Diamondbacks sue Maricopa County as they continue to seek a new ballpark
Chase Field is only 19 years old
As part of their efforts to secure a new ballpark, the Arizona Diamondbacks have sued Maricopa County over repairs to Chase Field, reports Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic. The lawsuit was filed with the Maricopa County Supreme Court on Tuesday.
According to Sanders, the D-Backs seek to break their lease so they can pursue renovations or, more likely, a new ballpark. The team has expressed interest in a new facility in recent months. The lease stipulates the team cannot leave Chase Field until 2028. They aren't allowed to talk about a new park with outside entities until 2024.
Maricopa County owns Chase Field and has been at odds with the club over repairs and upgrades to the stadium, which could approach $200 million in cost. The county says the team is financially responsible and the team says the county is financially responsible. Here's more from Sanders:
The county argues that a portion of the upgrades are cosmetic and the team's financial responsibility, and that the county will have enough money over the long term to meet its share of the obligations. The Diamondbacks counter that the county-run stadium district has not set aside enough money for needed upgrades and is risking safety.
A deal with potential private investors, who proposed to purchase and renovate Chase Field, fell apart last year. D-Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick told Sanders the lawsuit doesn't impact the team's operations and "for 2017, Chase Field is completely safe."
The larger issue here is that the D-Backs are already trying to secure a new ballpark, before Chase Field hosts its 20th season. This is a disturbing trend in baseball. The Braves are leaving Turner Field after only 20 seasons and moving into brand new SunTrust Park in 2017. The Rangers recently received approval for a new $1 billion ballpark. Globe Life Park in Arlington opened in 1994.
Of course, building a new ballpark after only 20-something years wouldn't be such a big deal if it didn't cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Plenty of studies have debunked the theory that a new stadium spurs significant local economic growth, such as this one and this one, yet municipalities continue to pay huge dollars for ballparks with an increasingly short shelf life.
The D-Backs hope to have a ballpark that is a "fancier shopping-and-dining destination" according to Sanders, which is the new trend these days. The new Yankee Stadium is basically a mall with a baseball field. Does anyone actually go to the ballpark to shop and dine though? A few do, I'm sure. But the vast majority of patrons are there to, you know, watch a baseball game.
As long as local governments keeping agreeing to fund new ballparks, teams are going to continue to put their hand out asking for more, even when their current stadium is more than adequate.
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