Maricopa County has signed off on a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks that will allow the Major League Baseball (MLB) team to leave its Chase Field ballpark as soon as 2022, ending legal action between the two parties.
The Diamondbacks have called the Phoenix stadium home since the ballpark opened in 1998 to house the MLB expansion franchise. However, the team has become dissatisfied at the county’s efforts to ensure Chase Field remains in line with modern stadia standards and last year launched a lawsuit seeking to break its 30-year lease in an effort to search for a new home.
The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that under the terms of deal that was rubber-stamped by the county board of supervisors yesterday (Wednesday), the Diamondbacks can immediately commence a search for a new ballpark site in exchange for dropping its demand that the county fund $187m (£137.9m/€157.6m) in upgrades at Chase Field.
If the franchise secures a new location in Maricopa County, the team could leave Chase Field without penalty in 2022, five years earlier than the current lease deal. If the Diamondbacks leave Arizona after 2022, the team would have to pay penalties of between $5m and $25m.
Diamondbacks majority owner Ken Kendrick said: “We will do everything in our power to ensure a safe and friendly environment while being diligent in determining the best long-term stadium option for the D-Backs. Our front office will continue to focus on our team on the field, the fan experience and the key role we play in the Arizona community.”
The Diamondbacks will now take control of stadium maintenance and be permitted to spend $35m in repair money on a new scoreboard, air conditioning equipment and other items previously in dispute. The team also could receive up to $20m from the county at the end of the contract as reimbursement for repairs.
In exchange, the county will be released from any obligation to pay for further repairs and will maintain ownership of the land in downtown Phoenix, which could be open for redevelopment if the team leaves.
Image: MSgt. Raheem Moore