Consultant Looks at Grizzlies Lease

August 24, 2009 8:29:24 PM PDT
City leaders spent their day in closed door meetings with a consultant hired to look at the city's lease agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are asking for a million dollar rent reduction at Chukchansi Park and more than half of that amount would come from taxpayers."We've got a lot of homework to do, we've got to make sure that we've got the best deal possible for the taxpayers and also be realistic about what we can expect in this market," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Grizzlies ownership has asked for a one million dollar rent reduction, from $1.5 million a year to $500,000. About $400,000 would come back to the city through ticket fees, leaving about $600,000 dollars coming from the city's general fund. Before city leaders agree to any deal, they're looking at the current lease with the help of Barrett Sports Group at a cost of $40,000. "We look at not only the rent, but how the revenues are allocated between the team and the city, how expenses are handled, how capital improvements are handled, and how the building was financed as well," said Dan Barrett.

Barrett said his firm will compare the Grizzlies' lease with other like-size teams and markets. There won't be any proposal in front of council members until at least next month.

With or without the Grizzlies, taxpayers will be on the hook for $3.5 million bond payment for the stadium. The hope is there will be a team to fill it. "I'm confident the process we're undergoing is going to produce the answers. That's not to say whether it's the baseball club or another team or ownership group, I think that's unclear at this point, but we're all invested in finding a way to keep baseball in town that makes sense for taxpayers," said Swearengin.

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