2018 file photo
Written by Frank Lopez
Fresno officials announced Wednesday that the Fresno Grizzlies will remain a minor league club affiliated with a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
The city announced that the Grizzlies organization accepted a invitation from MLB for a license. The Grizzlies will be the Low Single-A team affiliate for the Colorado Rockies. The move is considered a demotion from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League to the California League.
The license will extend for 10 years.
On Nov. 25, MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a letter to the City of Fresno requesting its consent to accept a team at the Low Single-A level and drop any potential legal challengers or go on without an affiliated team.
“If, however, you inform us by no later than Monday, November 30, that the Grizzlies and Fresno will accept a Single-A affiliation and will agree to release any legal claims they believe they may have against MLB or any of its Clubs concerning the decision not to offer a Triple-A affiliation, we will gladly reconsider,” the letter said.
The deadline was later extended.
The change is taking place due to the MLB taking over the minor league system following the expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which ties Minor League teams to MLB.
This Thursday the Fresno City Council will vote on some changes to the existing lease for Chukchansi Park, home of the Grizzlies.
The new lease includes terms including rent being reduced from $500,000 to $100,000 monthly, having the city pay actual utilities including power, water, sewer and trash up to $300,000, having the team pay $1 per ticket for every ticket over 150,000 turnstile attendance for Fresno Grizzlies baseball games each year and contribute them to the Capital Reserve Fund.
More details were released today during a virtual press conference with Mayor Lee Brand, City Council President Miguel Arias, and City Attorney Douglas Sloan.
Arias said during the meeting that when the stadium was first purchased 20 years ago, the stadium was over priced, over hyped and over built by local officials with no experience in sports but wanted baseball in the city.
If the Grizzlies are once again able to get a Triple-A team in the future, the terms would revert back to the original lease agreement.
To maintain the stadium without a major tenant would cost $3.5 million annually, Brand added.
“I do recognize, as we all recognize, that professional baseball and soccer are an integral part of our revitalization efforts downtown. They are critical to the entertainment district that generates revenues, jobs, and offers a great family amenities for millions,” Arias said.
There is still $30 million that the city owes to pay off the stadium mortgage.
“I’m grateful for the Grizzlies’ ownership, the Fresno City Council and Major League Baseball for their willingness to work together on this. Not only can we keep professional baseball in Fresno, but ensure its stability for years to come,” Brand said.