Wish list revealed for new Diamondbacks ballpark

The Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly spelled out their demands for a smaller, more intimate ballpark than their current Chase Field home, while fellow Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Oakland Athletics have been boosted by the end of a lawsuit connected to their efforts to secure a new stadium.

The Diamondbacks’ wish list has been revealed through a public records request filed by the Arizona Republic newspaper with the city of Henderson, Nevada. The team shared a 67-page document with Henderson officials last year amid a search for potential stadium locations.

Henderson responded with a detailed proposal to build a stadium and entertainment complex close to the Las Vegas strip, however these talks are said to have subsided in February. The Diamondbacks are said to have sought a 36,000-42,000-seat stadium, with a retractable roof and 5,000-seat concert hall.

The team was also seeking 45-70 acres of shops, restaurants, offices and residential development surrounding the stadium, as MLB franchises continue to pivot towards a model of seeking smaller stadia with the ability to drive greater revenue through more varied seating options and surrounding multi-purpose development.

In May 2018, Maricopa County signed off on a deal with the Diamondbacks that will allow the team to leave Chase Field as soon as 2022, ending legal action between the two parties. The Diamondbacks have called the 48,519-seat Phoenix stadium home since the ballpark opened in 1998 to house the MLB expansion franchise.

However, the team became dissatisfied at the county’s efforts to ensure Chase Field remains in line with modern stadia standards and in 2017 launched a lawsuit seeking to break its 30-year lease in an effort to search for a new home.

Under the terms of the May 2018 deal that was rubber-stamped by the county board of supervisors, the Diamondbacks were permitted to commence a search for a new ballpark site in exchange for dropping its demand that the county fund $187m (£145.2m/€169.5m) 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.

Regarding the latest report, a Diamondbacks official told the Republic that the team isn’t currently considering proposals from Henderson or other non-Arizona groups. Several groups within Maricopa County remain in contention, the official said.

In other news, Oakland City Council has instructed the city attorney to “immediately drop” its lawsuit against Alameda County that has stopped the latter from selling its half of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site to the A’s.

In a joint statement, Mayor Libby Schaaf, Council President Rebecca Kaplan and Vice-Mayor Larry Reid said the lawsuit has ended because “we’re pleased with our recent discussions with the A’s and our shared interests in Oakland’s future.” They added: “We’re excited to enter into this next phase of negotiations with the A’s to ensure they remain rooted in Oakland.”

The City Council also issued a Surplus Lands Act notice on the Coliseum site. The Surplus Lands Act is a state law that means publicly owned surplus land has to be put forward for affordable housing before it is sold or leased.

Oakland City Council last week voted in favour of entering into exclusive talks with the A’s to sell its half of the Coliseum site. The news came after the A’s last month made a new offer for the site in a bid to break the legal impasse that is putting their plan for a new stadium at risk. The A’s were said to have offered to either buy out the City’s half share in the site of its current home for $85m or enter into a long-term lease deal.

The A’s were earlier met with a significant barrier in ongoing efforts to secure a new home at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal site after the City sued Alameda County over its plan to sell its stake in the Coliseum to the team, a decision that A’s president Dave Kaval said left the franchise “dumbfounded”.

The A’s are hoping to transform the Coliseum site into a mixed-use development in order to help finance its 35,000-seat ballpark plan at Howard Terminal. Responding to the latest news, Kaval said: “We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit.

“We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalising our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland.”

Image: Arizona Diamondbacks