In some places, the carpets at Rabobank Arena and Convention Center need to be taped down. A pedestrian bridge over N street is rusting in spots.
In more ways than one, the Rabobank facilities are showing their age, and the city hopes to fund about $2.3 million worth of improvements over the next year through revenue raised from the city’s 1 percent sales tax increase.
“It’s time to do something,” said Steve Eckerson, Rabobank Arena General Manager, specifically referencing the 21-year-old concourse outside the arena. “It’s been touched up, but the colors are dated, and the look and feel is dated.”
The city hopes improvements to the Rabobank facilities – including new stadium seating for the amphitheater – will attract new businesses and increase revenue. Many of the facilities have never received a major update since they were built, Eckerson said.
“The city has done a good job with management and fixing things,” he said. “But we need to take the next step and really update it.”
The independent sales tax oversight committee recently voted not to approve the city’s improvement plan for Rabobank, saying they did not think the expenditures needed to be made in the first year of the tax.
The committee only has the power to recommend projects that use funds from Measure N revenue, and city officials have said they plan to move forward with the Rabobank improvements anyway.
The entire $56 million spending package, including the Rabobank portion, will soon go before the Bakersfield City Council for approval. The council could approve the whole package, even the parts that did not receive a committee recommendation.
However, if the council does not approve the Rabobank plans, the committee left open the possibility of recommending the improvement plan in the future.
Eckerson said that he planned to come back to the city next year with his funding requests if the improvements were not approved.
“These are needs that are going to have to be dealt with at some point,” he said.
Two of the most expensive improvements to Rabobank facilities include a proposed renovation of the concrete flooring in the convention center and a replacement of the arena’s hockey rink dashboards and protective glass.
Keith Gretzky, assistant general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, has complained to Rabobank about the quality of the hockey rink boundaries.
“We have noticed several gaps where a player’s skate or stick could get caught, potentially causing serious injury,” he wrote in a letter in February. “Of lesser concern, but also important are the occasional ‘bad bounces’ that occur due to the age of the system that could potentially impact the outcome of a game.”
The Bakersfield Condors hockey team, who play at Rabobank, are the top minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
Combined, upgrading the hockey rink and renovating the convention center floor is estimated to cost $895,465.
The oversight committee recommended nearly all other spending proposals put forward by the city, except a $1.5 million master plan update for the Kaiser Permanente Sports Village, which would be the first step to adding five additional football fields to the facility.
This article has been changed to reflect additional spending projects proposed for Rabobank.