Diamondbacks leaders weighing options for future home ballpark
Feb 20, 2023, 4:30 PM | Updated: Feb 21, 2023, 12:25 pm
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks are not any closer to extending their lease at Chase Field, which expires in 2027, and the organization continues to weigh its options.
Team president and CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick spoke to reporters on Monday and provided updates on what they called a complicated stadium situation.
Chase Field — owned by the Maricopa County Stadium District — is the fourth oldest park in the National League, and Hall said where the team plays in the future is “up in the air.”
“It’s a pretty complex issue for us because we’re county owned, yet we try and work alongside the city, the state, it’s got to be a partnership,” Hall said. “If we’re gonna stay downtown, we’re willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the ballpark.
“… There’s a lot of moving parts, we’re still looking at what other options might be in Maricopa County, not outside of Maricopa County, and there’s been some interested parties.”
Hall said momentum slowed on finding a long-term solution over the past couple of seasons with the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s lockout.
But Chase Field’s roof cable issues in 2022 and the ticking clock of the lease agreement continue to highlight the need for something to give. The D-backs can only open and close the roof so long as no fans are present as a precaution, which will continue to be the case this year.
Hall noted that he would like to know the direction of the team by this summer, and Kendrick joked that he would like to know within his lifetime.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to what the D-backs see as the greatest year-round revenue possibility down the road. Kendrick said that increased revenues would lead to an higher payroll for the team.
“When you see the new ballparks, its office spaces and hotels and restaurants, something that could benefit whether we are downtown or elsewhere,” Hall said. “Where are those opportunities for us, that’s another thing that we’re discussing internally. Because we would love to create 365 days a year of activation around the ballpark.”
They said remaining in downtown is important to the team due to its history, Kendrick’s investments in the area and with more people moving in.
If the D-backs stay put, renovations could be on a timetable of 3-7 years, as Hall put it, with new scoreboards and audio systems getting done more quickly. Kendrick added that fixing infrastructure and improving fan experiences would be primary goals.
“We want to be able to be as appealing as possible to the fan because he and she are those who pay the bills,” Kendrick said. “Getting more fans to come to the ballpark, making it a more a pleasant experience that maybe we can now, some of the premium things that, frankly, our friends up the street the Suns are offering to their fans, and they’re selling out. They have a great team and give them credit for that.
“People are willing to spend more money when the experience is a better one, so we feel our fans deserve that. From the owner standpoint, we’re prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, we’re not looking for a handout.”
The Suns completed their $230 million renovation in 2021. Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes moved out of their previous Gila River Arena (now Desert Diamond Arena) home and are seeking to secure a privately funded arena and entertainment district in Tempe.
Chase Field, the only stadium the D-backs have called home since 1998, was payed for primarily with a 0.25% increase in the county’s sales tax to reach $238 million. Kendrick explained that the ownership group put in over $150 million and is prepared to pay for a financially viable option.