After a long legal battle over the Diamondbacks and the Maricopa County Stadium District, the two sides have reached an agreement in regards to the team’s stadium situation. The Diamondbacks sued the county over the inability to be able to book events, make repairs, and being able to explore a stadium site. The current lease didn’t allow the Diamondbacks to explore options to leave Chase Field until after 2024 while the county was responsible for funding the repairs to the current stadium. The agreement is a “memorandum in understanding” and the county needs to vote on this in full before the agreement becomes official.
A study done by the county reported that Chase Field needs $187M to for repairs and maintenance over the final 20 seasons under the original lease. With the agreement in place. Sensing that they didn’t have the money to undergo a large public legal battle, the county made concessions on allowing the Diamondbacks to fund repairs, be able to book events at Chase Field outside of the baseball season, and the ability to immediately search for a new stadium site. The Diamondbacks can look for a new site for where the team can play immediately without paying a penalty with the condition that the location of the new stadium site has to be in Maricopa County. The team has been looking at building a new stadium site off Loop 101, near Salt River Fields on Native American land.
There are multiple reasons the Diamondbacks have been looking at potentially a new ballpark. The first major reason is to shrink the number of seats from the 48,000 capacity Chase Field. Outside of Opening Day and postseason games, the team struggles to sell out the building. If there is a new stadium, I’d expect the seating capacity to be closer to 35,000-38,000 in order to have a more full ballpark on a nightly basis. Another reason would be moving Chase Field more towards the big business sectors in Chandler and Scottsdale and the major population centers in the east part of the Phoenix metro area.
If the team is able to find a new stadium site in the Native American reservation off Loop 101, that likely keeps baseball in the Phoenix area for a long time although I’m sure a lot of West Valley residents probably wouldn’t like the new stadium location. In the mean time, the team will be playing at Chase Field through the 2021 season.