Money woes continue for Fresno Grizzlies, audit shows

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For the ninth straight year, The Grizzlies have been operating at a deficit in its short 14-year stay at Chukchansi Park. (KFSN)

The latest audit report for the Fresno Grizzlies is out and it's bad news again for the local minor league team.

For the ninth straight year, The Grizzlies have been operating at a deficit in its short 14-year stay at Chukchansi Park.

The Grizzlies already have legions of diehard fans including season ticket holder Louis Furtado.

"Here it's wonderful," he said. "We've got the best facilities."

While their loyalty is unwavering, the team's finances are a lot shakier.

"Our club, unfortunately, has operated at a loss as far back as this ownership group has owned it and even prior to that," general manager Derek Franks said.

A 2015 audit report shows the owners of the Fresno baseball club are operating at a $1.3 million deficit.

It's been the same story for the past several years.

The general manager the problem is getting fans to come.

"The name of the game for us is getting more people into the ballpark and getting people more frequently," Franks said.

City leaders say there is little they can do to help.

Back in 2009, council member Lee Brand already renegotiated the Grizzlies' lease and cut the annual $1.5 million rent payment by half.

"So, it's up to them to make it work," Brand said. "I think based on baseball experts I've talked to, there is that capability."

The team currently owes about $1 million debt to the city, but its general manager says he's not giving up.

He's hoping last year's national championship and new marketing strategies will help them break even this year.

"Outliving some challenging contracts and some circumstances are certainly some of the upsides for the future of our ballclub," Franks said.

So, the empty stands will be filled with more enthusiastic fans who love the Grizzlies as much as one diehard fan.

"You can't throw them out now, come on, give us a break, get this crowd built up," Furtado said.
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