ASU, D-backs differ on temporary relocation

If it’s not there on page one of the manual of How To Do Business, it’s somewhere listed prominently in the table of contents: When about to enter into a partnership, it’s helpful if the other partner has a clue.

Arizona State president Michael Crow unexpectedly announced Tuesday that the school’s football team would play at Chase Field in Phoenix while Sun Devil Stadium is renovated, calling the Arizona Diamondbacks’ park “the only place for (ASU) going forward.”

A source told the school is in serious talks to move to Chase Field for the 2015 season, with details still needing to be finalized for a temporary move to downtown Phoenix.

Shortly thereafter, D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall issued a statement through a team spokesman contradicting all that information.

“We have not had conversations with ASU, and this came as a surprise to us,” Hall’s statement said. “Our fiduciary responsibility is with the safety of all major league players, and the conditions on the field and this would pose a serious challenge if played in season. There may be a solution for the offseason, as Chase Field is a great stadium for football, having hosted bowl games in the past.”

The rub would appear to be scheduling throughout September and into October — roughly half of Arizona State’s season.

State Press writer Danny Shapiro reported via Twitter that ASU athletic director Steve Patterson said the school planned to finalize a deal to play at Chase Field soon, explaining the “aggressive” plan is to play at Chase Field in 2015 and return to Sun Devil Stadium in 2016. The source said there is no firm timeline on the finalization of such a deal.

Hall’s statement, though, questions the mere existence of such a deal. With construction on Sun Devil Stadium expected to begin after the 2013 season, Patterson has mentioned more than once that ASU could relocate temporarily to Chase Field or University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals), but Crow’s remarks were the most definitive about a potential relocation.

Although specific details of the stadium makeover have yet to be announced, it’s expected that ASU could continue to play in Sun Devil Stadium for the 2014 season, during the early stages of construction. Once heavy reconstruction begins in 2015, they will be displaced.
“While Sun Devil Stadium is being prepared, we look forward to playing our games in Chase Field,” Crow said. “Just in case you were wondering, that’s the only place for us going forward, so it’s really an example of this fantastic relationship we have with the city of Phoenix.”

That revelation came during a press conference at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to formally announce the ASU baseball team’s move there for the start of the 2015 season. ASU and the city of Phoenix finalized a 25-year lease agreement for the ASU baseball team to play at Phoenix Municipal once the Oakland Athletics relocate to HoHokam Park in Mesa beginning in spring 2015. That deal gives ASU all revenue from ticket sales, parking and concessions.

Given Chase Field’s proximity to Sun Devil Stadium — the venues are separated by about 11 miles and an easy light rail commute — it has been the preferred temporary relocation site all along. A move to Glendale would put the Sun Devils’ home games more than 26 miles from Sun Devil Stadium.

With baseball season ending in late September at the earliest, there would be at least a month of overlap with the college football schedule and more if the D-backs were playing in the postseason. As such, scheduling challenges could arise in addition to Hall’s stated concern about unsafe field conditions.

Chase Field has hosted football games a handful of times since being built as Bank One Ballpark for the Diamondbacks in 1998. It was the home of the Insight Bowl from 2000 to 2005. In January 2012, it hosted the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, a high school all-star game.

ASU is set to play six home games during the 2015 season, including non-conference games against New Mexico and Cal Poly.