Written by Edward Smith
A statement coming from Fresno Foxes leadership says the soccer club will “almost certainly be relocating.”
Fresno FC owner Ray Beshoff released a statement today explaining the difficulties in financing the team without a stadium to call home.
“Having a home venue is the foundation on which a sustainable professional sports organization is built. It is the epicenter of a club’s strength and support,” Beshoff said in the statement. “And from day one we knew that Chukchansi Park could only sustain our club in the short term.”
The news comes as the club, in its sophomore year, made it to the quarterfinals of the USL Championship Playoffs before falling 3-2 to El Paso at a Saturday home game in Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno — likely the last ever.
The cost to merely take down the pitcher’s mound at the baseball stadium cost $10,000 a game, Beshoff said in a previous interview with The Business Journal.
It was those costs, along with stagnant attendance, that spurred the decision.
“The expenses associated with converting a baseball field to be adequate for soccer every home game, as well as the lack of revenue from concessions and parking, was always going to make things difficult for us economically,” Beshoff said in the statement.
In addition to the cost, the Fresno FC lost their affiliate, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, after their first season, which head coach Adam Smith said in a previous story had helped with front office and player salary costs.
The City of Fresno and the soccer team had gone back-and-forth in negotiations regarding finding a permanent home for the club.
“My staff and I have met with the Fresno Foxes at least 11 times since January of last year to talk about possible stadium locations. We’ve met with them on-site to look at the possibility of converting Selland Arena to soccer, using the Convention Center parking lot as a soccer stadium, building a stadium at Lot 1 behind Chukchansi Park, the City’s Regional Sports Complex and we also toured a variety of sites around Fresno. We also connected them to private landowners who own land that could work for them” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand in an earlier joint statement with Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias.
Fresno FC had concerns regarding each of those individual sites. They also requested subsidizing rent and usage fees at the baseball stadium.
“I’m also incredibly proud of those of you who have come to the stadium in support of the club over these past few seasons,” Beshoff said in the most recent statement. “We fought to the end, and from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry we could not do better for you. Thank you for your support, always.”