California)
Cost – $150,000.
Boxer Stadium may be small but with it comes plenty of history (first opened in 1953). Venues like this may be ideal for PRO Rugby if San Fran fans can get the Boxer stadium packed to capacity every it would create an ideal atmosphere for the league. Established professional clubs such as Connacht Rugby in Ireland play out of relatively small stadiums, with Connacht’s stadium Galway Sportsground only having a capacity of 9,500. But with this Connacht manages to fill the stadium seeing no empty seats which are an eyesore whilst watching any sport. If Boxer Stadium proves to small to host the San Fran Rugby franchise PRO Rugby i’m sure would oblige in finding a new bigger venue as the more seats sold the better it is overall for the league. At the moment Boxer Stadium is famous for its soccer hosting home matches for the San Francisco Soccer Football League and boasts the title as the only public soccer-specific stadium in San Francisco. Hopefully this will change and Boxer Stadium will become well known as a professional Rugby venue!
BONNEY FIELD (formerly known as the Cal Expo Multi-Use Sports Field Facility)
Capacity – 11,442.
Current owner – Sacramento Republic FC, Cal Expo, and Ovations Food Service.
Current operator – Sacramento Republic FC.
Surface – Grass.
Location – 1600 Exposition Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95815.
Cost – $3 million.
Bonney Field is a popular modern stadium within the city of Sacramento. Which makes the stadium appealing to me is its previous use for USA Eagles international games. Due to the holding of such games there many of the general Sacramento public who may have not seen or heard of rugby before these games have experienced it. This for me is a huge bonus for the PRO Rugby franchise as many of their target market in Sacramento and indeed Northern California may have been to these international games. I think Key to the survival to PRO Rugby is the creation of rivalries and what about a Californian rivalry between Sacramento and the Big city San Francisco 🙂 ‘P.S. One wonders … With Sacramento FC’s color as maroon and parts of the stadium maroon will Sacramento Rugby’s color be chosen as maroon as well? hmmm!!!’
Although not confirmed Philadelphia is thought to be the third PRO Rugby franchise to be announced and rumor has it they will play out of the Talen Energy Stadium (capacity 18,500). Talen Energy stadium is a pivot of American domestic rugby hosting the collegiate rugby 7s championship (broadcast on NBC) every year since 2011. Also it hosted the sold out Eagles match versus the Maori All Blacks in 2013. Finally I think key for the success of a strong fan bases in the inaugural PRO Rugby League is the ability of amateur rugby clubs in the catchment areas of every club to turn out for their side and show their support for their team in the inaugural season which I have my suspicions will not be the most exciting of seasons!
RUGBY UNION FOOTAGE FROM BONNEY FIELD: (Soon home of Sacramento PRO Rugby Franchise)
USA V JAPAN 2015.
SPORTS FOOTAGE FROM BOXER STADIUM: (Soon home of San Francisco’s PRO Rugby Franchise)