The Fresno Grizzlies ended their season Monday with a 9-6 win over Tacoma. Still, a late-season swoon kept the team out of playoff contention.

But in the stands, the Grizzlies were winners from start to finish. Michael Gutierrez not only loves the grizzlies, he relies on them.

"This is an outlet for me...come out... relax... enjoy a ballgame... get my mind off all my pressures and all the stuff we face all year."

But last year Michael and other baseball fans like him nearly lost their beloved grizzlies. Financially, the owners of the team were facing long odds and were ready to call it quits.

A complicated off-season deal with the city provided the team with subsidies, up to $500,000 worth, at taxpayer expense to keep the team in Chukchanci Park.

"We're moving in the right direction..."

General Manager Andrew Stuebner says this year's attendance will be slightly above the 480,000 fans the team attracted a year ago.

"You now, creating promotions where, you know, our Monday Madness package... or Thirsty Thursdays is a huge hit... those types of deals...the Buster Posey bobbleheads... those things that we do... I think people see the value in that."

The team still pays its monthly rent -- on time -- to play here. The half a million in city dollars is used to pay the team's operational expenses, money well-spent according to fans like Janel Davis.

"And even though there's been a lot of controversy about the team being here and what taxpayers financed, I think it's great for Downtown."

"Go Grizzlies... final game...yoo...hoo..."

This was just the final game of the year, not the final game ever, and many more to come so long as the turnstiles keep turning.

"We're in good shape...we're not going anywhere."

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fresno downtown, fresno grizzlies, fresno county, sports
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