Sports in Bakersfield

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Sports in Bakersfield
Minor League
Number of teams 3
Number of venues 3
Number of championships 3
First team Badgers (1941)
University
University California State University, Bakersfield
Division Division I
Conference Independent
College
College Bakersfield College
Athletic association CCCAA
Conference Western State Conference
Other
Other venues

Bakersfield is home to several minor league sports franchises and athletic programs at Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield.

Bakersfield is also the center for racing sports held in the region. They include drag strip, jet boat, dirt track and paved. Most are held at tracks located about 20 miles outside of the city.

Professional Sports[edit]

Club League Venue Established Championships
Bakersfield Blaze CAL, Baseball Sam Lynn Ballpark 1941 2
Bakersfield Condors ECHL, Ice hockey Rabobank Arena 1995 0
Bakersfield Jam D-League, Basketball Jam Events Center 2003 1

Baseball[edit]

The Bakersfield Blaze plays in the California League (CL). It is Bakersfield’s oldest professional sports franchise, founded in 1941. The baseball team plays at Sam Lynn Ballpark, one of a few active professional baseball fields that face west.

Basketball[edit]

The Bakersfield Jam plays in the D-League (NBA development league). Originally from Long Beach, they moved to Bakersfield in 2006. They used to play exclusively in the Rabobank Arena, but have moved most of their games to the Jam Events Center.

Hockey[edit]

The Bakersfield Condors play in the ECHL. Formally known as the Fog, they used to play in the Civic Auditorium and Convention Center (later renamed Rabobank Theater and convention center). They moved to the Centennial Garden (later renamed Rabobank Arena) after it was constructed in 1998.

College[edit]

Bakersfield currently has two colleges, both with large sports programs. Bakersfield College is a community college, which is a part of the Western State Conference. Its most recognized sport is football, played at the 20,000 seat Memorial Stadium. The football program currently has four national championships.[1] In addition, Bakersfield College competes in 18 men’s and women’s sports including: basketball, swimming, tennis, track & field, and wrestling.[2]

California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) is a four year university, which is a NCAA division I school. It’s most recognized sport is men’s basketball, which is played at Rabobank Arena. The basketball program has three national championships (all when the school was in division II).[3] In addition, CSUB competes in 17 men’s and women’s sports including: baseball, soccer, swimming and diving, and water polo.[4]

Racing[edit]

Bakersfield is the home of several motor sports venues. The Bakersfield Speedway is a ⅓-mile (500m) banked clay oval track. It hosts weekly Saturday-night racing, most notably the World of Outlaws. The Bakersfield Speedway is currently attempting to become a more nationally significant track by hosting races that feature out-of-state drivers.

After the destruction of the Mesa Marin Raceway, a new track, formerly known as Kern County's New Home to NASCAR,[5] and now known as the Kern River Speedway was approved for construction by the Kern County Board of Supervisors in December, 2006. The track will be built west of Bakersfield, at the Interstate 5/Highway 43 (Enos Lane) interchange near the Kern River, on what is now an almond orchard. Current designs indicate a ½-mile (800m), high-banked tri-oval, similar to its predecessor, which will allow speeds over 140 mph (230 km/h). The track is set to open for the 2008 racing season and will host local racing events, a popular high school racing series, and the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series events. Construction has halted due to the falling out of California's real estate market that the track financiers were depending on to sell land to fund the construction of the track. The track lies in a state of flux half built with creditors unpaid. A time of finishing is yet to be set but will likely take a few more years due to the current financial situation in California and the U.S.

Famoso Raceway is a drag racing track north of Bakersfield. Each Spring, they host an event called the March Meet. The initial March Meet was started by the car club The Bakersfield Smokers, in 1959, and included the legendary Swamp Rat machine driven by "Big Daddy" Don Garlits. This event, which originally gave legitimacy to the NHRA, is now a nostalgic drag racing event held every March and operated by the track. In the fall of each year, Auto Club Famoso Raceway also hosts the California Hot Rod Reunion, a gathering of street rodders, drag racers and auto enthusiasts.

Buttonwillow Raceway Park is 38 miles northwest of Bakersfield and hosts road racing events year round. The track is owned by the California Sports Car Club, it has been featured in automotive magazines as a test track, as well as being a regular location for the Redline Time Attack series.

The national jet boat association holds races at Lake Ming, in Northeast Bakersfield. During racing season, qualifying rounds, and elimination rounds are held on Saturday. Finals are held on Sunday.[6]

Former franchises[edit]

Club League Venue Years in Bakersfield Championships
Bakersfield Blitz Af2, Arena Football Rabobank Arena 2004–2007 0
Bakersfield Brigade PDL, Soccer Bakersfield Christian High School 2005–2009 0

Notable events[edit]

Bakersfield hosts state, national and international sporting events. Several have been broadcast around the nation and world. Some of the more notable events include:

  • Stage 5 finish for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California.[7]
  • Host for the 2011 ECHL all-star hockey game.[8]
  • CIF State Wrestling Championships (high school), 2004–present
  • CIF State Basketball Championships (high school), 2010

Sports Venues[edit]

Rabobank Arena

The city's major civic center, the Rabobank Arena (formerly known as Centennial Garden) in downtown Bakersfield, is the home of the Bakersfield Condors; an ECHL AA-level hockey team,who are now affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. In addition, the arena hosts basketball teams of CSU Bakersfield, the California State High School Wrestling Championships, sporting, and entertainment conventions. The Bakersfield Blitz; a former af2 team, also played at Rabobank Arena. The arena was the former home of the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Developmental League. The Jam plan to play in a small practice gym on Roberts Lane in Oildale next to Meadows Field Airport converted to host games as a cost-saving measure in 2009-10.

Historic Sam Lynn Ballpark plays host to the city's minor league baseball team, the Blaze, along with local high school baseball tournaments, is located in the northern downtown area. Built in 1941, it is the oldest stadium in the California League and is the only remaining professional baseball stadium in the United States that faces west.

Other arenas include the McMurtrey Aquatic Center, which includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool that hosts high-school events, a recreational pool with two waterslides, a smaller "child safe" pool, lockers, showers, and much more. The Ice Sports center hosts youth hockey. The Kern County Soccer Park is the largest soccer facility in California.

Bakersfield has been a stop for the Ben Hogan Tour and Nike Tour. It also hosts PGA Tour qualifying events and NCAA Division II regionals and tournaments. Courses include the private Seven Oaks Country Club, the Bakersfield Country Club, the Rio Bravo Country Club and the public River Lakes Golf Club.

The Dome, a small building formerly known as Strongbow Stadium, hosts a number of different events including concerts, boxing, kickboxing, and professional wrestling.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Renegade football history. Bakersfield College. Accessed: 05-21-2010.
  2. ^ Athletics. Bakersfield College. Accessed: 05-21-2010.
  3. ^ Roadrunner Athletics. California State University, Bakersfield. Accessed: 05-21-2010.
  4. ^ Go Runners. California State University, Bakersfield. Accessed: 05-21-2010.
  5. ^ "Kern County's New Home to Nascar". Kerncountynascar.com. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  6. ^ Home Page. National Jet Boat Association. Accessed: 05-21-2010.
  7. ^ Stage 5. Amgen Tour of California.
  8. ^ Bakersfield Selected to Host 2011 ECHL All-Star Game. ECHL. February 18, 2010. Accessed: 05-21-2010.