The Fresno City Council has unanimously 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 current owners, Fresno Baseball Club LLC, owe the city around $3 million dollars in back rent and deferred payments. Councilmember Steve Brandau says the re-negotiated deal is key to ensuring the city has a rent paying tenant for the $50 million facility.
"If we did not execute a contract or enter into a negotiation, the City of Fresno could find itself owning a baseball team. And I think that would be really detrimental, full of a lot of its own problems, where we'd be out trying to run a baseball team, with everything else that we're trying to accomplish in the city. That's not a door that I want to go through," says Brandau.
City Manager Bruce Rudd says if all goes well, the city could issue a call for bids from concert promoters to stage events in the stadium on days it’s not being used by the Grizzlies. The team’s current owners have been trying to sell the team for several years.
George Hostetter of the Central Valley Observer has been following the story and joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the deal, what it means for the city's general fund and the potential new owners.