Fresno Grizzlies behind on lease payments to city

FRESNO, Calif.

Team spokesman Chris Kutz says as the Giants triple A team, the Grizzlies are hoping to capitalize on the Giants World Series win and get more fans in the seats, and they need the money.

Assistant Fresno City Manager Renena Smith says the Grizzlies have some catching up to do. "Right now the Grizzlies owe the city of Fresno about $1.2 million."

That's for last year's lease payments. But the team could get credit for maintenance costs and parking and reduce the amount due to around $800 thousand.

Kutz says the Grizzlies plan to pay, as soon as they get the money. "We are a seasonal business so when we get revenue in, we'll use it to make that payment."

It's a typical problem for the team. Their lease costs are two to four times higher than any other Triple A team in the nation, and they have been losing about a million dollars a year.

The city of Fresno is on the hook for three-and-a-half million in payments for the stadium every year. The city had been using some redevelopment funds to pay part of it. But that's been cut off.

Former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim is a member of the Oversight Board set up by the state to help close the accounts of the redevelopment agencies shut down by the state. "The state has said no to this type of increment funding for these public projects."

So, with the city's dire financial situation and the loss of redevelopment fund they need the Grizzlies more than ever and Smith says they are hoping the team comes through.

Smith said, "We'll see when we get the check."

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