Maricopa County to move ahead with sale of Chase Field, home of Diamondbacks

Aug 17, 2016, 2:09 PM | Updated: Aug 18, 2016, 12:49 pm
(Facebook Photo)...
(Facebook Photo)
(Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — A Maricopa County board approved the initial stages of the sale of Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Wednesday.

The board voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent from Integral Group, an investment company, along with another agreement that would allow the process of purchasing the facility to continue.

“This is a great starting point to find out what the stadium is worth and possibly put it in the hands of a developer who can make the improvements that keep the team at Chase Field beyond the original agreement,” Clint Hickman, Maricopa County supervisor from District 4, said in a release.

The vote creates a two-month window to allow for further talks between the potential buyer, the D-backs and the county, along with an appraisal of the facility.

The minimum purchase price the county will consider is $60 million.

Integral Group said it wants to keep the D-backs playing ball at Chase Field and would complete stadium improvements agreed on by the team within a two-year window. The group also wants to develop the area around the stadium into an entertainment district.

“I think we have hit on an ideal situation where a private company is willing to invest in the stadium and surrounding area, creating more jobs and tax revenue,” Denny Barney, the board’s representative from District 1, said in the same release.

It is not believed Integral Group has met with the team, but Hickman said before the vote that the potential buyer has reached out to the D-backs.

A lawyer for the team said the organization is still gathering facts about the deal but plans to meet with Integral Group’s representatives to discuss the possible purchase.

KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said the deal could be a blessing for both the team and taxpayers, but it’s difficult to be certain.

The Diamondbacks and county have squared off in recent months over the condition of the team’s home.

In March, it was reported that the D-backs were considering ending their lease at Chase Field so they could find a newer, more updated ballpark.

According to the team, the Stadium District (which oversees the ball park) has not met its obligations to fund improvements, and will not be able to pay for $187 million worth of repairs the county determined needed to be done.

The county fired back at the assertion that it has not lived up to its side of the lease agreement.

“Something that was very important to me, as a person, this agreement has been a pretty much living, breathing document for the last 20 years,” Hickman said in March.

“And has helped us, both my predecessor boards as well as this current board, understanding what this agreement is and how to enforce it and how to work and abide by it.

“One of the things I would like to bring to attention is one that gave me pause: the team specifically agreed that all cities and towns within Maricopa County would be irreparably harmed by any attempted or actual relocation of the team, and they were all made third party beneficiaries with certain rights to enforce that section.”

In a March statement, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said the team wants “to remain in downtown Phoenix and we would like nothing better than for that to occur at Chase Field, if that is possible.”

Chase Field has been the Diamondbacks’ home since their inaugural season in 1998. It is the fifth-oldest stadium in the National League.

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Maricopa County to move ahead with sale of Chase Field, home of Diamondbacks