To celebrate its centennial, the City of Bakersfield, California, funded and constructed Rabobank Arena, Theater & Convention Center (now Mechanics Bank Arena) – a multipurpose arena to host major concerts, Condor games (Bakersfield's professional ice hockey team), and family entertainment events. The sports facility is a premier mid-market sports and entertainment venue, and an integral part of the city's revitalization plan. The project received the American Public Works Association's "Project of the Year" award in the category of structures over $10 million the year it was completed.
The facility has exceeded revenue expectations since its opening, generating an estimated $20 million in taxable revenue annually. Furthermore, the city received a $136,000 rebate from the local utility company for meeting energy efficiency requirements.
The arena seats up to 9,200 people and has 24 luxury suites. Constructed primarily of cast-in-place and precast concrete, the arena provides excellent sight lines and all the amenities of a facility twice its size. The two-tier bowl design is based around a regulation NHL ice hockey rink with each seat having an unobstructed view of the event floor.
The more-than-200,000 SF arena was one of the first true design-build projects undertaken by the City of Bakersfield. The contract was design-build with a guaranteed maximum price. As a result, the project had an extremely low price compared to a neighboring arena that had recently been built.
PCL Construction and the project’s design/build architect were hired to replace the original contractor when budget difficulties arose. Through a combination of redesigning the structure to allow a cast-in-place/precast concrete solution, self-performing all concrete work, and value engineering mechanical and electrical systems, PCL was able to recover lost time and deliver the project at the Owner’s original budget and schedule. Services included value engineering, constructability, budgeting, estimating, project management, and construction administration.
Aside from the actual construction of the arena, other challenges met included:
- Removal and relocation of a chamber of commerce building
- Negotiation with the railroad for a pedestrian overpass
- Negotiations with several private concessionaires as well as several sports teams
- Leasing of 24 luxury suites
Constructed adjacent to the city's convention center, outfitting this arena involved specialized spaces such as locker and dressing rooms, luxury suites, concessions, and restrooms. What made this project particularly unique was the strict two-year timeline, aiming to coincide with the city’s centennial celebration and the opening game of the West Coast Hockey League.