Baseball is back for the Fresno Grizzlies with new features at Chukchansi Park

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Baseball season is in full swing in downtown Fresno. Friday marks opening night for the Fresno Grizzlies.

It's the team's 20th season at Chukchansi Park.

The Grizzlies promise plenty of memorable moments at the stadium this year.

Opening night will feature fireworks, a magnet schedule giveaway, and fans' first chance to see new renovations at the ballpark.

"We're really thrilled with the City of Fresno to have completed about $2.3 million worth of improvements to Chukchansi Park," he said.

Most visible -- a 2,000 square foot video board in centerfield.

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"Going to really take the fan experience to the next level," Franks said.

You'll also hear a difference with more than 100 new speakers to give fans a surround sound experience, and new color-changing LED lights will highlight the action.

"These lights are a lot bigger, they look a lot different from years past," Fresno Grizzlies Media Relations Coordinator Stephen Rice said.

Rice says the lights will not only give fans a brighter viewing experience but a more exciting one.

It'll be more energy efficient for both the city and the ballpark - a ballpark that's also welcoming some Valley-grown players.

"So one of the first guys is outfielder EJ Andrews Jr.," Rice said.

The former Bulldog makes his return to Fresno after getting drafted by the Rockies in last year's draft.

"Nice to see the Fresno across my chest again -- different logo but really good feeling still," he said.

Also in that draft class -- Merced's own Braiden Ward.

"I'm looking forward to winning in front of the great city of Fresno," he said.

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With opening night just days away, Fresno Grizzlies President Derek Franks is ready to showcase some renovations at the ballpark.



Bigger bases will also make their debut this season, in an effort to spur more stolen bags and less injuries.

But regardless of upgrades or improvements, Ward is just as excited to get the ball rolling.

"Game under the lights, being hungry non-stop because we're smelling the ballpark food," he said. "I'm just excited to win."

An excitement also shared by Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.

"Really, having baseball downtown is such a mainstay for Fresno," he said.

Dyer says the economic impact of the ballpark will be huge for restaurants and breweries downtown hit hard by the pandemic.

But he's hopeful the community will bounce back under the lights this season.

"The catalyst for all of that is our Grizzlies," he said.

Gates open at 5:35 pm. They encourage fans to be in their seats for the pregame festivities.

Tickets are available at FresnoGrizzlies.com.

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