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Growing excitement, attendance at Hornet Stadium reflects Sac State’s football success

The Sacramento State dance and cheer teams and Marching Band perform before the Homecoming game on Oct. 29, 2022. The groups are part of the festive atmosphere that will descend upon Hornet Stadium on Oct. 28 for this year's football home opener. (Sacramento State/Belen Torres)

Football fans – students, alumni, community members of all stripes – will step into a high-energy zone when they come to Hornet Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, to watch the three-time Big Sky Conference champion Hornets play their first home game of the 2023 season.

The experience will revolve around the game between Sac State and Texas A&M Commerce in a venue that has become known for putting on display the full excitement and pageantry of college football.

Contributing to the green-and-gold game-day scene throughout the season will be pre-game tailgate parties, the spirit squad’s award-winning dance and cheer teams, a marching band that performs at halftime and throughout the game from the student seating area in the stands, an array of food trucks and concessions, ample people-watching, and post-game fireworks.

“It’s the golden era of Hornet football,” said Director of Athletics Mark Orr. “We’re very fun to watch, and the fan experience is terrific.”

Running back Marcus Fulcher is hoping for a full house on Saturday evening.

“I’m hyped up,” Fulcher said. “It’s always great to play at home, with friends and family in the stands. When the crowd gets real rowdy, they’re a big help.”

The Hornets defeated Nicholls State 38-24 in their opening game in Thibodaux, Louisiana, on Sept 2. They are the No. 9-ranked FCS team in the nation and have won three straight Big Sky championships.

Under first-year head coach Andy Thompson, who replaced Troy Taylor after Taylor moved on to Stanford, the Hornets are considered a top contender for another Big Sky title and a berth in the postseason.

“We’re ready,” Fulcher said. “We’ve been preparing for quite a while, so we’re feeling good.”

Three individuals sitting in the University Union Ballroom, cheering during a football watch party.
Hundreds of Hornet football fans filled the University Union Ballroom on Aug. 31 to watch the team's opening game against Nicholls State University on TV. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Beyond the game itself, there’s the non-football action, and at the forefront is the Marching Band, which has been rehearsing daily for its season debut under James Long, director of Athletic Bands.

“We have a really enthusiastic group of students who make great music, and have great spirit,” said Long, who is in his first year at Sac State. “We’ll be firing up the crowd and keeping the audience engaged. We’re ready to go.”

The band is made up of nearly 150 students, including area community college students who are volunteers, Long said. In recent weeks, they have been spending hours each day perfecting their music and marching form.

“We’re looking forward to playing the ‘Fight Hornet Fight’ song,” which the band plays after each Sac State score, Long said. “I think we’re going to be playing it a lot.”

In a nod to Kids Day at the stadium, the band’s halftime show will include its versions of popular tunes including “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo and “Industry Baby” by Lil Nas X.

Kids Day also will feature merchandise giveaways and a bounce house in the tailgate area. Sac State mascot Herky the Hornet will be on hand for photos.

The student musicians are “naturally excited and nervous” about their turn in the spotlight, but they are channeling the feelings into positive vibes, Long said.

“I’m telling them to take that nervous energy and use it to blow your horn a little harder. Give it an extra 5%.”

Long said he hopes the crowd will connect to the music.

“We’ll be dancing and yelling, and we hope people in the audience will interact,” he said.

Drum major Nathan Sharma, a Sac State Business student, will be at the forefront of the fun.

“We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for this, and now it’s time to put it into action,” Sharma said. “We’re all just holding our breath until the moment before we get on the field.

“I like driving school spirit. We want to make sure that we’re representing the University and ourselves in the best way we can.”

Throughout the game, fans can visit the concession area for food and beverages, and also can purchase Hornet-themed merchandise. Alcohol sales will be suspended at the start of the fourth quarter, Orr said.

A large crowd fills the stands at Hornet Stadium during a night football game.
Fans packed Hornet Stadium for Homecoming and other home football games during the 2022 season, which saw the Hornets win their third straight Big Sky championship. (Sacramento State/Hrach Avetisyan)

Hornet Stadium seats 21,195 people, and attendance during Sac State’s championship run has increased. During the 2022 season, the Hornets set school scoring records while averaging more than 15,000 fans at home. A record 23,173 people turned out for the 2022 Causeway Classic against UC Davis.

“More than half of our players are from high schools in the Sacramento area,” Orr said. ‘It’s really cool to see young men raised in our community now playing here at the collegiate level. It’s just one more reason to come and watch.”

Those unable to attend can watch most games on KMAX Channel 31. The Sept. 16 game at Stanford will be broadcast on the PAC12 network, and an Oct. 21 contest against Montana State will air on ESPN2. All games will also stream live on ESPN+.

“We’ve got our largest TV package in school history,” Orr said. “People are following Sac State football, and our TV partners see our success and want to broadcast our games.”

Orr said he is proud of the football team’s progress, and the joy their success brings to the community.

“The bottom line is I know they’ll give their all on Saturday and we’ll have a blast,” Orr said. “We’ll have a lot of fun.”

If you go

  • Tickets are available at
  • Campus map and parking.
  • Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Tailgaters generally start gathering several hours before the game starts.
  • Fans can bring clear plastic bags or small clutch purses into the stadium, but backpacks, fanny packs, and larger purses are prohibited.
  • Food and beverages are available for purchase inside Hornet Stadium. Alcohol sales are limited to two drinks per person.

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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