It’s no secret that Grizzlies managing general partner Chris Cummings and his ownership group have had the team on the market for several years, absorbing annual losses in the process. But the Chukchansi Park annual rent of $750,000 has been a deterrent to any deal closing, as potential buyers have sought to have the city either lower the rent or assume some of the ballpark maintenance costs. The city, on the hook for $3 million in annual debt service payments, has declined to make any changes in the lease.
Until now, as it appears that a deal to shift some maintenance costs to the city as part of a sale is close to a done deal, we are told by insiders familiar with the terms of a sale. The Rockies have been working to strengthen its farm system via ownership and investment, but in this case Colorado would not directly invest in the team. Other MLB teams are working on farm-system upgrades: it appears the Milwaukee Brewers are looking at purchasing a controlling interest in the Carolina Mudcats to ensure the MLB team will have a Carolina League franchise on an ongoing basis, and both the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have invested in Carolina League franchises in 2017.
The good news for anyone buying a team: Fresno attendance appears to be on the rise again in 2017, with an average of 6,558 fans per game over the first 25 games. That’s a hike from 2016’s average attendance of 6,189 fans per game. The team has embarked on an aggressive promo schedule that saw the Grizzlies win the 2016 Ballpark Digest Award for best promotion: My Big Fat Fresno Wedding Show.