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Hall: D-backs focused on Chase Field, far from determining future home

Derrick Hall, Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks, greets reporters as he arrives for baseball owners meetings Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

It’s been nine months since the Arizona Diamondbacks and Maricopa County agreed upon a memorandum of understanding to end a lawsuit over their control and maintenance of the MLB team’s home, Chase Field.

The deal struck after the two sides were pushed toward arbitration gave the D-backs control of their aging stadium and committed them to remain there through 2022.

While the agreement also gave the Diamondbacks the ability to begin searching for future stadium options around the county without penalty, the team has yet to ramp up the process of looking at alternatives, president Derrick Hall said Thursday.

“Way too early, in its infancy,” he told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “We haven’t even really focused on anything other than Chase Field because we’ve been so focused on getting the stadium ready for the season, with the new surface, making sure we know what we’re doing from a booking standpoint. So it’s all new to us.”

The memorandum stated the county will not pay new public money toward stadium upkeep.

The Diamondbacks have taken control of Chase Field, keeping revenue from all events at the stadium, though the county still owns the land and building.

While years out from needing a new home or deciding to refurbish Chase Field, which the team has been in since its MLB inception in 1998, the D-backs will consider all options.

Hall has visited MLB’s most recent new stadium project, The Battery Atlanta, which is a $400 million entertainment district around the home of the Braves, SunTrust Park. The team has also researched other models outside and inside MLB.

“I think the model now is mixed-use,” Hall said. “That’s the future of stadiums. The standalone doesn’t really work anymore as these mixed-use facilities do, so you can have really 365 days of entertainment, you’ve got your hotels, you’ve got your restaurants, you’ve got your office buildings. It’s a great model.

“Now, that may not work for us. We’ll see.”

The Diamondbacks could also consider staying in Chase Field and building around the ballpark, though Hall told reporters, including The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan, that the team hasn’t yet approached any land owners about lots adjacent to their home.

Hall told Doug & Wolf that “there’s plenty of footprint downtown” to stay at the team’s current location, and Arizona could follow a similar model set by the Colorado Rockies, who have built more vertically around their downtown Denver space at Coors Field.

For now, the D-backs remain focused on basic maintenance and have been slow to use available funds for large-scale projects on Chase Field. Hall told Doug & Wolf on Feb. 12 that while approximately $185 million was needed for renovations, the team is holding its fund for emergencies.

“We just need to preserve the building best we can. We have to prioritize the needs right now,” he said Thursday.

As for the right now, that means focusing on booking events and preparing the home opener against the Boston Red Sox on April 5. Among those preparations is installing a new stadium turf.

“We just have to make sure we do those (projects) in the proper order,” Hall said. “I’m not sure it makes sense to just overhaul the building right now. We just have to take care maintenance-wise of the building and make sure it looks good and performs well.”

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