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Bakersfield Memorial Stadium

Bakersfield Memorial Stadium September 1955--photo courtesy Bakersfield College Archives

If you’re wondering why you feel the intense desire to put on a cable-knit sweater, even though it’s not technically sweater-weather here in Bakersfield, it’s because you sense that ever-elusive phenomenon known as “fall” approaching. But fall is a big deal in our town and it always has been...for one reason, in particular. Fall means football—we’re suckers for football. Bakersfieldians love the sound of a crisp snap, the sight of a soaring 60-yard pass, and the smell of victory in the air.

Take Memorial Stadium on the Bakersfield College campus as example of just how much we love our pigskin. When the college was relocating to its present location in 1955, the first thing built was the stadium. In fact, during that first term, students had to gather at the stadium (which was constructed at a cost of $1,161,000) to buy concessions for lunch as the cafeteria wasn’t completed yet. That’s right—we put football over food.

Memorial Stadium has gone on to play host to a number of Bakersfield’s most time-honored traditions and events including the Shriner’s Potato Bowl and the Red, White, and Boom fireworks display, not to mention being featured as one of few locations for a McDonald’s commercial promoting the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It was also the stadium where the Cowboys and the 49ers met to play an NFL charity game called The Children’s Bowl in 1963. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also been the place where young athletes’ dreams have come true. It’s a place where rivalries are both created and put aside for the love of the game.

Still, no other city college team can boast numbers like ours. On numerous occasions, more than 20,000 rabid fans have packed the stands (and the grounds) to watch not only the ‘Gades, but local high school teams trample the grass with passion and fury.

Because when Red and White Fever grips you, it grips you hard. And it doesn’t let go.

Article appeared in our 27-4 Issue - October 2010