Fresno Grizzlies waiting for answers on 2020 Minor League season

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The sports landscape continues to shift amid the coronavirus. The global pandemic is having a ripple effect on our local teams

At this time of year, the Fresno Grizzlies would be a month into their schedule, but without any games played or revenue coming in, officials with the ball club are left to wonder what the future of the team might look like.

"If the worst-case scenario plays out and we don't get to play baseball this year, we'll have looked at perhaps up to 18 months between baseball games if you look at the end of the 2019 season and the start of the 2021 season next April," said team president Derek Franks.

It's a stretch that could really pose significant challenges for any minor league franchise's bottom line.

But according to Franks, only a few season ticket holders have asked for their money back while a majority are taking a wait and see approach

"Most people are wanting to see baseball again and have said they want to hold out and hope for a 2020 shortened season," Franks said. "They have said they're more likely to roll over their season ticket payment or their commitment for 2020 into next year if for some reason we don't play."

Major League Baseball still has not announced what it will do about a 2020 season, but the latest scenario would have games played in empty stadiums.

That proposal that does not work for minor league clubs because of the vast difference in media rights and the money generated at the big league level

"None of us have the luxury from the revenue coming in from television broadcasts," Franks said. "It's a much trickier scenario to look at playing in front of empty stadiums for the minor leagues than it is for our partners at major league."

The Grizzlies employ a full-time staff of about 30 and so far, the club has been able to keep everyone on the payroll while the front office ponders what the future of the team may look like going forward

"We know there's a comeback plan and we're going to play baseball again, so we're able to look ahead but for a lot of teams in the country it's going to have a different set of circumstances," Franks said.

Until Major League Baseball decides on its future, the Grizzlies remain in a holding pattern for the 2020 season.
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