D-backs, county agree to give team right to look elsewhere

FILE - In this June 18, 2014, file photo, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers play a baseball game at Chase Field in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks have reached an agreement with Maricopa County that, among other things, would give the franchise the immediate right to explore rebuilding Chase Field or moving to another site. The memorandum of understanding also gives the Diamondbacks complete control of Chase, the downtown ballpark completed when the franchise was born in 1998. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks have reached an agreement with the Maricopa County Stadium District that, among other things, would give the franchise the immediate right to explore rebuilding Chase Field or moving to another site.

The proposed memorandum of understanding also gives the Diamondbacks complete control of Chase Field, the downtown ballpark completed when the franchise was born in 1998.

The agreement stipulates the team will play at Chase for at least five more seasons unless a new facility is ready elsewhere in Maricopa County, which the county termed ”unlikely.”

The ballclub would drop its lawsuit, filed in January of last year against the Maricopa County Stadium District, contending that a minimum of $187 million is needed for repairs and upgrades at the ballpark.

The agreement must be approved by the stadium district’s board of directors, with a public meeting on the issue scheduled for Monday.

”We are hopeful that this proposed memorandum of understanding will lead to the end of the long, arduous negotiation regarding the future of Chase Field,” Diamondbacks Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said in a statement released by the team. ”We believe this will provide the best opportunity for the D-backs to remain in Arizona for the long term. Our primary focus remains the team on the field and providing our fans with the best experience in all of baseball.”

The agreement was the result of arbitration, with Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Peter Swann acting as mediator.

Under the deal, the district and the county would make no further investment in the ballpark.

”It is in the district’s strongest interest to keep the team at the stadium, or at least in Maricopa County,” the memorandum said.

The Diamondbacks would ”have all responsibility for management, maintenance, booking and upgrading the stadium.”

There would be unspecified penalties, the memorandum said, if the team leaves Chase Field before 2027.

According to the background in the memorandum, Maricopa County taxpayers invested $238 million in the ballpark and the Diamondbacks ”well over $100 million.” There is no debt on the building.

Under the current agreement, the Diamondbacks do not have permission to explore new locations until 2023.

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