Leading up to its inaugural season, Fresno Football Club is planning for how to stage matches as its new home, Chukchansi Park.
Announced earlier this year as a USL expansion entry for 2018, Fresno FC is slated to play its games at Chukchansi Park, the downtown Fresno facility that opened in 2002 for baseball’s Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast league). The arrangement of a professional soccer team at a Minor League Baseball facility is not at all uncommon–especially in the USL—and Chukchansi Park has years of experience hosting the Premier Development League’s Fresno Fuego.
Fresno FC, however, is in the process of planning some steps that it will take to shape the soccer experience at Chukchansi Park. As general manager Frank Yallop recently explained, this covers a variety of elements, including the layout of the pitch and the number of tickets the club will sell for most matches. More from The Fresno Bee:
The new club will play on a field aligned in the same direction as when Liga MX clubs play there, with the baseball mound removed. Except the actual pitch will be larger (110 yards by 72 yards), closer and run more parallel to the lower deck than what’s been previously done.
“The big thing was making sure someone who buys a ticket to the game is going to have a great view,” Yallop says. “There’s nothing worse than going to a soccer game at a baseball stadium and the field’s in the middle of the outfield. It’s too far away.”
While Chukchansi Park seats 12,500 for baseball and has drawn more than 16,000 for Mexican futbol clubs, Yallop would prefer no one has a bad seat. By not selling tickets in sections that aren’t great for soccer, capacity will be set at 8,400 unless there’s overflow.
Three expansion clubs confirmed for the 2018 USL season are slated to play at MiLB facilities. Along with Fresno FC, the additions to the league include Las Vegas Lights FC, a club that will play at Cashman Field, home to the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Nashville SC will play home matches First Tennessee Park, a facility that opened for the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in 2015.