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Fresno Investors Acquire Phoenix Triple-A Franchise

May 17, 1996

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ After a four-year search for a Triple-A baseball team, a group of Fresno investors on Friday announced it had signed a contract to buy the Phoenix Firebirds of the Pacific Coast League.

The team will be called the Fresno Grizzlies and should begin play in Fresno in 1998, the same year the major-league Arizona Diamondbacks begin their inaugural season. The Grizzlies would become California’s only Triple-A team.

Architects were consulting with city officials to plan construction of a 15,000-seat downtown stadium to house the Grizzlies, said John Carbray, president of the Fresno Diamond Group.

The investors will pay about $8 million for the Firebirds, the San Francisco Giants’ top farm team.

The sale still must gain majority approval from the owners of the 10-team Pacific Coast League. Transfer of the team also is contingent on approval from the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

Carbray said he expects approval by late summer.

The Grizzlies would be Fresno’s first baseball franchise since the Class A Suns left in 1988. A Class A team affiliated with the Giants moved to San Jose in 1986 after playing in Fresno for four decades.