A couple of years ago I decided that while I wanted to continue to explore the US and countries around the world, I needed to spend a bit more time exploring right at home. So the California Challenge was born. In 2018 I set out to visit all 21 of the California Missions. For 2018 I decided to attend a home game of all 18 California pro sports teams. Let’s take a virtual tour of the 18 California pro sports teams from the San Diego Padres to the Golden State Warriors.
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Here are a few fun facts from attending a home game of all 18 California pro sports teams…
•The home team won nine out of 18 times, lost eight times, and tied once.
•The Los Angeles Rams played in the oldest stadium – the LA Memorial Coliseum, built in 1923. However, they’ll be moving to their new permanent home in Summer 2020 so then the Dodgers will lay claim to the oldest stadium in California, built in 1962.
•The San Jose Sharks play in the SAP Center at San Jose, the smallest capacity in California with 17,496 seats. The Los Angeles Rams played in the largest stadium, with a capacity of 78,467 in the Coliseum. Their new permanent home, SoFi Stadium, will also be the largest pro sport stadium in California when it opens, with a capacity of 70,240.
•Attending a home game for all 18 teams meant visiting 15 stadiums. The Los Angeles Kings, LA Lakers and LA Clippers all play at the Staples Center. The LA Galaxy and LA Chargers both play at Dignity Health Sports Park.
California Pro Sports Teams Awards
•Biggest Fan Award goes to my dad. Eighteen different people attended games with me during the challenge, but my dad went to the most games at five.
•Favorite Stadium Experience Award goes to the LAFC at Banc of California Stadium.
•Frequently Seen Player Award goes to Erik Gudbranson. He played for the Vancouver Canucks when they played against the LA Kings and then was traded to the Anaheim Ducks.
•Favorite Player Award goes to Alex Caruso of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Major League Baseball (MLB)
San Diego Padres
A gorgeous baseball stadium in downtown San Diego. And since the team is in San Diego you’re almost guaranteed gorgeous baseball weather! (Transportation Notes: Public transportation is easy to use for this stadium)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
This game was an adventure! We don’t get a lot of rain in the spring, summer or autumn in Southern California so this was just the 12th rain-delayed game in Angel Stadium history. Fortunately I was able to attend the make-up game the next day to check the Angels off the list.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Not my favorite team or stadium, but I will admit it’s gotten a lot safer in the last few years. Dodger Stadium is the largest MLB stadium at a capacity of 56,000 so it should be included on any MLB Stadium Bucket List.
Constructed deep in the ground so fans enter at the upper decks, this stadium has a lot of concrete. Visiting RingCentral Coliseum feels like a throw back to stadiums of the past and I don’t recommend attending solo at night. (Transportation Notes: Public transportation is easy to use for this stadium)
San Francisco Giants
Located in the South Beach area of San Francisco you can be treated to a waterfront view from some seats. (Transportation Notes: Public transportation is easy to use for this stadium)
National Football League (NFL)
Los Angeles Rams
What an experience to see the Rams play at LA Memorial Coliseum. For the 2020 season they’ll move into their new permanent home at SoFi Stadium, but for now this was a memorable experience. The Rams and Chargers recently moved to LA and I am amazed at how quickly they’ve developed very different fan bases. In my experiences this year, the Rams seemed to attract more of an LA crowd.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers on the other hand seem to have attracted more of an Orange County crowd, which makes sense since Orange County is so close to San Diego. It’s not easy to judge this stadium because the Rams are only playing in a temporary home after their move from St. Louis. For the 2020 season they’ll move into their new permanent home at SoFi Stadium.
San Francisco 49ers
This was my very first NFL game so it will always be a bit special but the stadium itself felt fairly impersonal. Essentially, it is just a really large stadium designed to fit in as many people as possible. Definitely doesn’t have the character or personality of older, or smaller, stadiums. (Transportation Notes: This is in the suburbs so public transportation is a bit limited but there are some great places to park and ride to the stadium)
Major League Soccer (MLS)
Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC)
Wow! This is the hands-down the best soccer game I’ve attended in the US (I imagine going to a game in Europe would be even better!). The energy was absolutely electric and the new stadium is worth a visit. (Transportation Notes: Parking is not cheap at this stadium so if you’re able to use public transportation I’d highly recommend going that route.)
Los Angeles Galaxy
A fun soccer game with really passionate fans. The game was filled with chanting, scarf waving and excitement. I thought this was a really good experience until I went to an LAFC game, so I’d rank this second in terms of MLB experiences in California.
San Jose Earthquakes
This was probably my least favorite team/stadium of the challenge. The energy wasn’t very good and my favorite part of the game was getting to watch the planes take off and land from the San Jose Airport next door. (Transportation Notes: They have an easy park and ride option from downtown San Jose to help you save money on parking)
National Basketball Association (NBA)
I feel like I need a disclaimer for this whole section of my whole challenge…I don’t particularly care for the NBA. Basketball is enjoyable, but I prefer college basketball. So shelling out money to attend four NBA games was a bit painful!
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers and the Lakers both play in the Staples Center and it was amazing to see how different the atmosphere was for each of the games. (Transportation Notes: Depending on where you’re coming from in LA, public transportation can be easy to use.)
Los Angeles Lakers
Admittedly this is one of my least favorite professional sports teams so I took a friend who is a big Lakers fan to help make the game more exciting. And then Lizzo made the game really exciting. And I discovered one of the Lakers newer players, Alex Caruso, and he became my favorite player of the challenge. (Transportation Notes: Depending on where you’re coming from in LA, public transportation can be easy to use.)
The Kings play at one of the newer stadiums I visited and it was quite impressive. The court is underground so you enter the stadium at the 200 level and then go down if you have seats closer to the court…I did not! It is also located in downtown Sacramento so there is a lot to do around the stadium.
Golden State Warriors
Chase Center is the newest of all the stadiums I visited, having just opened in 2019. It is located in downtown San Francisco not too far from where the San Francisco Giants play. (Transportation Notes: Depending on where you’re coming from in San Francisco, public transportation can be easy to use.)
National Hockey League (NHL)
Next up is the NHL and I will admit that before this challenge I had never been to an ice hockey game, at any level. My biggest surprise of the challenge was how much I loved hockey! I hope to more regularly attend games moving forward.
A fun, family friendly atmosphere. If you live in Southern California, this is just a great family outing!
Los Angeles Kings
Another team who plays at the Staples Center, along with the Clippers and Lakers. I can’t imagine being the keeper of the calendar at the Staples Center…so many moving parts! Just like with the Clippers and Lakers, this was a completely different atmosphere at the stadium which makes me glad I committed to going to a home game of each team instead of just visiting each stadium. (Transportation Notes: Depending on where you’re coming from in LA, public transportation can be easy to use.)
San Jose Sharks
Another really fun, family friendly atmosphere. If you live in Northern California, this is just a great family outing.