By Ryan Holt | AHL On The Beat
When the Bakersfield Condors hit the ice outside at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium on January 7, 2017, it will be the culmination of 18 days of family fun and entertainment. Certainly, the Three-Way Chevrolet Condorstown Outdoor Classic presented by Mission Bank is the feature event of the nearly three-week long spectacle that is Winterfest, but since its announcement in early August, the focus has always been on creating a family-friendly atmosphere over the holidays.
“We wanted to make sure the event was more than just the game itself and provided a way to give back to the community,” said Condors Team President Matthew Riley. “It will have a $5 million impact over the 18 days on Bakersfield and Kern County, especially from visitors from outside the area touring the attractions, staying in hotels, eating all of the great food, and participating in the various hockey tournaments throughout Winterfest.”
Teams from all over the western United States will descend upon Condorstown for various youth and adult hockey tournaments organized through Barry Scherer and International Hockey Events (www.internationalhockeyevents.com). The majority of games will take place outdoors at Memorial Stadium, but will also use the SJCH Ice Sports Center, home of the newly minted Bakersfield Jr. Condors program. Sign-up opportunities for both youth and adult tournaments are available through the website, but spots are filling up quickly.
“When we went to the youth hockey program here in Bakersfield with the idea to change the program’s name to the Bakersfield Jr. Condors, this was certainly in mind as a way to show off all age groups and give them an opportunity to play outdoors in California,” Riley said. “It is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of these kids to not only put on the blue and orange Condors colors, but to play outside, on the same ice that the Condors and Reign will play on and envision themselves one day playing for the pro Condors.”
In addition to the youth and adult hockey tournaments taking place, Winterfest will feature a 220-ft zip line, public skating, kids areas including snowman building, various music attractions, and food and beverage vendors.
“There is going to be something for everyone,” Riley said. “While families are here watching their kids play in the tournaments or public skating, they can go build a snowman, take a twirl on the zip line, eat local food, grab some hot chocolate, and just enjoy all of the fun.”
There are still two major announcements to be made concerning the Condors/Reign game on January 7, 2017, and the Celebrity/NHL Alumni Game which will be held the night prior at Memorial Stadium.
First, both Condors and Reign will wear specialty jerseys for the game with proceeds from a Condors auction benefiting local charities, providing another way the team is giving back to the community. Condors’ jersey auctions have become a staple of the team’s community endeavors, giving back over $1 million from auctions alone in 18 years.
“There may even be a twist with the jerseys,” Riley hinted. “Fans will just have to wait to see what the next great idea is for this game to make it truly one-of-a-kind.”
Also, the Celebrity/NHL Alumni Game figures to be another must-see event with tickets tied into the Condors Outdoor Classic.
“People are going to be very happy with the roster we roll out for this game,” Riley said. “You’re going to have some big celebrity names, some big names in the hockey world from the Oilers and Kings, and local celebrities which is going to be awesome. We’re looking forward to that game kicking off the weekend prior to the Outdoor Classic.”
Tickets are available currently thru the Condors website, www.bakersfieldcondors.com, via the “Funnest 3-Pack” which includes tickets to the team’s Teddy Bear Toss and $5 Youth Jersey Frenzy in February. Single-game tickets will go on sale at the end of November.