PHOENIX — Maricopa County filed Friday a motion to dismiss the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lawsuit in an a yearlong battle over maintenance costs for Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.
In a statement announcing Friday’s motion to dismiss the suit, the county said the team pays rent to play at Chase Field and the ongoing argument basically boils down to a tenant disliking how its landowner spends that rent.
“They signed the contracts and the contracts say: the Diamondbacks are the tenant, the Stadium District is the landlord, and … the simple fact is, they’re not allowed to sue just because they’re unhappy with their landlord,” Grady Gammage, one of the attorneys representing Maricopa County, said.
The team reacted positively to the move in a statement released Friday, saying Maricopa County “has finally acknowledged that the taxpayers and Diamondbacks together partnered on the funding of Chase Field.”
Leo Beus, a lawyer representing the team, said in a statement Friday that there was “absolutely no cooperation from the County” in raising $187 million for “future facility needs.”
“There was absolutely no cooperation from the County and they made no attempts to resolve the issues facing the obvious shortfall they had created,” the statement read. “Now, they would like to avoid a public hearing on our lawsuit and meet in private, as we had done in the past to no avail.”
The Diamondbacks filed the suit in early January. It did not seek damages, but would instead allow the team to explore other options and consider a move away, effectively breaking its lease with the county.
The team and county have squared off over the past year over maintenance costs for the facility.
According to the team, the Stadium District — which oversees the ballpark and is run by the county — had not met its obligations to fund improvements, and will not be able to pay for $185 million worth of repairs the team said needed to be done.
Denny Barney, chairman of the Maricopa County Stadium District Board of Directors, said the county should only be on the hook for about $35 million over the next decade or so to preserve the structural integrity of the stadium. He said the team should be responsible for the other $140 million it wants to invest for fan experiences.
“It may be changing the number of seats or other things that they want to do in the facility that goes beyond what we’re obligated to do as a landlord,” he said.
In addition to dismissing the team’s lawsuit, it would also push a dispute about maintenance costs for the facility to an arbitration hearing as mandated in the contracts between the team and county.
“The county and its taxpayers made a deal with the Diamondbacks: we will build you a stadium, and you promise to play in it through the 2027 baseball season,” Barney said in the release. “We want the team here and we expect them to keep their promise.”
KTAR’s Corbin Carson contributed to this report.
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