The Grizzlies are coming off a successful season and with their parent club the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series they expect some positive momentum this year. But they're not saying much about the sudden departure of their C.E.O. Richard Fleming. His reasons for leaving are not clear.
The biggest stakeholder in the team and its downtown stadium is the City of Fresno, and so far, there's no apparent concern at City Hall.
Last September the Grizzlies introduced Richard Fleming as the team's new Chief Executive Officer. Fleming came to Fresno from Seattle, where he'd been a consultant for corporate clients. He had no experience in baseball.
His reasons for leaving are not clear. Grizzlies General Partner, Chris Cummings told Action News Fleming was leaving to pursue other interests and added he and co-owner Brian Glover would be running things.
"This really has nothing to do with the stability of the organization or of the team," said Cummings, "Rick is moving on to other things. Brian Glover and I are taking over as CEO's and we are looking forward to a great season."
Since the team came to town the Grizzlies have struggled to pay the rent on the stadium which is now around a million dollars a year, the highest in minor league baseball.
City Manager Mark Scott says the departure of Fleming hasn't raised financial concerns at City Hall. "I think they are pretty close to meeting all of their contract obligations and we're assuming that's moving forward well so we're not concerned there's any problems."
Fleming came to Fresno at the end of the last baseball season, just after the team let go five of its executives in what was described as a corporate restructuring. Cummings told Action News Flemings departure had nothing to do with the corporate structure. Cummings wouldn't go on camera but told us, the Grizzlies were anticipating another good season.
Fresno City Manager Mark Scott says the city is also hopeful. "Right now we're just looking for the next season optimistically. We've had good dialogue with numerous team officials over the off season, seems to us they've got great concepts for working with the community. We're looking forward to another positive year."
The city has to keep hoping things go well for the team. The city's payment on the stadium is $3.5-million a year. The team is paying a chunk of that, but if the team fails, the bill is still due.