Fresno Grizzlies Hope Astros Affiliation Boosts Fan Interest
The Fresno Grizzlies will open their 2015 season tonight at Chuckchansi Park. But for the first time in 18 years, the AAA team won’t be stocked with players from Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. FM89’s Jason Scott reports that team owners hope the new affiliation with the Houston Astros will mark a reboot for the club and its fan base.
When the Fresno Grizzlies take the field tonight for the opening day fans will witness a team with a new look.
During the offseason the San Francisco Giants, who were affiliated with the Grizzlies for the last 18 years, announced they were severing ties with the AAA club, and moved their affiliation to Sacramento.
The new Major League affiliate of the Grizzlies is the Houston Astros. The switch angered many longtime Grizzlies and Giants fans, but supporter Shawn McCullough says he’s looking forward to the team’s new era.
McCullough: "It's something different, other than the same old stuff that was going on year after year with the Giants. There's a lot of people like me who weren't Giants fan who are going to come out. They did a real good job marketing everything. I think there's going to be a lot more fans coming out this year than there were last year."
Officials say the team has shifted its marketing message to focus more on Fresno and the Central Valley. In past years, many team promotions were tied to the connection with the Giants.
Ryan Young is the director of communications for the Grizzlies. He says the club’s new intense marketing campaign has helped draw more excitement for these new look Grizzlies.
Young: "We've heard that sentiment, 'hey, you know it's the Astros, why am I going to care about that?' And we tell people, you know, it's a Fresno team, without the interest here with AAA baseball, the team could wind up going away."
Young says the team also hopes to perform better on the field. In 18 years as an affiliate of the Giants, the Grizzlies only went to the playoffs once. Many baseball experts say the Astros have one of the top Minor League farm systems in baseball.