It was announced Tuesday that the Maricopa County Stadium District has entered into a letter of intent with a private third party for the sale and purchase of Chase Field for around $60 million.
Should the Arizona Diamondbacks — who have called the stadium home since 1998 — be happy about this? Should the taxpayers?
Yes and no.
We learned about the fight between these two earlier in the year when it was very publicly announced that the Diamondbacks had a list of repairs that needed to be made to Chase Field and that the Maricopa County Stadium District disagreed and refused to make the repairs.
Then came the battle of the press conferences to try to sway the court of public opinion to each side.
Taxpayers were understandably concerned this was a play by the team to get them to pay for more than what was originally bargained for. After digging deeper into the issue, that doesn’t appear to be what the team wanted at all.
Basically, this is a landlord-tenant dispute. Maricopa County is the landlord and the team is the tenant.
Under the contract between the two, as the landlord, the county is required to maintain and make certain repairs — dare I say upgrades — to Chase Field. However, the parties disagreed as to which repairs on the mutually-created list were “required” to be paid for by the county and when.
Think about it this way: If the air conditioning fails in your apartment, you would expect the landlord to repair or replace it. On the other hand, if you want a new TV in that apartment, then that will be your responsibility to purchase.
Even after months of disagreements and discussions, the parties still were not able to agree and resolve the issue. It was then that the Diamondbacks took it to the next level and indicated it wanted to reach out to other parties to invest in Chase Field and help pay for the repairs/upgrades since the county wasn’t willing and did not have the money to do so. Maricopa County refused to allow this to happen.
And then all went quiet on the home front, maybe because the parties were taking a cooling off period, or maybe because the team wasn’t having a successful season.
All was quiet, until now.
Now it is Maricopa County that is looking for outside help and it may have found it. It will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss and vote on whether to sign the letter of intent with a private third party to purchase Chase Field.
If the county votes to go forward, under the terms of the letter of intent, the private party will have until Oct. 31 to conduct its due diligence and determine if it wants to go forward.
This could be fantastic news for the Diamondbacks and for the taxpayers.
With the sale could come the lifting of a heavy economic burden on the taxpayers. It could cause an influx of revenue for the county and Phoenix, because the buyer wants to not only make the repairs that are needed, but also build a sports and entertainment district around Chase Field. This has the potential of creating jobs and bringing in taxes, which should make the people happy.
This could also be good for the D-backs, as the organization may get what it wants. According to the letter of intent, the buyer intends to keep the team at Chase Field until at least 2028 and intends to extend the contract to keep the team there longer. It also intends to commit whatever capital is necessary to improve the facility.
All good news, right? Well, here is the down side: The purchase may not go through and the sides would be back to square one.
The investors are not from Arizona, so, presumably, they are not emotionally attached to our team and may decide to boot it after 2028.
Lastly, the saying “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t” comes to mind. This might be exactly what the Diamondbacks will be thinking later because, in the end, the D-backs can veto the sale.
There is a lot to think about for all involved but some things are certain: Chase Field needs repairs, Maricopa County does not have the money to do it, the taxpayers are not going to pay for it and the Diamondbacks won’t either.
This sale option may be worth everyone getting to know the devil that could actually become an angel.
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