New Lease Could Clear Way For Grizzlies Sale

Jun 26, 2017 No Comments by

The Fresno City Council has approved a new lease agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team for Chukchansi Park. The move could help clear the way for a new ownership group to take over the team.

The new lease would have the owners pay the city $500,000 a year in rent, compared with roughly $750,000 a year in the current agreement. It also includes a provision requiring both the club and the city to set aside $300,000 a year to pay for repairs and maintenance at the 15-year-old stadium, starting in 2020.

The city commits $3-million, the seller $1-point-25 million and the new owner one million dollars.

The owners of the Grizzlies claim they are close to cutting a deal with Ray Baker and his son Michael. Fresno Mayor Lee Brand has been involved from the beginning. “They’re well respected in the Denver market. It was mentioned by Ray Baker is the chair of the Mile High Coors Stadium Baseball franchise. They have a single A team in Grand Junction.”

Mayor Lee Brand says when he first got involved in 2009, the scoreboard didn’t work for three years because there was no money in reserve to fix it. According to an audit Brand cited, the Grizzlies are losing more than a million dollars a year. “So my job is to not only negotiate the terms but to do the due diligence and make sure these owners have the experience and the financial where-with-all to be successful, never nothing that’s gonna be 100-percent.”

Grizzlies general manager Derek Franks is optimistic. “You’re gonna get to see what a Triple-A ball club can do on sound financial footing. This is a real amenity for the City of Fresno that creates jobs and creates an economic boom that it can and we’ve seen downtown.”

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