Fresno Grizzlies

Chukchansi Park got quite a facelift. Here is what’s new at Fresno Grizzlies games

Ready for a new and improved experience at Fresno Grizzlies games?

The Triple-A baseball team’s new ownership invested $3.4 million during the offseason toward improvements at Chukchansi Park, and it’s all ready for public use come Thursday night’s season opener.

The Fresno Sports & Events LLC ownership group, which is in its second season operating the Grizzlies, remodeled the club level, installed a new left field social gathering space/bar, and now will provide a “ state-of-the-art” kids splash park beyond right field.

That’s more fun and new things for just about everyone on all sides of the ballpark.

And still, the Grizzlies will offer tickets beginning as low $10.

“We’re on the verge of the most exciting opening day in franchise history, and I really mean that,” Grizzlies President Derek Franks said in a news release. “It’s not easy to get the feel that everything is new when a franchise is entering its 22nd season, but with the money and sweat we’ve put into the ballpark during this offseason, and launching our new uniquely ‘Growlifornia’ brand, it truly is a new era.

“I think our guests will agree that Chukchansi Park and this ballclub is something for Fresno and the entire Central Valley to be proud of.”

Here’s what to know about the renovations at Chukchansi Park.

Fresno Social

A premium area beyond left field in the works since last season is now complete.

Fans can walk up and sit down at the bar and lounge in the area, which is complete with furniture and drink rails and offers views of the playing surface from the left field/third base side of the ballpark.

It is open to any fan at any time.

There are also six 55-inch HDTVs overhead.

About 1,000 seats were taken out of the left field corner area at Chukchansi Park to make way for Fresno Social, a new walk up bar and lounge area open to any ticket holder. This is part of a $3.4 million capital improvement project by the Fresno Sports & Events LLC ownership group at the park. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

Splash Zone

A 1,500-square foot water park has been placed just beyond the right-field wall, allowing kids to cool off and be plenty entertained.

There is no extra charge to enter The Splash Zone, which is expected to be open during all home games to all fans.

Workers near completion of a 1,500-square-foot water park presented by Community Medical Centers in the right-field corner area at Chukchansi Park. This is part of a $3.4 million capital improvement project by the Fresno Sports & Events LLC ownership group at the park, set for opening day of the 2019 Pacific Coast League season Thursday night against Reno. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

Kodiak Club

The second-level club underwent its first significant upgrade since the park opened in 2002.

And now, the room will includes a new walk-up bar, new tables, chairs and barstools, renovated restrooms, new flooring, several new flat screen TVs and a new all-you-can-eat buffet for each game.

The premium area encompasses the stadium’s main large function room overlooking the first base side of the field (also open to fans holding suite tickets), and the “600 Level” seating accessible only by seasonal Club membership or single-game Club tickets.

The Kodiak Club presented by KY Farming has taken over the second floor club seating area at Chukchansi Park with new tables and chairs, a walk up bar and other renovations. This is part of a $3.4 million capital improvement project by the Fresno Sports & Events LLC ownership group at the park. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

Concession stands

Roughly $200,000 was spent to improve concession areas and food quality, in conjunction with on-site caterer and concessions manager Professional Sports Catering.

Wait times and the lengths of lines are expected to be reduced.

And a new “Uncle Bear B-Q” will open beyond the third base side, offering a brand new smoked BBQ concept.

What else is new?

The manual scoreboard in right-center field received a facelift.

Netting to protect fans from line-drive foul balls along each dugout has been raised for greater protection. (The nets were first installed last year.)

The current lease at Chukchansi Park with Fresno Sports & Events LLC runs through the 2036 season. And the ownership group said making the long-term atmosphere and fan experience during Fresno Grizzlies games is priority number one.

New beginnings

To kick off the franchise’s 22nd season, the Grizzlies will host the Reno Aces for a five-game series. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

A fireworks show will be held after the game Thursday and Friday.

This will be the Grizzlies’ first season operating as the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.

Fresno had been the Triple-A club for the Houston Astros the previous four seasons, and won the Triple-A national championship in 2015.

From 1998-2014, the Grizzlies were part of the San Francisco Giants farm system.

The Grizzlies through the years have fielded a handful of players who’ve gone on to become MLB stars, such as Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman with the Astros, and Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner with the Giants.

Shortstop Carter Kieboom is considered the consensus top prospect throughout the Nationals farm system and could be one of the top Grizzlies players this season.

Bryant-Jon Anteola is a multimedia reporter for The Fresno Bee, writing stories and producing videos about sports, news and random topics relatable to those in the Fresno area. He’s won a McClatchy President’s Award and received honorable mention by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He enjoys sports because of the competition, camaraderie and energy, and views sports as a microcosm of society.