The national chain jumped in on the fun Thursday night when it offered free tacos to everyone in Fresno if the Grizzlies permanently changed their name to the Fresno Tacos. The team re-branded itself for Thursday’s game as part of the taco truck event that attracted a standing-room-only crowd of 16,916 to downtown’s Chukchansi Park.
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As part of the event, Grizzlies players sported specially designed jerseys and hats with brightly colored tacos. Word of the wacky promotion spread quickly, with mentions on ESPN’s “Sports Center,” MLB Network, VICE Sports, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and TMZ Sports.
Taco Bell took notice, too. Fresno Grizzlies management responded on Twitter to Taco Bell, asking for some clarification on the offer: “...Hard shell or soft shell?”
To which Taco Bell replied, “Decisions are hard. So let’s go with crunchy.”
Grizzlies management were giddy at the promotion’s response.
“We have been working on this for nine months, but we were also very surprised as to how far this reached, including getting the attention of Taco Bell,” said Ryan Young, media relations coordinator for the Grizzlies.
Grizzlies fans also took to Twitter to show their love of tacos and Taco Bell. Christopher Rocha, @vintage_Fresno, had just one word for Taco Bell’s offer: “Yeeeees!!!!!!”
Rocha said he is a big fan of Taco Bell, Fresno and the Grizzlies.
“So many places are known for their signature dishes, and Fresno has the best tacos of anywhere I've ever been,” Rocha said. “Fresnans should be proud of our city, and what makes us special.”
Grizzlies general manager Derek Franks said the promotion went so well that the team will continue to use the Tacos uniform for its remaining Thursday home games on Aug. 20 and Sept. 3.
As for Taco Bell’s offer, Franks is mulling it over.
“We love the attention we are getting and even more for the city of Fresno,” Franks said. “And in the words of Reid Ryan (president of the Grizzlies’ major-league parent club, the Houston Astros), you never say never in the game of baseball.”