Welcome to Chukchansi Park, also known as Growlifornia. This spacious facility in downtown Fresno is home to the Colorado Rockies’ Stars of Tomorrow. The beer is cold, the tacos are plentiful, and the mascot is an ordained minister. A little something for everyone.
Fresno Grizzly (Colorado Rockies Low-A Affiliate since 2021)
Established: 1998 (in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League)
League: Bas-A West
Baseball Stadium: Chukchansi Park (opened in 2002)
Alumni: Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Alex Bregman, Tim Lincecum, Carlos Correa
Professional baseball in Fresno goes back a long way, as the city of central California sporadically fielded teams from 1898 to 1914. The harvest of clubs from this era included both the Raisin Eaters of 1905 and the Raisin Growers of 1909, a nod to the importance of agriculture in the region. Fresno fielded a team in the California League from 1942 to 1988. In 1998, after a ten-year absence, Minor League Baseball returned in the fierce form of the Fresno Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies, members of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League until 2020, played their first four seasons at Pete Beiden Field in Fresno State. In 2002, they moved to their current home in Chukchansi Park, located in downtown Fresno.
The Grizzlies were affiliated with the San Francisco Giants from their inception in 1998 until 2014. This was followed by four years with the Houston Astros and two with the Washington Nationals. These affiliate changes were a remarkable accomplishment, as the Grizzlies were the AAA affiliate of three World Series winning organizations in just six seasons (San Francisco 2014, Houston 2017 and Washington 2019).
The Grizzlies moved to the Low-A West League in 2021, as part of a larger Minor League Baseball reorganization. The other seven teams on the circuit were from the California League, of which Fresno was once a part.
1800 Tulare Street
Capacity: around 10,500
Dimensions: left field, 324 feet; central field, 402 feet; right field, 335 feet
The Grizzlies are a Low-A team playing in a stadium built in the early 2000s for a Triple-A club. This set of circumstances can be summed up in a simple descriptive sentence: Chukchansi Park is fat. It’s one of the few Minor League stadiums that can claim a bona fide top deck, with second tier seats stretching from third base to the right field foul post. More than 15,000 fans filled the stadium for an exhibition game against the Giants in 2008, but a 2019 renovation project reduced the capacity to around 10,500.
Chukchansi Park has a 360 degree hall with wide walkways, providing plenty of room to move around. The aforementioned 2019 renovation project resulted in a slew of new fan equipment, favoring corporate space over fixed seating.
The Fresno Social, in left field, is a full-service bar open to all fans during the game. A small seating area on the berm in the center-left field is located directly in front of a group area with a swimming pool. The good Splash Park pitch is for young fans, who may want to bring their swimsuits. Behind Splash Park is what is perhaps the best-named concession stand in Minor League Baseball: the Oppo Taco.
At Chukchansi Park, tacos are king. The Grizzlies’ celebration of this locally spread article started in earnest in 2011, when they hosted their first Taco Truck Throwdown. The success of the event, which features taco trucks from all over the Central Valley, has led the Grizzlies to unveil another team identity “Tacos” and they now play as such every Tuesday. In addition to the Oppo Taco booth in left field, a taco truck can often be found parked in the lobby.
Another locally famous item is the three point sandwich. The Grizzlies’ interpretation can be found at the Uncle Bear BQ booth located in the lobby behind the home plate.
Parker T. Bear is an abnormal member of the species, having a yellow coat, a green mouth and a blue nose. A self-proclaimed “fat-bellied dance machine”, Parker has long been one of the minor league’s most active and ambitious mascots. To know: in 2016, Parker was ordained minister of the Church for universal life in order to be able to wedding ceremony officer during the team’s âMy Big Fat Fresno Wedding Showâ promotion. Now it’s commitment.
The Fresno Tower District is anchored in the establishment that gave it its name, the Tower Theater for the Performing Arts. The neighborhood, located north of Chukchansi Park, is one of the city’s best bets when it comes to the combination of nightlife, entertainment, shopping, and interesting architecture. One of Fresno’s most unique tourist destinations is the Underground gardens of La ForestiÃ¨re, an open-air underground complex created room by room and room by room over 40 years. You do not have to travel far from Fresno to participate in outdoor activities. Hiking trails and water bodies abound.
Food and drink
In Fresno, don’t limit your taco experiences to the ballpark. Taquerias are plentiful throughout the city and region, featuring a variety of regional styles. Ask local residents for their recommendations or interview Grizzlies staff members during a game. This information is especially useful when it comes to taco trucks, which are often located in unassuming places. Lots of trucks run late into the night, providing unprecedented post-game snacking opportunities.
The Elegant, located near Chukchansi Park and one of Fresno’s most famous taquerias, is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily. Start there and then consider other beloved establishments such as El Premio mayor, Mexican and, well, the list is constantly evolving and essentially endless. Don’t arrive in Fresno on a full stomach.
The downtown location of Chukchansi Park is close to many hotels, some of which are within walking distance. An escape from the city is also easy to achieve. Throughout Fresno County, one can find bed and breakfasts, ranches, cabins and campgrounds.
The Grizzlies’ closest minor league team is Visalia Rawhide, located about 43 miles to the southeast. These two teams make up what is essentially the center of the California League. The Rancho Cucamonga, Inland Empire 66ers, and Lake Elsinore Storm earthquakes are located further south, while the San Jose Giants, Modesto Nuts, and Stockton Ports are to the north. In short: A road trip that includes the entirety of the California League would take a lot of driving, but it is doable. Advised, even.
The Grizzlies are the starting point for players in a sprawling Rocky Mountain farming system that also includes teams in Washington, Connecticut and New Mexico.
Bottom-A: Fresno Grizzly
Top-A: Spokane Indians
Double A: Hartford Court Goats
Triple A: Albuquerque Isotopes