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Without upgrades at Chase Field, MLB could look to move Diamondbacks

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PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks could be searching for a new place to play baseball if upgrades are not made to Chase Field, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday.

“There will come a point in time where with this franchise — like any other franchise – if we reach the conclusion it’s not a Major League-quality facility, we’re going to look for an alternative,” he said prior to the D-backs game against the San Diego Padres.

Manfred said studies conducted by both the team and the landowner, Maricopa County, proved the ballpark is in need of some major updates.

“I think, for this particular facility to remain a Major League-quality stadium, there are substantial capital expenditures that need to be made,” he said.

But that’s where Manfred’s agreement with Maricopa County ends. Like the team has argued, he believes the county is on the hook for the renovation costs.

“I understand how old the stadium is,” he said. “The issue is has the landlord made the capital improvements that are always necessary in a stadium in between its 10th and 20th years in order to keep it of a Major League quality?”

The county and team have been split for years over which party is responsible for the estimated $185 million in repairs needed at the facility.

The team filed a lawsuit — which does not seek damages — in January that could allow it to leave its lease with the county nearly a decade ahead of scheduled.

“It should be made clear that the D-backs seek no damages in this suit nor are they seeking any taxpayer funding,” D-backs attorney Leo R. Beus said in a statement at the time. “They are asking the court for the ability to remove the contract restriction that prevents the Diamondbacks from exploring other stadium options.”

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman responded in a statement the same day, calling it “disappointing” that the Diamondbacks are “suing their fans who helped build Chase Field.”

“The team simply wants out of the contract that makes them stay and play through the 2028 season. Saying the facility is in disrepair is outrageous,” the statement read. “It seems the team just wants a new stadium now.”

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Denny Barney has called the team an asset and said keeping them in downtown is the best thing for the community.

“The Diamondbacks are a great asset to the downtown community, to the county and to the state,” he said. “We need to find a way to keep them playing in Chase Field through the end of the original term.”

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said in March that there has been zero desire to leave downtown Phoenix or Chase Field, that over the last four years their discussions have been about them absolving Maricopa County of financial responsibility in exchange for control of the building and managing the building.

“Not owning it — they would still own it, but for us to control the way the Suns do their arena downtown, and it shows that we want to stay,” he said. “And by the way, we even negotiated down to a term sheet that said we were going to play every game throughout our lease at Chase Field.

“It’s sad that we’re at this point.”

An investment company approached Maricopa County in August about purchasing Chase Field. However, that deal fell through after the potential buyers claimed the team would not discuss the idea of a sale.

The team refuted that claim in a letter.

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