Sharper Point: Would a Diamondbacks move mean fewer fans?
When Maricopa County and the Arizona Diamondbacks came to an agreement last week about Chase Field, a lot of people cheered.
The D-backs were suing the county to pony-up $187 million to repair and modernize the stadium. But if they agree to drop that lawsuit, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said they will allow the Diamondbacks to leave Chase Field as early as 2022 – five years early – without paying any penalties.
Those penalties were put in place to protect taxpayers – who paid $238 million to build the ballpark for the team.
I will tell you why the Diamondbacks shouldn’t move in a moment, but first, if they do move, where would they go?
Well, one of the places that’s being talked about is just a couple blocks south of Chase Field. But that seems silly.
Building a whole new stadium next door makes sense if your stadium was built in the ‘60s, ‘70s or even ‘80s – like Houston and Denver did with their NFL stadiums. But at 20 years old, Chase Field can’t even legally buy one of its own giant beers. Why not just fix up the ol’ BOB?!
Other locations in the mix include Tempe Town Lake (no, not in the lake); near Gateway Airport in southeast Mesa; Near Kyrene and the Loop 202 in Chandler; and near where I-17 and Loop 303 meet.
A Diamondbacks fan from Surprise would have to travel more than 60 miles to watch a game at “Gateway Ballpark.” And a fan living in Gilbert would have to drive just a little less to attend a game at “Nortera Stadium.”
Gosh guys, why don’t you just build it at Cordes Junction?
I understand that every pro team wants a state-of-the-art facility. But is putting a baseball stadium in the far east, far west or far north Valley going to increase attendance? Probably not.
And that brings us to the dirty little secret about the hottest team in the National League: the D-backs have averaged a tad under 27,000 people per game this season. That’s barely half-full and below average among major-league teams.
The Dodgers average 20,000 more people per game; the Giants are 93 percent full and the Rockies are also in the top-10 in MLB home attendance.
The Arizona Diamondbacks need more reasons for people to attend games – not fewer.
But hey, maybe this is all about optics, accepting smaller crowds and embracing lackluster Arizona fans.
Because if the Diamondbacks don’t build it halfway to Flagstaff or Blythe, a new, smaller ballpark would mean fewer SportsCenter highlights of AJ Pollock home runs landing among a sea of empty seats.
Oh – and one last thing. If the Diamondbacks do decide to move, please tell them I sold my truck and I’m busy for the next 2,386 Saturdays.