California has 21 major professional sports franchises, far more than any other US state. The San Francisco Bay Area has six major league teams spread amongst three cities: San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The Greater Los Angeles Area has ten major league teams. San Diego and Sacramento each have one major league team.
California is home to some of most successful collegiate sports teams in the country. Among the list of NCAA schools with the most NCAA Division I championships the Stanford Cardinal, UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans and Cal Berkeley Golden Bears rank #1, #2, #3 and #10 on the list by teams with the most titles, and #1, #4, #2, and #7 by most individual titles, respectively.
It is the only U.S. state to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 summer games, and will host the 2028 Summer Olympics. The 1960 Winter Olympics was held at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe region.
California has produced the most Super Bowl winning Head Coaches in the history of the NFL, whether born or raised in the state (at least having attended High School in CA). Collecively, California Head Coaches have accounted for 17 Super Bowl wins. Great State In chronological order of first Super Bowl win: John Madden (Jefferson HS, Daly City), Tom Flores (Sanger; Sanger Union HS), Bill Walsh (Los Angeles; Hayward HS, Hayward), Joe Gibbs (Santa Fe HS, Santa Fe Springs), George Seifert (San Francisco; San Francisco Poly HS), Mike Holmgren (San Francisco; Abraham Lincoln HS), Dick Vermeil (Calistoga; Calistoga HS), Brian Billick (Redlands HS, Redlands), Sean Payton (San Mateo), Pete Carroll (San Francisco; Redwood HS, Larkspur), Andy Reid (Los Angeles; John Marshall HS).
Home to some of most prominent universities in the United States, California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs, in particular the University of Southern California, University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford University, all of which are members of the Pac-12 Conference. They are often nationally ranked in the various sports and dominate media coverage of college sports in the state. In addition, those Universities boast the highest academic standards (on average) of all major college (NCAA Division I) programs. All 4 schools are ranked, academically, in the top 30 nationally with either Cal or UCLA ranked as the #1 public university in the country (usually #20 overall) and Stanford as the highest academically ranked Division 1A university in the country (usually #5 overall).
California is also home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl (Pasadena), as well as the National Funding Holiday Bowl (San Diego) and San Francisco Bowl. A second San Diego game, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, was discontinued after the 2016 season.
According to the list of American universities with Olympic medalist students and alumni the top 4 universities on the list are, #1 USC Trojans (326), #2 Stanford Cardinal (302), #3 UCLA Bruins (270), and #4 Cal Berkeley Golden Bears (223). Also on the list of top 50 universities are, #27 Long Beach State Beach (47) and #38 UC Irvine Anteaters (33). Referencing a differing source, OlympStats (as of 2017), the all-time total number of Olympic athletes from California universities (1668) was nearly triple the amount from the next state, New York (559). The medal count was even more impressive, with California (678) accounting for more than 4 times the Gold medal count than the next state, Texas (157).
California has produced the most Heisman Trophy winners. Fifteen winners were born in and played high school football in the Golden State. Additionally, Mater Dei High School has produced 3 Heisman winners; more than any other high school in the country.
Seven Of these winners played collegiately at USC and one each at UCLA, Stanford, Army, Texas, Colorado, Notre Dame, Miami, and Alabama
The following California universities are members of NCAA Division I, or are upgrading from Division II to Division I (highlighted in green):
|Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo)||Mustangs||San Luis Obispo||Big West
(Big Sky for football)
|Cal State Bakersfield||Roadrunners||Bakersfield||Big West||—|
|Cal State Fullerton||Titans||Fullerton||Big West||—|
|Cal State Northridge||Matadors||Northridge||Big West||—|
|Fresno State||Bulldogs||Fresno||Mountain West||FBS|
|Long Beach State||The Beach||Long Beach||Big West||—|
|Loyola Marymount||Lions||Los Angeles||WCC||—|
|Sacramento State||Hornets||Sacramento||Big Sky||FCS|
|San Diego||Toreros||San Diego||WCC||—|
|San Diego State||Aztecs||San Diego||Mountain West||FBS|
|San Francisco||Dons||San Francisco||WCC||—|
|San Jose State||Spartans||San Jose||Mountain West||FBS|
|Santa Clara||Broncos||Santa Clara||WCC||—|
|UC Davis||Aggies||Davis||Big West
(Big Sky for football)
|UC Irvine||Anteaters||Irvine||Big West||—|
|UC Riverside||Highlanders||Riverside||Big West||—|
|UC San Diego||Tritons||San Diego||Big West||—|
|UC Santa Barbara||Gauchos||Santa Barbara||Big West||—|
California has hosted the Olympic Games three times. Los Angeles, the largest city in the state, hosted both the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics. Squaw Valley, California hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Los Angeles and San Francisco were in the race for the United States Olympic Committee nomination to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but eventually lost to Chicago. Los Angeles will host the Olympic Games for a third time in 2028.
Besides the Olympics, California has also hosted several major international soccer events:
San Diego will host the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship in men's field lacrosse, with San Diego State's Snapdragon Stadium as the main venue and the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium, plus various fields at both universities, also hosting matches.
Most city municipals house a variety of sports activities. The available sports are typically listed on their city websites. Additionally, there are a variety of California Sports activities listed on FindSportsNow's California database.
California has also long been a hub for motorsports and auto racing. The city of Long Beach, as part of the IndyCar Series, hosts the Long Beach Grand Prix every year in the month of April. The race that take place in the streets of downtown Long Beach is the longest running major street race held in North America. Long Beach has hosted Formula One events there in the past, and also currently hosts an event on the United SportsCar Championship schedule.
Auto Club Speedway is a speedway in Fontana and currently hosts one NASCAR Cup Series race along with the 2nd-tier Xfinity Series a year. Sonoma Raceway is a multi-purpose facility outside Sonoma, featuring a road course and a drag strip. Different versions of the road course are home to a NASCAR event and an IndyCar event. The drag strip hosts a yearly NHRA event. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a road course near Monterey that currently hosts an ALMS event, a round of the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The Auto Club Raceway at Pomona has hosted NHRA drag racing for over 50 years.
The NASCAR Cup Series holds two races in California, one each at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana (originally named the California Speedway) and at the Sonoma Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway. The IndyCar Series competes every April in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, through the streets of downtown Long Beach. IndyCar also holds an event at Sonoma in the summer. The NHRA Drag Racing Series holds three national events in California, as well; two at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (formerly Pomona Raceway) and at the aforementioned Sonoma Raceway.
Notable off-road courses include Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, Glen Helen Raceway and Prairie City State Park. Also, the AMA Supercross Series holds several events in stadiums at Californian cities such as Anaheim, Oakland, and San Diego.
California has several notable golf courses, like Cypress Point Club, Olympic Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Riviera Country Club – Pacific Palisades, California and Torrey Pines Golf Course. Notable tournaments include the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Northern Trust Open, Farmers Insurance Open.
Notable Californian golfers include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller, Gene Littler, Collin Morikawa, Amy Alcott, Paula Creamer, and Juli Inkster.
Horse racing is regulated by the California Horse Racing Board. Notable racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Fairgrounds, Los Alamitos, Golden Gate Fields and Pleasanton Fairgrounds. Notable races include the Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Handicap, Pacific Classic Stakes and Champion of Champions.
Former racetracks include Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park.
California is widely regarded as the "mecca of MMA" for being the birthplace of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), Strikeforce MMA, the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting), among other prominent MMA promotion orgs, and also for the quality and quantity of MMA fighters born or bred there. Bruce Lee, a California native, is considered one of the pioneering figures in the development of MMA.
Not only is California a hotbed for producing native-born MMA fighters, but it also draws many elite athletes from around the world with level of training/gyms. California is home to many of the most successful and historic professional MMA gyms: AKA, Alliance MMA, Team Alpha Male, Black House (MMA), Kings MMA, Lion's Den (original), RVCA Training Center, Skrap Pack-Cesar Gracie Fight Team).
Countless of Champions in the sport of MMA are California born or bred, or have their fight training in California.
Skateboarding is a sport heavily associated with California as it is the place where the sport started. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk was born in Carlsbad, California in 1968 and was involved in many bowl riding and vert competitions there.
The California State Games, a statewide Olympics-like sport event, take place in California every year. The United States Olympic Committee governs this event.
Most of the teams from Northern California and Southern California are involved in intrastate rivalries. There are particularly strong rivalries between the Bay Area and Los Angeles teams, even extending to college teams.
Various rivalries involved two teams from specific metro areas in either Northern or Southern California.
Los Angeles and San Diego:
Future venues in italics.
|Rose Bowl||Pasadena||92,542||Football||UCLA Bruins; Rose Bowl Game||1922|
|Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||Los Angeles||77,500||Football||USC Trojans||1923|
|San Diego Stadium
(demolished in 2021)
|San Diego||71,294||Multi-purpose||San Diego Chargers (1967–2016),
San Diego Padres (1969–2003),
San Diego State Aztecs (1967–2019);
|SoFi Stadium||Inglewood||70,240||Multi-purpose||Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams||2020|
(demolished in 2015)
|San Francisco||70,207||Multi-purpose||San Francisco 49ers (1971-2013), San Francisco Giants (1960-1999)||1960|
|Levi's Stadium||Santa Clara||68,500||Football||San Francisco 49ers, (2014–present)||2014|
|RingCentral Coliseum||Oakland||63,026||Multi-purpose||Oakland Athletics||1966|
|California Memorial Stadium||Berkeley||62,717||Football||California Golden Bears||1923|
|Kezar Stadium (original)
(demolished in 1989)
|San Francisco||59,924||Football||San Francisco Dons (1925–1951, 1959–1971),
San Francisco 49ers (1946–1970),
Oakland Raiders (1960)
|Dodger Stadium||Los Angeles||56,000||Baseball||Los Angeles Dodgers||1962|
|Stanford Stadium||Stanford||50,000||Football||Stanford Cardinal||1921; 2006|
|Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Anaheim||45,050||Baseball||Los Angeles Angels||1966|
|Petco Park||San Diego||42,445||Baseball||San Diego Padres; Holiday Bowl||2004|
|Oracle Park||San Francisco||41,503||Baseball||San Francisco Giants;
Foster Farms Bowl
|Valley Children's Stadium||Fresno||41,031||Football||Fresno State Bulldogs||1980|
|Snapdragon Stadium||San Diego||35,000||Football||San Diego State Aztecs, San Diego Wave FC; San Diego Legion (in 2023)||2022|
|CEFCU Stadium||San Jose||30,456||Football||San Jose State Spartans||1933|
|Dignity Health Sports Park||Carson||27,000||Soccer||LA Galaxy,
Los Angeles Wildcats,
San Diego State Aztecs (2020–2021)
|Banc of California Stadium||Los Angeles||22,000||Soccer||Los Angeles FC,
Angel City FC
|Hornet Stadium||Sacramento||21,650||Football||Sacramento State Hornets||1969|
|Railyards Stadium||Sacramento||21,000||Soccer||Sacramento Republic FC (MLS, TBD)||2023|
|Crypto.com Arena||Los Angeles||18,997||Arena||Los Angeles Clippers,
Los Angeles Lakers,
Los Angeles Kings,
Los Angeles Sparks
|SAP Center at San Jose||San Jose||18,543||Arena||San Jose Sharks
San Jose Barracuda
Bay Area Panthers
|Honda Center||Anaheim||18,211||Arena||Anaheim Ducks||1993|
|Chase Center||San Francisco||18,064||Arena||Golden State Warriors||2019|
|PayPal Park||San Jose||18,000||Soccer||San Jose Earthquakes||2015|
|Intuit Dome||Inglewood||18,000||Arena||Los Angeles Clippers (in 2024)||2024|
|Golden 1 Center||Sacramento||17,500||Arena||Sacramento Kings||2016|
|Sleep Train Arena||Sacramento||17,317||Arena||Sacramento Kings (1988–2016)||1988|
|Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
(demolished in 2016)
|Indian Wells Tennis Garden Stadium 1||Indian Wells||16,100||Tennis||Indian Wells Masters||2000|
|Save Mart Center||Fresno||15,544||Arena||Fresno State Bulldogs||2003|
|Pechanga Arena||San Diego||14,500||Arena||San Diego Gulls
San Diego Sockers
|Sutter Health Park||West Sacramento||14,011||Baseball||Sacramento River Cats||2000|
|Pauley Pavilion||Los Angeles||13,800||Arena||UCLA Bruins||1965|
|Cow Palace||Daly City||12,953||Arena||1941|
|Chukchansi Park||Fresno||12,500||Baseball / soccer||Fresno Grizzlies, Fresno FC (2018–2020)||2002|
|Viejas Arena||San Diego||12,414||Arena||San Diego State Aztecs||1997|
|Haas Pavilion||Berkeley||11,858||Arena||California Golden Bears||1933|
|Long Beach Arena||Long Beach||11,719||Arena||1962|
|Heart Health Park||Sacramento||11,442||Soccer||Sacramento Republic FC
|Stockton Arena||Stockton||11,100||Arena||Stockton Heat
|Toyota Arena||Ontario||10,832||Arena||Ontario Clippers, Ontario Reign, Ontario Fury||2008|
|Galen Center||Los Angeles||10,258||Arena||USC Trojans||2006|
|Kezar Stadium (current)||San Francisco||10,000||Soccer||Many teams, most recently San Francisco Deltas (2017)||1990|
|Titan Stadium||Fullerton||10,000||Soccer||Cal State Fullerton Titans, California United FC, Angel City FC (NWSL Challenge Cup matches)||1992|
|Mechanics Bank Arena||Bakersfield||9,333||Arena||Bakersfield Condors||1998|
|Dignity Health Sports Park (tennis)||Carson||9,000||Tennis||2004|
|Walter Pyramid||Long Beach||8,500||Arena||Long Beach State Beach||1994|
|Indian Wells Tennis Garden Stadium 2||Indian Wells||8,000||Tennis||Indian Wells Masters||2014|
|The Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center||Anaheim||7,500||Arena||1967|
|The Pavilion at ARC||Davis||7,650||Arena||UC Davis Aggies||1977|
|Maples Pavilion||Stanford||7,233||Arena||Stanford Cardinal||1969; 2004|
|Stevens Stadium||Santa Clara||7,000||Soccer||Santa Clara Broncos||1962|
|Torero Stadium||San Diego||6,000||Football / soccer||San Diego Toreros, San Diego Legion, San Diego Loyal SC, San Diego Wave FC (2022 only)||1961|
|Alex G. Spanos Center||Stockton||6,100||Arena||Pacific Tigers||1981|
|Bren Events Center||Irvine||6,000||Arena||UC Irvine Anteaters||1984|
|UC Santa Barbara Events Center||Santa Barbara||6,000||Arena||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||1979|
|San Jose State Event Center||San Jose||5,000||Arena||San Jose State Spartans||1989|
|Los Angeles Tennis Center||Los Angeles||5,800||Tennis||UCLA Bruins||1984|
|Jenny Craig Pavilion||San Diego||5,500||Arena||San Diego Toreros||1992|
|Laney College Football Stadium||Oakland||5,500||Football / soccer||Laney Eagles, Oakland Roots SC||1966 (?)|
|The Sobrato Center||San Francisco||5,300||Arena||San Francisco Dons||1974|
|RIMAC||San Diego||5,000||Arena||UC San Diego Tritons||1992|
|Titan Gym||Fullerton||5,000||Arena||Cal State Fullerton Titans||1964|
|Coussoulis Arena||San Bernardino||5,000||Arena||Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes||1995|
|Kezar Pavilion||San Francisco||5,000||Arena||1924|
|Orange Pavilion||San Bernardino||5,000||Arena|
|Leavey Center||Santa Clara||5,000||Arena||Santa Clara Broncos||1974|