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California is home to many different Professional and College Sports teams and large sports venues.
The main way people buy tickets nowadays is online, and then print out a bar-code that you take straight to the turnstiles. The best place to go is the team's official website. Also popular are two companies that specialize in reselling tickets from season ticket holders that don't want to go to that specific game, TicketExchange by Ticketmaster and StubHub. Most teams partner with one of the two companies. So when you go to the official team website, check to see which company they partner with, since that specific re-seller will have representatives at the venue to resolve any problems.
The most popular Professional Sport in America is Football (National Football League/NFL). California is home to 4 NFL Teams. The approximate schedule, Preseason is held in August, Regular season is September through December, and Playoffs in January.
The Rams have recently relocated back to Los Angeles (after a 20 year sojourn in St Louis) and will temporarily play their home games at the LA Coliseum until the new stadium in Inglewood is completed in 2019.
The San Francisco 49'ers games are held at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Levi's Stadium is closer to San Jose, but there are public transportation options from San Francisco to Santa Clara.
The Oakland Raiders play at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, which is also part of the San Francisco Bay Area (East Bay). The stadium has a BART system station.
The San Diego Chargers play at Qualcomm Stadium in the Mission Valley area of the city of San Diego. The San Diego Trolley light rail system has a station in the parking lot.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has 5 teams in California. The Regular Season starts around the first of April and goes through the end of September, with the playoffs being held in October and early November.
The San Francisco Bay Area has two teams. The San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park, located in the main part of the city of San Francisco, right on the edge of the bay, The Oakland A's play at the O.co Coliseum, which they share with the Oakland Raiders..
The Greater Los Angeles Area has two teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers which play at Dodger Stadium near Downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, which is located in Orange County near Disneyland.
In San Diego, the San Diego Padres play at PETCO Park, located in Downtown San Diego.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has 4 teams in California. Pre-season starts in early October. The Regular season starts the last week of October and goes through the middle of April. The Playoffs start in mid-April and ends in early June
The Sacramento Kings play at the Sleep Train Arena.
The Golden State Warriors play at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. (Next door to the O.co Coliseum)
Los Angeles has two teams that share the same facility, Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Major League Soccer (MLS) has 2 teams in California. Regular season starts in March and ends in October, with playoffs from October through early December. Also look at special tournaments, such as the CONCACAF Champions League, which are seperate from the MLS games, so check the teams schedule, which will list all the games they play.
The San Jose Earthquakes play most matches at Buck Avaya Stadium in San Jose, next to the San Jose Airport, though some are held at Levi's Stadium in nearby Santa Clara.
The Los Angeles Galaxy plays at the Home Depot Center in Carson (Southern Los Angeles County).
National Hockey League (NHL) has 3 teams in California. The season normally has the preseason in September, the regular season from early October through mid-April, followed by the Playoffs that end in early June. The San Jose Sharks play at "SAP Center at San Jose" Arena.
The Los Angeles Kings plays at Staples Center, which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA.
The Anaheim Ducks play at the Honda Center, which is very close to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
College Sports in California
California has some of the most successful men’s and women’s college athletic programs in the nation. The major conference in the West is the Pacific 12 Conference and its California members include the University of Southern California (USC), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California, Berkeley (Cal) and Stanford University. They compete in a wide variety of sports including football and basketball as the major programs, but they also compete in Olympic sports like water polo, volleyball, tennis, track & field, swimming & diving, gymnastics and other sports like soccer, baseball and softball. Most universities will have websites with information on their sports programs, including schedules and ticket information.
Other major college conferences are the Mountain West Conference that includes CA schools San Diego State University, San Jose State University and Fresno State University and the Big West Conference that includes CA schools Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Cal State Fullerton; Cal State Long Beach; Cal State Northridge; University of the Pacific; University of California, Davis; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Riverside and University of California, Irvine.
College football starts in late August and the regular season usually ends no later than the first week of December. Then “bowl season” starts where teams that have had good seasons get invited to play an additional game usually in late December or early January. Current bowl games in California are the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, Poinsettia Bowl and Holiday Bowl, both in San Diego and the “Granddaddy of them all”, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. A full week of activity usually surrounds the bowl games with luncheons, marching band competitions, parades and more. The Rose Parade in Pasadena draws a million visitors annually.
College basketball is also a very popular sport in the U.S. with men’s and women’s team competeing. Non-Conference games are played in November and December with conference games held in January through early March. "March Madness" is a playoff that is held to find a national champion in March and early April. 68 teams enter the tournament that is played at regional sites to winnow the field down to a Final Four and the semi-finals and finals are played in an indoor football stadium.
Besides the major universities in California, almost every 4 year university and college and two year community college will have an athletic program. Check websites for the town you will be for colleges and universities and what athletic competitions may be happening.
Minor League Sports
California has many Minor League Baseball teams and venues, usually found in smaller cities, or suburbs of large cities. Season is basically the same as the MLB season (March through September).
Arena Football, an indoor sport played on Astroturf, season is from late March to the Championship in August. The San Jose SaberCats play at the "SAP Center at San Jose" and the LA KISS play at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) is Indoor soccer, a game that is a combination of Soccer and Hockey (Played on a Hockey rink with an Astroturf surface). California has four teams, Sacramento Surge, Turlock Express, Ontario Fury and the San Diego Sockers. Season is from November through early March.
Short Term Sporting Events
Auto racing has two major NASCAR Events and three Indy races held in California.
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana hosts a Sprint Cup race in late March. (Los Angeles Area), and an Indy race in June.
Sonoma Raceway (Northern California) hosts a Sprint Cup race in June. This is only one of 2 Sprint cup races driven on a road course. It will also host the Final Indycar race in late August.
Long Beach (Los Angeles County) has the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April. The Indy Car race is held on the city streets in the Downtown and main tourist areas.
Plenty of Horse racing in California, there are some very well known tracks, and they host some major races each year. The schedule is designed to offer year round racing, as the horses move from track to track.
Professional Golf (PGA) has multiple events in the state, usually early in the year, since the weather is nice year round, as compared to the rest of the nation. Courses are located throughtout the state.
Professional Tennis has a major event at Indian Wells (Palm Springs area) in March, and a series of events in July (Southern California and Stanford University in the Bay Area).