As the Bakersfield Blaze (High A; California League) prepare to move on, local officials are left to plot the future of Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Sam Lynn Ballpark has long been obsolete for Minor League Baseball, but it offers plenty of history and some apparent value to its owner, Kern County Rec and Parks. While the possibility of another professional team does not look to be on the horizon, the current sentiment seems to lean toward keeping the facility up and running after the Blaze depart.
Currently, county officials are reaching out to high school and amateur baseball circuits about using the facility. This course is not uncommon in these situations, as local governments find an advantage in reusing former MiLB ballparks as a community resource rather than tearing them down. The situation in Bakersfield would seem to apply in this case, as Sam Lynn Ballpark is already a part of the much larger Metropolitan Park Complex.
All signs point to there being interest among local organizations in keeping the ballpark up and running. The issue, however, will be ensuring a viable maintenance plan for the facility. More from Bakersfield.com:
Brad Showers, the baseball coach at Stockdale High School, said the high school coaches have already met to talk about the Sam Lynn opportunity.
There is interest there, he said, especially for tournaments like the annual one hosted by TERRIO Therapy-Fitness.
But Showers said there’s also a desire for high school coaches to play their teams on their home fields.
He said his Stockdale team went 20-8 last season but played only nine games at home.
Stockdale was undefeated on its home turf.
And there are concerns, he said, about the county’s ability to keep aging Sam Lynn up to snuff.
The Blaze will leave Bakersfield in large part because decades of scheming, planning and fundraising have failed to produce a new, modern stadium to replace Sam Lynn. Sam Lynn, which opened in 1941, is far behind the times as major league affiliates go.
“The playing surface is always nice,” Showers said. But the rest of the facility is “dilapidated.”
Coaches talked, he said, about Kern County’s dire budget situation and worried the county wouldn’t be able to manage the upkeep Sam Lynn needs.
Even with a high school program or programs in place, Sam Lynn Ballpark–which first opened in 1941–is still going to require a plan to ensure that it can stay up and running. If the county can work out a solution, the ballpark could continue to host baseball long after the Blaze leave as part of the California League/Carolina League realignment.
RELATED STORIES: Sun Sets in Bakersfield, High Desert