The last active major venue from the Golden Age of wrestling and boxing in Southern California may soon be gone. The Bakersfield Californian’s John Cox is reporting that The Bakersfield Dome will soon be sold and demolished as part of an expansion of a nearby immigration detention facility.
Per the Bakersfield Californian, Chencho Madera, who purchased the venue in the early 2000s, was persuaded to sell the venue due to declining attendance and the mounting need for repairs. Madera confirmed to the paper that the buyer is GEO Group Inc., a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private operator of detention center and mental health facilities, though the company did not confirm the purchase. GEO Group Inc. owns Mesa Verde, an immigration detention facility contracted with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is located one building away from The Dome. The Bakersfield California is also reporting that GEO Group is also purchasing the El Morocco Motel which is located between The Dome and Mesa Verde, though neither the motel nor GEO Group confirmed that.
Bakersfield Development Services Director, Jacqui Kitchen, confirmed to the paper that real estate agents have contacted her office in regards to The Dome, but could not confirm if any were representing GEO. Kitchen also advised if the building is purchased to be used as part of Mesa Verde, the new owners would have to apply for an amended conditional use permit. She also confirmed if the building is to be demolished, its historic status might have to be addressed.
Since opening on January 8, 1941 as Strelich Stadium (also known as Strongbow Stadium from 1976 until the early 2000s), the venue had been the epicenter of professional wrestling and boxing in Kern County until the early 1980s, and has continued to host independent wrestling events on and off until the present. Vendetta Pro Wrestling has their Summer Sizzle event scheduled to take place at The Dome on July 22, and it is being billed as the “final professional wrestling event at The Dome.” The event will have free admission and has a scheduled bell time of 6:00 p.m.