After many years of use, Bakersfield College’s football stadium is in need of a little love.
According to the college, the field lighting is inadequate. The sound systems are insufficient. The concession stands and restrooms are in need of modernization. To resolve these issues and more, the college is renovating its Memorial Stadium, with work expected to start on April 1.
The $12.5 million project will largely be funded through Measure J, which was approved by voters in 2016.
“This will be a beautiful stadium that will serve Bakersfield College students for the next 50 years,” said Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Mike Giacomini. “It’s really going to benefit the college in a lot of different ways.”
The project will be split in two phases, with the first consisting of field and track replacement. Giacomini said the district will be moving from natural to artificial turf, which requires less maintenance.
This first phase is estimated to be completed in August for the start of the next football season. Once the season is over, Giacomini said work will start on the second phase, which will include new, energy-efficient field lighting as well as concession stand, restroom and press box renovations.
This phase is expected to start in January and be wrapped up in August 2020.
For work on the project to be completed, Giacomini said the district is completely closing the stadium. While BC’s graduation ceremony would normally be held at the stadium in May, it is being moved this year to the Rabobank Arena so work can be done on the stadium.
“It’s definitely a break from tradition,” Giacomini said. “It’s more a logistical challenge, but our feeling is there’s going to be sufficient seating."
According to Rabobank Arena, the arena can seat up to around 10,000 people.
As for sports, the stadium’s closure this spring and summer isn’t expected to have a significant impact, according to the district, as games aren’t typically held at the stadium around this time of year.
“It will still be business as usual for student-athletes,” Giacomini said. “The sports that are affected aren’t in season right now.”
BC Athletics Director Sandi Taylor said the track team will be using their practice field and may also need to practice off-site. The soccer team will be using its practice fields across from the library.
“The team prefers to be out of the stadium because it’s not wide enough for most games,” she said. “That will change with this new project.”
While Taylor said the football team practices during the summer, it has typically used its practice field rather than the stadium.
Giacomini said the district initially planned to do the project in one shot but later decided to break it up into two phases to lessen the impact on students.
“We’re going to be able to facilitate all of the sports needs, but (teams) are going to need to be flexible as we maneuver through these changes,” he said.
Taylor said she’s looking forward to seeing the renovated stadium and hopes it will better serve the students.
“It’s a very exciting time for us,’ she said. “There’s been some work done to the stadium over the years but this will be the biggest makeover it’s had in decades. It’s all needed, and I’m looking forward to all of it.”