The Bakersfield Dome, one of the more notable event venues in the city's history, will soon be sold and demolished to make way for a planned expansion of the nearby Mesa Verde immigration detention center on Golden State Avenue, the property's owner said Tuesday.

Built in the 1940s, the 1,650-seat stadium has hosted countless boxing, wrestling and other entertainment events. But declining attendance and the mounting need for repairs persuaded owner Chencho Madera to sell it.

The Dome, located at the northwest corner of V and 22nd streets, is now in escrow. Madera said he expects it to close in 60 days.

The prospective buyer is publicly traded GEO Group Inc., a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private operator of detention center and mental health facilities. The company could not be reached for comment.

Locally, GEO runs Mesa Verde and another facility in McFarland, as well as other detention, correctional and community reentry facilities around the world.

A supervisor at Mesa Verde, who refused to give his name and said he does not speak on behalf of Geo Group, said he was unaware of plans to expand the facility.

Surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire, Mesa Verde functions as a secure processing center for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A spokesman for the ICE said by email he had no information about the facility's expansion. He referred questions to GEO.

Bakersfield Development Services Director Jacqui Kitchen said real estate agents have contacted her staff recently to ask about The Dome. She was unable to confirm whether any calls came from people representing GEO.

If GEO does purchase the building as part of any plan to expand Mesa Verde, she said, the company would have to apply for an amended conditional use permit. Her office has received no such application to date, she noted. The existing permit was approved in 2013, the year the facility reopened after four years of vacancy.

Kitchen was unsure whether The Dome has any sort of historic status that would protect it from demolition. If the company does plan to tear down the building, she said, the building's status might have to be addressed.

Madera said he understood GEO is also in the process of buying El Morocco Motel, the only property standing between The Dome and Mesa Verde.

A property manager at El Morocco was unable to confirm any transaction involving the motel's owner.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

(14) comments

Fram Smith

Hate to tell you Jey, but GEO's private baby prison has more value to the city then any historical value "The Dome" ever had- even in its glory years. Don't fight it brother, just take all your savings and invest in GEO's publicly traded stock and earn 34% return on your investment. Stay out of way brother, private baby prisons pay bank for everyone involved.


I'll abstain from any comments about the detention center, as it clearly is quite contentious.

Does anyone else feel disappointed in our city for failing to value this unique and historic event venue enough to save it from destruction? Hopefully the deal falls through and if they must expand a detention center, they will do it in a direction that doesn't require us throwing away a piece of our history.

This space needs to be reinvented yet again to keep it from destruction. How about into Bakersfield's newest, coolest microbrewery?

Fram Smith

GEO and CiviCare are the 2 big ones in private baby prisons. Does anyone have any stocks that fund human trafficking?
Why stop at investing in baby prisons.


I may not invest in baby prisons, but I own a few shrimp boats.


Nooooooooooo! Where am I gonna watch Mr. Moto karate chop Freddie Blassie?

Fram Smith

What's wrong with making money putting babies in prison? Sorry for the typos...stop being so butt sore about life...INVEST IN GEO...BABY PRISONS FOR PROFIT !


"Private Prisions (sic)" . . . ? Let's not get into a P-Contest over this. As long as the "Detention Center" has all the same features and facilities as "The Dome", it can resume its "historic traditions". BTW, President Trump's "policy" is turn 'em back at the border, cut off the 5 hostile terrorist countries, and develop a renewal of this country's "immigration policy" established long ago--productive, legal foreign applicants (who can 'spell-check'), not invaders.

Fram Smith

The CEO of GEO is George Zoley. He is making bank with his publicly traded company up 34%! Invest in baby prisons for your retirement!

Fram Smith

GEO is a for profit private prison c

Citizen Kane

Yet another victim of the Soros-funded illegal invasion


How does Soros pay for everything you believe him to be funding? He's not the richest man in the world. Or even the United States. Not even Bill Gates could keep up. Dear gods, please, learn to think these things through.

Randy Fendrick

Just the beginning of what we are to see with Mr. Trump's immigration policy. Private prisions expanding our economy. How stupid can we get? Stick around and watch!


Step right up Randy and tell us how many illegal aliens you’re prepared to house in your place of domicile? Never mind. I forgot you live in a van down by the river.

Citizen Kane


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