Chukchansi Park – Fresno Grizzlies
Chukchansi Park and Fresno Getting Better
Chukchansi Park (formerly known as Grizzlies Stadium) is host to the PCL (Pacific Coast League) minor league baseball Fresno Grizzlies as well as the USL (United Soccer League) Fresno FC. The Fresno Grizzlies are currently (2018) the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Chukchansi are a Native American Indian tribe in central California, known for their beliefs in and advocating early learning and giving students the tools they need to succeed. This also includes continuing education of their historic culture. The tribe owns and operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino. That casino owns the naming rights to downtown Fresno’s Chukchansi Park.
Food & Beverage 3
Chukchansi Park offers a decent variety of food and beverage choices. Keep in mind, many of the concessions close before the 7th inning.
FlashPoint Grille concessions offer your standard fare: hot dogs, burgers, chicken ($4-$9.50). Snacks range from pretzels, popcorn, fries, peanuts, seeds, etc. Soft drinks are provided by Coca-Cola.
Other stands throughout the concourse include Smokie’s Sausage Shack, Popcorn, Me-n-Ed’s Pizzeria, Parker’s Sweet Tooth, and more.
A great place to visit is the Oppo Taco concession way down the first base line. They provide Tioga-Sequoia local craft brew ($5) and tacos or chorizos ($6-$7). Wine, cocktails, frozen margaritas, and homemade sangria are available at this stand ($7-$10). In front of Oppo Taco, a cushioned seating area and couches are available to sit and relax prior to and during the game.
A recommended choice is a General Sherman IPA ($5 – from the Oppo Taco stand) and a Polish sausage ($8 – from the Smokie’s Sausage Shack). Both stands accept credit and cash.
Chukchansi Park is a good looking stadium and offers all you would expect from minor league baseball.
Three levels of seating are available with suites on the top level.
Like many minor league parks now, the nets go to the end of the dugouts. The nets on the dugout look to be removable (I think because of Fresno FC soccer). Infield seating sections 107/108 and 120/121 have a bit of “net free” baseball as well as sections more toward the outfield.
Bullpens are on the field just beyond first base (home) and third base (away). One can sit in section 122 (home) or 106 (away), low row numbers, and be right smack in front of them.
A remodeled hospitality and fan area planned for the left field corner (under construction at the time of this review in June 2018) will make Chukchansi Park a more modern facility. Three sections are being removed as part of this stadium enhancement.
A manual scoreboard is in right center which is a fabulous idea. The innings’ hits and runs are placed on the manual scoreboard (right center), but the balls and strikes are displayed on the video board in left center. It’s difficult not seeing all of the scoring data in one place. The video board is almost all advertisements; less than ¼ of the space displays current batter stats. It’s not very helpful.
A fan can walk the entire exterior of the ballpark, but not the interior concourse. The interior concourse is remarkably wide with plenty of room to navigate. Starting line ups and PCL standings are clearly posted on a wall on the first base concourse.
Overall music volume and selection is okay though sometimes it is played over the announcers especially during pregame broadcasting.
Between-inning contests are innocent and non-invasive and provide just the right amount of minor league entertainment while giving fans something besides baseball enjoyment.
I would not consider Fresno a vacation destination yet, however the downtown area is in the midst of revitalization and hopefully in a year or two will be a choice place to visit in California.
Places to eat and drink near Chukchansi Park include HoP PK (delicious Mediterranean fare and craft brews), Kocky’s Bar and Grill (sports bar), and Los Panchos (Mexican Restaurant and Cantina). It’s best to go pregame as all these places close early during the week. Local brewery Tioga-Sequoia is just around the block from the ballpark.
Hotels within walking distance are the Radisson Hotel Fresno Conference Center, the DoubleTree by Hilton Conference Center, and about a mile away is the La Quinta Inn Fresno Yosemite.
Except for the ballpark, downtown Fresno shuts down at night. Things to visit during the day include the Veterans Memorial Museum (a half mile from the park), and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo (about three miles from the ballpark). Yosemite National Park is only an hour’s drive and is well worth the visit if in Fresno.
Other sports in Fresno include the Fresno FC (USL soccer) who also play at Chukchansi Park, Fresno State Bulldogs Basketball (Save Mart Center), or the Fresno Monsters (junior ice hockey).
The Grizzlies average attendance has been over 6,000 per game the last few years, putting them in the middle of the pack in attendance in the PCL.
A few diehard fans sit at the top of the section behind home base and often bring banners or posters. The fans do heckle and applaud good (and bad) plays and calls. And, the ones in attendance are quite supportive of the team.
Due to the low attendance, it’s incredibly easy to get in and out of the area as well as find parking. Five dollar cash lots are around the park. Or if staying downtown, it’s just a couple blocks walk. One should not feel threatened or in harm walking to and from the stadium, but do be aware of your surroundings.
Fresno has an extensive bus system called FAX (Fresno Area Express). Route 38 has a stop right at the ballpark.
The closest (and a very nice) airport is Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) and is about a 12 – 15 min drive to the ballpark. An AmTrak station is also within walking distance (1/2 mile) to downtown and the ballpark.
Once in the stadium, the concourses are wide open and easy to navigate. Restrooms are sufficient and serve their purpose. Handicapped access is easy from any of the entrances and there are plenty of accessible seating choices.
Return on Investment 3
Ticket prices run from $10-$50 (a few dollars more for premium nights). A recommendation is buy the cheap seats then sit anywhere you want as the venue does not sell out often. Just move to another seat if those ticket holders show up.
The Grizzlies do offer daily specials such as Taco Tuesdays (2 for 1 tickets, $2 tacos, churros, and soda), or Thursday Happy Hour (burger, fries, and 12 ounce beer or soda for just $5 from when gates open to first pitch) and the like.
Plenty of promotions occur throughout the season and can include fireworks, Christian fellowship night, Bark in the Park, senior day, heritage night, and so on. Check the team’s website for all the specials and promotions.
If watching the ball game is the main purpose for a visit to Chukchansi Park, this is actually quite a perfect minor league baseball experience.
Be sure to get roster and game notes from the customer service stand.
Five dollar beers at a sporting event (and that includes local craft brews) is worth an extra mention.
Attempts at revitalizing downtown Fresno and upgrading Chukchansi Park to include a new hospitality area/gathering place indicate the city and the team owner are trying to improve the downtown location and the Grizzlies game day experience.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going to Fresno; would I be safe, would I enjoy the game? The previous Stadium Journey review of Chukchansi Park was not flattering.
Turns out, both the city and the team have (and are) revitalizing the neighborhood streets and buildings, parks and art, and the baseball stadium. They are looking to create a nighttime entertainment district so that people can eat, drink, dance, have fun, and enjoy a ballgame.
It’ll be worth a return visit in a year or two to see how they’ve progressed.
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Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Fresno Convention Center
2233 Ventura St
Fresno, CA 93721
Radisson Hotel Fresno Conference Center
1055 Van Ness Ave
Fresno, CA 93721
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The present incarnation of Fresno baseball is in the form of the Grizzlies, the AAA affiliate of the Giants in the Pacific Coast League. The team moved to Fresno in 1998 from Tucson and Chukchansi Park was built in 2002. The park is named for a branch of the Yokuts Indian tribe native to the Fresno area. Designed by the same innovative ballpark people that designed Camden Yards and AT&ampT Park (arguably the two best of the new generation major league parks), expectations should be reasonably high for the 12,500 capacity stadium in the heart of downtown Fresno. Unfortunately, something just doesn’t pop about this park and it deservedly ranks far from the best in the minors. By Andy Mantsch, Special Correspondent, July 2014