The Bakersfield Blaze most recently changed hands in March of 2012 when local businessmen Gene Voiland and Chad Hathaway purchased the club from Elmore. The two oilmen showed their commitment to Bakersfield by immediately improving Sam Lynn Ballpark with hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations. The Blaze went on to post one of the best seasons in recent history in 2012 both in the stands and on the field, and 2013 showed another massive jump in attendance.
The future looked just as bright, as Voiland and Hathaway rolled out plans for a stunning new ballpark on the west side of Bakersfield. Last week, however, the owners announced that the stadium plan was not to be, as Voiland and Hathaway were able to raise roughly 60% of the necessary private funds needed to build the yard.
“I had every hope that Gene and Chad would build a great new ballpark for the Bakersfield community,” Elmore noted. “Since they were unable to complete that ballpark project and chose not to pay a loan that was due to me for the purchase of the team, I have decided to move back into control of this storied franchise in a tremendous city, and I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds.”
General Manager Elizabeth Martin has been with the club since October, 2010, and has helped oversee both ballclub operations and ownership transitions. Along with her staff, Martin has orchestrated the turnaround at Sam Lynn Ballpark with cleaner facilities, increased promotions, a fan-friendly environment and knowledgeable employees. “Working with D.G. Elmore in 2011 was easy and enjoyable,” said Martin, of her first owner in Bakersfield. “Gene Voiland and Chad Hathaway have been fabulous mentors in business, as well, and the community should take solace that the team is in extremely capable hands, regardless of what the ‘Ownership’ page on the website reads. Everything that the city has grown to love about the organization over the last two to three years will stay exactly the same, and we will continue to add going forward.”
The team will continue to play at the remodeled Sam Lynn Ballpark, with Opening Day of the 2014 season scheduled for Thursday, April 3.