Fresno community excited for Grizzlies baseball to return

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Baseball is back in downtown Fresno.

Grizzlies players were welcomed back at a sold-out stadium Tuesday night.

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Absence made the heart grow fonder for fans like Viktoria Sundberg, whose family has had season tickets since she was born.

"So it was really different, like not having the Splash Zone, not seeing Parker, not getting the Dippin Dots and that kind of stuff so I'm super excited to be back here and get to experience that with my family again," she said.

Tristen Kelley, another season ticket-holder, said, "This is the best it gets. This is always the best it gets in Fresno and we are just happy to have it back."

The Grizzlies are now a Low-A Colorado Rockies affiliate playing exclusively against fellow California teams.

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A game will be held inside Chukchansi Park for the first time in 617 days.

With Fresno County in the state's orange tier, that means 33% capacity, there were about 3,500 people in the stands.

The home opener against the Visalia Rawhide is the first at Chukchansi park since 2019 - and it was a very different look.

For now, common areas like the splash park, swimming pool and Cantina will remain closed.

Most concession stands were back up and running, with all transactions cashless to start the season.

Spectators were asked to stay masked up, except when actively eating and drinking while in their seats.

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County COVID restrictions limit ticket sales to about one-third of the stadium's 10,800 seat capacity, so a lot of seats will be empty even in a sellout.

But none of that mattered to a lot of fans. They came for the fun and friendship.

"I can be honest, I don't follow baseball," said Annette Phillips. "It was less about who was here and what affiliation that they had. It was more about opportunity with our community. When you come out and you have some seeds and you're just having a good time."

The Grizzlies offered Phillips a refund for a family and friends plan from last year, but she rolled it over instead.

She was just a little too late to get tickets for Opening Day, but she said her family and friends will make it to more than one of the 60 home games.

"To have it in our backyard and it be a very affordable opportunity to have fun, I think you can't beat it," she said. "You can't beat it."

Health care heroes were among the fired-up fans grateful to be back at a Grizzlies ballgame.

"We have been working our butts off and it's really nice to be out here," said healthcare worker Jullia Marino.

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