On the eve of its reopening, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on Wednesday paid the Fresno Grizzlies half of its $1 million commitment as naming-rights holder of the Triple-A club’s downtown stadium.
The annual fee was due in September. But the Grizzlies ownership group – Fresno Baseball Club LLC – fronted the money in anticipation of the casino eventually reopening after it shut down in October 2014 over federal audit problems and internal tribal disputes.
Chukchansi and the Grizzlies agreed the $1 million would be paid in two installments – with $500,000 clearing Wednesday evening. The second payment is expected sometime in 2016.
Chukchansi Park provides a lot of value to the community and has been a good tool for marketing ourselves.
Christian Goode, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino chief operating officer
“Chukchansi Park provides a lot of value to the community and has been a good tool for marketing ourselves,” said Christian Goode, the resort’s chief operating officer. “It was a priority to make our annual payment to the Grizzlies because we want to be good partners again.
“Our partnership with the Grizzlies is unique and extremely valuable to everybody.”
Chukchansi Gold Resort has been the naming-rights holder since signing a 15-year agreement in 2006. The venue was initially known as Grizzlies Stadium.
85 percent Portion of Fresno Grizzlies revenue that typically comes during the baseball season; a $1 million stadium naming-rights deal with Chuckhansi Casino helps ease budgetary pressures during the offseason
The Grizzlies use the $1 million to cover expenses and salaries during the offseason, when the minor league franchise’s revenue declines. The Grizzlies generate about 85 percent of their revenue during the baseball season, team General Manager Derek Franks said.
The casino’s closure created some uncertainty over whether the tribe could afford to continue the naming-rights agreement.
The Grizzlies front office, however, regularly praised the partnership and expressed confidence the casino would honor its commitment upon reopening, now set for 10 a.m. Thursday.
“They’ve been committed to us, helped us in the past,” Franks said. “We wanted to be good partners, too, and give them the time they need.”
The Grizzlies are the defending Triple-A national and Pacific Coast League champions after capturing the titles in their first year as a Houston Astros affiliate. The 2016 season opener is April 7 at Las Vegas, with the 51s visiting Fresno for the April 15 home opener at Chukchansi Park.
“The reopening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino will be a welcome gift to all who are associated with the casino,” Grizzlies managing general partner Chris Cummings said in a news release. “The receipt of the naming-rights payment will be icing on the cake for our baseball club.”