The Bakersfield Condors open a 28-week American Hockey League season Oct. 6 in Stockton, the earliest ever start for hockey season in Bakersfield.
The home opener is Oct. 12 against San Antonio, the first time the franchise has opened at home on a Thursday.
“We’ve always opened on a weekend, typically Friday or Saturday, but I think Thursday can be a good night for us,” Condors president Matthew Riley said.
Riley also said the organization tries to limit the number of Friday home games early in the season because of high school football.
“We try to avoid that,” he said. “I like going to high school football games as well. We can do Friday, but we want to have less rather than more.”
This season there is just one Friday night home game, Oct. 27, during the regular prep football season.
The Condors will face 11 teams over the course of the 68-game schedule.
Twenty-two of the 34 home games will played on Fridays or Saturdays. There is one Tuesday game, six on Wednesdays and four on Thursdays, plus one Sunday game. The Tuesday through Thursday games will start at 6:30 p.m., with Friday and Saturday games at 7. Saturday games started at 6 p.m. last season.
Riley said the earlier midweek starts came about after some polling, the thought being those who work downtown will not have to try to get home and rush back while also getting families with school-age children home a bit earlier.
As for going back to a later start on Saturday, Riley said it was “a tough decision.”
“The decrease in attendance on Saturdays with the 6 o’clock start was noticeable,” he said. “It didn’t translate. A lot of people love 6 o’clock starts, a lot love 7. We’re not going to make everyone happy.”
Those who want to arrive early on Saturday can still do so, Riley said, as the team plans a “Party on The Plaza” outside Rabobank Arena featuring a variety of activities from 5-7 for every Saturday night home game.
The Condors will see Stockton, San Jose and Ontario most often, with 10 games against each of those teams. They face San Diego and Tucson eight times each. All of those games are split between home and away.
Interestingly, seven of the games against Stockton will be played before Dec. 2. Conversely, the first home game against San Diego is not until Jan. 26.
The Condors will host San Antonio in the annual Teddy Bear Toss Game on Nov. 25. The popular Field Trip Day game (10:30 a.m. start) is against Stockton on Nov. 30.
The longest homestand is five games (Oct. 27-Nov. 4) and the longest road trip is five games (Dec. 5-17).
The Condors host San Jose in a preseason game on Sept. 28 and are in Stockton on Sept. 29 for their final preseason game.