Condors Provide Fun Nights For Families

By Louis Medina
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian

A member of the next generation of Condors fans is developing inside the womb of 27-year-old Bakersfield resident Tabitha Chadd — a fan herself, along with the rest of her family.

It’s possible that he — yes, it’s a boy — kicked if he was able to sense through his mother’s belly the rattling of cowbells and the shouts from the more than 4,800 other fans who attended the Oct. 24 game against the Alaska Aces.

The Condors lost that night and the disappointment was probably also lost on the little one, who’ll have plenty of time to learn about winning and losing when he finally makes it out into the world.

After he has grown a bit, his parents might choose to buy him a $15 “Born to be a Condors fan” onesie jumper at the gift shop inside the Rabobank Arena.

Once he has learned to speak, he could, like his uncle, Kaleb Wickham, 4, also say, “Let’s go Condors,” when prompted to do so by an adult itching to hear some cuteness.

Condor families

Yes, the Condor tradition is a family affair in Bakersfield and plenty of kids attend, including those who are still safer held on an adult’s lap than seated in a chair.

“They get restless sometimes,” Chadd said. “Sometimes they need to get up during the intermission to go to the bathroom.”

But manageable 20-minute periods — set off by intermissions that are just as long and filled with multimedia presentations that include music, flashy graphics on digital screens, and the chance to be a star when you’re caught dancing in a predictable candid camera moment — appear to keep even the littlest ones entertained.

Why Condors parents work

Like any family outing, a night at the hockey game costs money.

Chadd and her little brother attended the Aces game together with her cousin, Nicole Noonan, 23, and Noonan’s daughter, Quinn Anderson, 2.

The cousins spent the following that night:

• $76 for four tickets at $19 each (the cousins split the cost)

• $16 on food and drinks for Noonan and her daughter

• $18 on food and drinks for Chadd and her brother

(Food and drinks included hot dogs, nachos and sodas)

• $2 for a $1 “chuck-a-puck” for each of the children. (A chuck-a-puck is an orange foam puck that is used in a game during the second intermission: Members of the audience throw their chuck-a-pucks into the center of the ice rink, aiming for a helmet to try to get a prize.)

The cousins spent $112 between them that night. As usual, they parked on the street so they wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Plus, they always feel safe walking to their car among the crowds after a game.

Chadd and Noonan sometimes go to games with their husbands, who were both at work this particular night.

At one time, Chadd said, “We used to come to every game. We used to have season tickets.”

According to BakersfieldCondors.com, full-season tickets currently range from $285 to $932 per person, and offer such perks as discounts on merchandise purchases, complimentary “Bring a Friend” vouchers, half-off discounts for groups on certain game days and more.

Matt Kato, Condors merchandise and team services manager, said there are other plans, for example, for all-weekend games, all-Saturday games and other combinations.

For children, there is the Condor Kids Club. For $25, children 12 and under get a T-shirt, tickets to six games between Nov. 18, and March 28, the free use of a play zone throughout the season, special discount passes for additional family members like siblings and accompanying adults, and a chance to meet the players.

Father-and-son bonding

Harold Beletzuy, 28, also had $19 Aces game seats for himself and his son, 5-year-old Victor.

Beletzuy says he only attends about three games each season. The sanitation engineer has to get up early to tend to the garbage pickup needs of Oildale and Bakersfield’s northwest.

He and his son actually left the arena early, after the second period, for that reason and because it was a school night for Victor. The soft-spoken boy said “when they fight” is what he likes best about the game.

“It does worry me a little bit,” Beletzuy said, “but it’s a sport and I explain to him that it’s only a sport.”

He said he bought his son a soft drink ($3) and popcorn ($3.25), but noted the popcorn was burned.

“It’s cheaper than going to the movies,” Steve Frolio, 44, a friend who was sitting near them, said about the food. He added, “The good thing about watching a hockey game than a movie is you get to watch real violence.”

A rinkside date

Bao Nguyen, 18, was treating his girlfriend, Brianna Stuck, also 18, to the game. He agrees with Frolio that hockey is more exciting than the movies but says it is more expensive.

That night, after buying two $19 tickets and snacks that included some Condor dogs ($6 each), sodas ($3.75 each for a large) and pretzels ($2.75 each), he had spent between $60 and $80, he said.

He wasn’t keeping a very close tab: “I always pay,” he said.

The couple — both attend San Joaquin Valley College — have been together for three years, they said.

Stuck, who was born and raised in Bakersfield and has been going to Condors games with family and friends for as long as she can remember, turned her boyfriend onto hockey soon after they started dating.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s something you can do as a family and all enjoy it.”