Carter & Co. Communications, Case Study: Fresno Grizzlies

Fresno Grizzlies

Case Study

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The Problem

Fresno Baseball Club LLC bought the Fresno Grizzlies, the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate since 1998, in 2005. However, the inherited stadium lease with the City of Fresno was unfavorable and threatened to keep the team from being solvent.

While this problem percolated, the city was undergoing significant budget cutbacks. Because of this obstacle, convincing Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the City Council to negotiate and approve a more favorable lease was viewed as nearly impossible.

The Plan

Based on Carter & Co. Communications’ strong ties with Mayor Swearengin and City Council members, the Grizzlies hired the firm to leverage those relationships into a new lease. With the stadium having faced fervent opposition upon its inception, Carter & Co. Communications immediately recognized two strategies that must happen:

  1. Quickly neutralize expected opposition.
  2. Mobilize fans and supporters to gain a wave of public backing.

This plan was implemented while the firm convinced City Council members it was in the city’s best interests to negotiate a new lease, and while the firm monitored the media in this polarizing fight.

A new lease was eventually negotiated but still had to be approved through a City Council vote. By that time, Carter & Co. Communications had rallied significant public support for approval through mailings and positive media outreach. So much so that the City Council and Mayor Swearengin received countless calls, letters and e-mails asking to redo the lease and keep the Grizzlies in Fresno.

The Result

The night of the vote in 2009, the council chamber was overrun with supporters for a new lease, which was approved by a 6-to-1 vote. Council members who previously opposed a new lease pointed to overwhelming public support as a major reason their votes changed.

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