Mather Today

Mather Today
Since 1993, Sacramento County, the local redevelopment agency for the former Mather Air Force Base, has been transforming Mather into a regional employment hub. In 1988, the regional economy here received a blow when Mather Air Force Base was targeted for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The base closed in 1993, erasing about 7,600 jobs and some $150 million in annual income from the Sacramento area.

Located partially in unincorporated Sacramento County and partially in the city of Rancho Cordova, in 2012 Mather housed 80 businesses and government agencies, an enormous regional park and 18-hole golf course, more than 1,200 single-family homes, a cargo-focused airport and other amenities. An estimated 5,000 people worked there in 2012.

Much of the property at the former base (about 4,188 of 5,717 acres total) was still owned by the Air Force at the end of 2011. The airport and parks are owned by the Air Force and leased to Sacramento County until the property is deeded to county ownership.

VA Medical Center
The old base hospital has been converted into an administrative building and outpatient clinic, adjacent to a $48 million five-story hospital completed in 2002. Both are part of the bustling Sacramento Veterans' Affairs Medical Center at Mather - operated by the federal government on land located within the city limits of Rancho Cordova -- a city incorporated years after the former base closed. Some 1,250-1,300 veterans from throughout Northern California visit the Medical Center every day for medical, surgical, mental health and diagnostic services, according to Beverly Atherton-Pierce, executive assistant to the director. The complex includes a 60-bed hospital, which provided inpatient care to an average of 49 patients per day during the 2010 fiscal year. The Medical Center is one of Mather's biggest employers, with more than 800 workers at the end of 2010, Atherton-Pierce said.

Across the street, the former Main Base area is now known as the Mather Commerce Center, about 600 acres of business development located with Rancho Cordova city limits. One large employer is Sutter Health and Sutter Health Information Services, employing about 700 in late 2010. Blood Source moved to Mather about a year ago, setting up an administration building and lab collectively employing 250 by the end of 2010. Most businesses lease buildings at Mather, although the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) bought property from the county and constructed its own building, where about 330 employees worked in late 2010.
Another large employer is TRACON, the Federal Aviation Administration's Terminal Radar Approach Control, which employed 300 people by late 2010 at a Douglas Road location outside city limits.

Mather Airport
Mather Airport, operated by the Sacramento County Department of Airports, reopened as a civilian airport in 1995. The airport has a 24-hour air traffic control tower and two lighted and paved runways, including one of the longest runways in California (11,300 feet long). Although the airport has attracted general aviation, military use and air taxis, the primary focus is air cargo. UPS and other contracted air cargo feeder companies shipped over 79.9 million pounds of freight through Mather in the fiscal year ending June 20, 2011, according to the department's annual financial report.

In addition to other attributes, the airport has more than 800 acres available for industrial development. The 2004 Draft Final Mather Master Plan's Environmental Review was nearing completion in April, 2012 and should be available for public review and presented for the County Board of Supervisors' consideration and final approval during 2012. Additional information about Mather Airport is available at

An adjacent sports center run by the Cordova Recreation and Park District provides the public with recently-renovated facilities such as a state-of-the art softball complex, a huge new skateboard park, an all-weather soccer field, a gym, racquetball courts, a weight room, aerobics classes, an outdoor jogging trail, lockers and showers. Nearby is Mather Community Campus, a two-year transitional housing program for the homeless run by Volunteers of America. Ellen O'Neil, campus director, said in late 2010, "We have 44 families -- approximately 90 children and 175 single adults." These students, as program participants are known, are taught skills needed for self-sufficiency. In June 2010, the program graduated 51 formerly homeless men and women to new jobs and safe homes. About 80 employees worked at MCC at the end of 2010, O'Neil said.

In the south part of the former base, dilapidated military housing was demolished and replaced with 1,271 attractive homes comprising a community known as "Independence at Mather." Proximate amenities include the 1,434-acre Mather Regional Park, with an 18-hole golf course and a lake stocked with bass and trout. Hikers and picnickers enjoy the area, and vernal pools - with their seasonal displays of wildflowers - attract thousands of visitors in spring.

Another big draw is the annual California Capitol Air Show, which attracted a record 120,000 viewers to Mather in September 2010.

Environmental Cleanup
In the background of Mather's commerce and redevelopment is the environmental cleanup overseen by the Air Force Real Property Agency. The military used chemicals, including fuels, solvents and oils at Mather in support of national defense activities from 1918 to 1993, although there were several breaks in service. In 1979, contamination was detected in water supply wells. Environmental cleanup began in the 1980s, years before Mather closed. The cleanup primarily includes removing contaminants from the soil and groundwater beneath the land surface.

Progress made in the environmental cleanup effort has been a successful platform for the redevelopment of Mather, ensuring the safety of those who live and work at the former base. Early transfer of some property from the Air Force to the county about 10 years ago allowed development to proceed while the Air Force continued cleaning up the former base.

"The Mather cleanup program is progressing very well. Our state-of-the-art soil and groundwater remedial systems are in place and running smoothly. The treatment systems have removed over 1 million pounds of volatile organic compounds and petroleum products from the ground and treated over 12 billion gallons of groundwater,"according to Doug Self, Mather's BRAC Environmental Coordinator. "The Air Force has completed the cleanup process at nearly 90 percent of contaminated sites. The Air Force will be here until the cleanup job is finished," he added.