Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Chukchansi Park, Fresno, California

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
YAHQQLIGAN under CC-BY license

Chukchansi Park is the home of the Fresno Grizzlies, the AAA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Opened in 2002, it’s a downtown park designed by HOK Architects, the same firm that designed such major league parks as Camden Yards in Baltimore. The name comes from a nearby Indian tribe who bought the naming rights to promote their casino.

Usually a contender, this year the Grizzlies are dead last, 8 games behind the Tucson Padres.

Here are the stats…

Year opened: 2002
Surface: Grass
Construction cost: $46 million
Capacity: 12,500
Field dimensions: Left field – 324 ft.; Center field – 402 ft.; Right field – 335 ft.
Home teams: Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League, AAA) 2002 –present; Fresno Fuego (USL Premiere Development League – soccer) 2007-present
Events attended: one game

This is one of those minor league parks that looks almost like a major league park. Sitting just west of Fresno’s downtown, it’s probably the best looking structure around. It has a great view of downtown but mostly of the buildings backsides.

The seating bowl consists of two decks, with another level of suites above that. On the first base side, the upper deck is a club with private seating. The park entrances come into the concourse level at the top of the field deck. This is where you’ll find most of the wheelchair accessible seating. There is also accessible seating in the upper deck and in the cheap seats in left field. Ticket prices run from $8 to $24. You will pay a couple of dollars more if you buy at the game. The best wheelchair seats, right behind home plate, are the $17 or $19 (depending on if you buy them in advance) dollar tickets. You can also sit in that private section along the first baseline in the upper deck for $40, $50 on premium nights.

If you have a large group, there’s a pool and spa area you can rent out in center field starting at $35-40 per person (it also includes your food). There is also a plaza behind home plate that features a carousel for kids.

We had no problem just walking up to the ticket window and purchasing three tickets (one wheelchair, two companions) directly behind home plate for the Independence Day game with post game fireworks.

There are no bad seats here and the game views are excellent. Food choices are mostly the regular ballpark fare consisting of hot dogs, pizza, and burgers. Beer selection is rather pedestrian too with the most premium brew on tap being Tecate, but it is not expensive.

Very limited accessible bus service is provided by Fresno Area Express (FAX) with the downtown circulator trolley, which stops running at around game time, and the 38 bus, which runs late enough on weeknights but not on weekends. There are vast parking lots across the street on the third base side.

A good, competent ballpark…not a gem…but definitely a fun place to watch a ball game.

Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick
Updated for 2013

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