First-half action against UC San Diego on Dec. 18. With seating for just over 1,000 fans, it’s smaller than most high school gyms in the Capital Region. Despite its limitations, the cozy Hornet Gym — also known as The Nest — has been the main facility for NCAA indoor sports at Sacramento State since 1955. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

Too Big for The Nest

After 69 years, Sacramento State has outgrown the hallowed sports facility

Back Web Only Jan 16, 2024 By Steve Martarano

With a seating capacity for just over a thousand fans, it’s smaller than most Capital Region high school gyms. Despite its limitations, the cozy Hornet Gym — also known as The Nest — has been the main facility for NCAA indoor sports at Sacramento State since 1955.

A mural inside The Nest’s lobby on Dec. 18 depicts some of the women’s sports that have played there.

But that’s about to change beginning this fall, school officials say. The Nest’s cramped quarters in Yosemite Hall has hosted everything from lectures and NCAA sports to rock concerts such as Jimi Hendrix (1968) and Sheryl Crow (1995, the night after she won three Grammys). Last November, just as the current basketball season was beginning, new Sacramento State President Luke Woods announced plans to move those events to the campus’ The WELL fitness and health facility. 

Sacramento State students (L-R) Alex Mackie, SD Matthews and Keith Bailey, who have played intramural sports at The Nest, attend the game against UC San Diego on Dec. 18.

The announcement came after board members for Union WELL Inc. and the university’s student governing body approved a resolution to provide up to $5.2 million for the project to cover initial estimated expenses.

Fans enter the Hornet Gym in Yosemite Hall, aka The Nest, on Dec. 21 during a Christmas-break men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader. With seating capacity at just over 1,000, the cozy facility has hosted most indoor sports at Sacramento State since 1955.

“The (Union WELL) board’s decision demonstrates that we are on the rise,” Wood said in a November news release. “Sacramento State is the only public university in the capital of the state with the fifth-largest economy in the world, and we are acting like it.”

Members of the Sac State cheer team perform during the second half of the game with UC San Diego at The Nest on Dec. 18.

Seating capacity at the new events center is yet to be determined. The four courts at The WELL that currently host recreational and intramural sports will remain, but seating will be added that can be rolled out and retracted to accommodate larger crowds (presumably significantly more than 1,000) for NCAA competition. A public address system, new lighting, scoreboards and video boards will be added.

Sacramento State forward Duncan Powell puts up a shot at The Nest during the first half in the non-conference game on Dec. 18 against UC San Diego. Sacramento State would go on to lose 83-52.

Meanwhile, The Nest continues its 2023-24 full schedule, with the men’s and women’s basketball teams playing their final games in the historic building. Next season’s facility status for volleyball and gymnastics, meanwhile, is yet to be determined. In 2008, The Nest’s gym floor was named Colberg Court in honor of 32-year volleyball coach Debby Colberg who retired after the 2007 season.

Sacramento State players are introduced before the Dec. 18 non-conference matchup at The Nest with UC San Diego.

Chuck Myers of Gold River, a fan of high school and college basketball who attends games around the region, said he likes “the atmosphere and quaintness of The Nest,” but it’s time for the Sacramento State program to upgrade.

Beginning in the fall of 2024, Sacramento State sports such as men’s and women’s basketball will move into the campus’ The Well fitness and health facility.

“Just like the (Sac State) football program has moved up, I think facility wise, it will help for the basketball team to move up as well,” says Myers, while attending the Dec. 18 game against UC San Diego. “I’ve been in the Well, so it’s hard for me to imagine how that’s going to work, but the new president (Wood) and athletic director Mark Orr seem to be real visionaries. Whatever the Well becomes will probably be way better than The Nest.”

On Feb. 1, 2014 Dylan Garrity made a 75-footer at the buzzer to deliver a 78-75 overtime win against Big Sky Conference-leading Weber State. It was the No. 1 play on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s top plays that night (Photo Bob Solorio/Sacramento State Athletics).

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