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Capitals tennis comes back to Sunrise Mall with upgrades

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The Sacramento Capitals tennis team will be returning to its more centralized Sunrise Mall venue from the Roseville Galleria this year, and it’s bringing more amenities and seating to its 2,500-capacity temporary stadium.

The team has been around for 26 years, winning six championships while playing at different Sacramento-area venues.

Capitals General Manager Matt McEvoy said the team will be playing at Sunrise Mall, at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights, for the next five years.

“We’re bringing the team closer to home,” he said, adding that the Capitals played at the Roseville Galleria from 2006-2010.

The move to the Galleria was to secure a five-year contract, and the team was able to get a similar contract upon moving back to Sunrise Mall this year.

“We are very excited to have the Caps come home!” Sunrise Mall General Manager Christi Woodards said in an email Monday. “The Caps give us a very well-known and recognized sporting event opportunity that will draw thousands of people to the mall.”

She added that it’s a great family event that has the potential to bring more business to the area.

The 2,500-square-foot stadium, located in the parking lot of the mall, is a venue the team essentially rents each season. T and B Equipment Company is building it in 10 days, which is typical for the stadium. McEvoy said this year’s stadium is the closest to having permanent-facility style amenities in Capitals history.

“We looked at what major sporting arenas all have – box seats, elevated VIP areas and more capacity – and we brought a lot of that here, even though it’s a temporary stadium,” he said. “And we managed to reduce ticket prices, since we know it’s tough with the economy these days.”

Basic tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Box seats start at $60. Last year’s general admission tickets started at $25, and box seats started at $75.

The amount of box seats, which are padded chairs with seats and backs on tiers alongside the court, was doubled to 890.

While the matches did not sell out last year, McEvoy said attendance at the Galleria was not as good as it previously was at Sunrise Mall, and he expects a much higher turnout this year based on the move, a better talent lineup and various other reasons.

Standing in the stadium Monday as it neared completion, McEvoy pointed out some of the other upgrades. The addition of the box seats means fans can now walk the entire seating area without having to go up and down stairs or ramps.

Access to the court for the players is through tunnels at each corner. In previous years, the tunnels didn’t exist, and players entered through open spaces between the seats. McEvoy said that will add to the experience by allowing for better introductions of players as they enter the court.

Fans will have their own grand entrance, as the stadium complex now has a designated archway entrance, new for 2011. Before, the opening was just an open space in the fence.

Also new are luxury boxes for sponsors at one end of the court that are elevated in the style of permanent facilities, and a hospitality tent for sponsors and season ticket holders is at the other end and will be covered by a canopy.

More bleacher seating on the west side was added, helping bring the total capacity from 1,800 to 2,500 and providing shade to the court and opposite bleachers.

“Our matches start at 7:30 p.m.,” McEvoy said, “so it’s usually pretty nice, but the sun is still up, and this will make it cooler (since the bleachers will block the sun).”

A concessions area around two sides of the parking lot will include booths from sponsors as well as places to buy food and drinks, as it has in previous years.

“We have more than just hamburgers and hot dogs,” McEvoy said, adding that pizza, barbecued chicken and ribs, salads, and a variety of other foods will be available. Final food vendors are still being determined.

A kids’ zone will have small tennis courts designed for those 10 and under and a radar chronometer set up in a booth so serve speed can be measured.

“There’s always something to do,” McEvoy said. “We open up at 6 p.m., and people can go around and grab something to eat or drink, or they can watch the players out practicing and warming up.”

The Capitals, in their 26th season, will play seven home matches and seven away matches across the country as they look to capture their seventh championship.

They were the first team in their league 10 years ago to play in a nontraditional venue, having previously played in permanent facilities such as at the old Arco Arena and then the Gold River Country Club.

The season runs from July 8 – 21, and some of the biggest names in tennis will make appearances.

“We have Mardy Fish, the No. 1 American player, coming July 15, Martina Hingis will be coming July 8, Serena Williams (on) July 9 and the Bryan Brothers (Bob and Mike) on July 12,” McEvoy said.

Groups of fans can schedule meet-and-greets with tennis stars in advance by calling the Capitals at 488-5000 or by visiting their website.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.

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