BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- In a major boost to the local sports landscape, the Bakersfield Blaze
are moving forward with plans for a new, state-of-the-art ballpark at Bakersfield Commons, the planned mixed-use community located at the intersection of Coffee and Brimhall Roads, where northwest and southwest Bakersfield come together.
Bakersfield Commons also plans to advance its first phase of retail development in connection with the ballpark. Groundbreaking for the stadium is expected in the first quarter of 2013, with the park set to open in 2014. The surrounding retail center is in the planning stage and construction is anticipated to start in 2014.
The new ballpark will have approximately 3,500 fixed seats, and will include modern amenities such as luxury suites and special event space for groups and families, picnic areas and a children's playground. The ballpark will be built on 15 acres at the northern end of the Bakersfield Commons site, and the Blaze will relocate from Sam Lynn Ballpark, where Bakersfield baseball has lived since 1941.
Last year, a new ownership group led by local business leaders Gene Voiland and Chad Hathaway purchased the Blaze, and a commitment was made to find a location to build a modern ballpark that would deliver a first-rate experience for the community.
"Bakersfield Commons is a spectacular location for the new ballpark, which we intend to be the finest Class A ballpark in the country," Voiland said. "By connecting a new state-of-the-art stadium to a unique retail district, we are creating a family destination that will be extremely attractive for everyone in Bakersfield."
The retail portion of the development will feature an inviting "Main Street" that links to the ballpark. The walkable area will include a mix of retail stores and restaurants, and a modern multiplex cinema with stadium seating. The architecture and design, in addition to the fountains, benches and landscaped sidewalks, will encourage visitors to take their time and enjoy the shopping, dining and ballpark experiences.
The 255-acre Bakersfield Commons property is owned by Coffee-Brimhall LLC, whose principals include brothers Robert and Steve Roth. "Bakersfield Commons and the Bakersfield Blaze have created a tremendous partnership, and we are extremely excited to move forward with this plan that can have such a positive impact on the City of Bakersfield," said Steve Roth.
"Bakersfield Commons has the potential to be a transformative project for Bakersfield," according to Robert Roth. "The Blaze stadium is the perfect catalyst to get this started. I can't wait to be there for the first pitch, and for the opening of this welcoming retail district," he added.
Like other modern facilities, the stadium will be expressly designed to be a sports and entertainment complex, serving the community year-round. In addition to hosting Blaze home games, the new ballpark can be used for a variety of other events, such as college baseball and softball games, soccer matches and concerts.
Fans will be able to access the new ballpark via entrances to Bakersfield Commons on Coffee Road and Brimhall Road. The new Westside Parkway has an off-ramp that connects to the property at Coffee Road. "This is a strategic location, especially when considering the new Westside Parkway, and provides tremendous access for residents from throughout the area," said Cindy Pollard, executive director of the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. "This is not just a home run for our community. It's a grand slam."
Blaze manager, Ken Griffey, Sr., believes the new stadium will have a positive impact on the team. "I can't tell you how valuable it will be to play in a facility that offers the best experience possible for our players and fans," he said. "Filling the seats with excited Blaze fans will mean a lot to the team. This new stadium will create a lot of pride for everyone in Bakersfield."
Season tickets for the 2013 Blaze season -- set to be played at venerable Sam Lynn Ballpark -- are on sale now. Current ticketholders will receive priority on seats at the team's future home. In addition, businesses looking to get involved in sponsorship packages should contact the Blaze front office, as they, like season seat-holders, will be first in line at the new stadium. Seats and sponsorships are expected to sell out once construction is complete, so those interested in tickets and sponsorships are strongly encouraged to resist the temptation to wait, and join the Blaze now!
Fans can continue to follow the Blaze via the team homepage, BakersfieldBlaze.com, or on the team's Facebook page and via twitter, @BakoBlaze to stay up to date on all the progress.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.