Chukchansi Park image via flickr user YAHQQLIGAN
Written by Gabriel Dillard
The Fresno City Council Monday unanimously passed a measure that would help usher in a new ownership group for the Fresno Grizzlies.
The decision would amend the current lease for the stadium, which would make it easier for potential buyers Ray and Michael Baker and Jim Coufas to close a deal for the team.
The agreement — which would only becomes effective on the closing of a team sale — sets up a capital reserve fund to help cover deferred maintenance on the 15-year-old stadium, estimated at more than $20 million. It also establishes annual rent of $500,000 and mandates the team owner fund 100 community events a year.
It would also keep the group from relocating the team through 2036.
As City Manager Bruce Ruud stated, today’s vote doesn’t necessarily mean a deal is complete. The buyer and seller must first close the deal.
At the deal’s closing, current ownership group Fresno Baseball Club, LLC, would have to pay what it currently owes the city in back rent — about $2 million, according to Ruud.
Potential buyers (and father and son) Ray and Michael Baker are based in Denver, Colorado. Ray Baker is chairman of the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stiadum District, which oversees the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field home. Coufas is based in Southern California.
“This is a group with extensive experience in Colorado,” said Mayor Lee Brand. “I think we’ve done as good as we can possibly do in our due diligence.”
Related story: City lays out terms for sale of Fresno Grizzlies