Bakersfield Blaze: No new ballpark after funding falls through

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Bakersfield Blaze owners Gene Voiland and Chad Hathaway said Monday that their plans to build a new minor-league baseball stadium are dead.

Plans announced last fall included the stadium opening in time for the 2014 season. The opening was later delayed to 2015.

The ballpark was supposed to be part of a mixed-use development off Coffee Road near Rosedale Highway. The Bakersfield Commons project is intended to include retail, office buildings, open space and residential properties, according to the developers via Sugerman Communications Group.

"While we felt that a new stadium would be complementary to the retail district, the Blaze ownership's decision does not alter our approach and commitment to the project," the people behind Bakersfield Commons said in a news release Monday.

Voiland and Hathaway said the "new stadium appears to be very unlikely" in their news release Monday. They said they simply couldn't raise the money needed to build the ballpark.

"Over the past two years, we have worked tirelessly with many people to build a privately financed stadium that the people of Bakersfield could be proud of and would support," they said in a written statement. "We made significant efforts to raise money from inside Kern County and nationally. Although we obtained significant commitments for the project, we fell substantially short of the goal required to build a stadium that would be successful. We are very thankful to those dedicated partners (contractors, government officials, land owners and investors) who were willing to step up and make an investment in baseball and the Bakersfield community. Bakersfield should be one of the best Minor League Baseball markets in the country, and the stadium would have been transformational for the city and region."

The team's current home, Sam Lynn Ballpark, was built in 1941.