County okays pursuing D-Backs stadium sale, lacks only all details about everything

Going into yesterday’s Maricopa County board meeting on the possible sale of the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ stadium to a private investment firm, two of the big questions were: Could the county craft a deal that the Diamondbacks owners, who have the right to block a sale, would approve? And would any public money be required?

Coming out of the meeting, the Arizona Republic reports:

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to move forward with negotiations to sell Chase Field, the downtown Phoenix home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, to private out-of-state investors…

But the county vote raised several key questions that went unanswered, including whether the team would support a sale and whether a taxpayer subsidy would be included.

Yeah, we’re cooking with gas now!

County supervisors told the Republic that the deal would extend the Diamondbacks’ lease through 2028, which sounds awfully presumptuous given that nobody’s actually talked to the team owners about this. The paper also reports that “the buyer would be required to reach a deal with the team within the first two years of the contract to pay for capital repairs over the life of the stadium,” which seems nuts — if the two sides just stare at each other saying, “You pay for it!” “No, you!”, what happens, do the buyers go back to the county for a refund?

On the subsidy front, supervisor Andy Kunasek, who you’ll remember from his profanity-laced “go to West Virginia” tirade in response to the D-Backs’ subsidy demands, raised the possibility of giving the private investors either a property tax exemption or a kickback of sales taxes, which apparently he doesn’t think would be “parasitic” if it’s someone other than the Diamondbacks owners getting it. (Maybe he’s still pissy over the Shelby Miller trade?)

Of course, all this is still in the very early stages, so it’s probably best not to think of anything as more than a harebrained scheme that somebody threw out there to see if it’ll stick. I mean, listen to this, from the Republic:

New shops, restaurants and hospitality services could spring up at the ballpark, as the buyer seeks to develop the site into a sports and entertainment “destination.” Among the ideas: Add retail and dining to the open plaza outside the stadium and within the stadium by reducing the seating capacity from 48,000 to 30,000.

This is for a stadium with a retractable roof, mind you, so it’s not like you can easily reduce the building’s footprint in order to jam in more steakhouses. I guess you could rip out all the seats down the left-field line and build a giant sushi bar or something, but that doesn’t seem like a much better idea. Besides, do you really want people eating raw fish before having to watch Shelby Miller?

4 comments on “County okays pursuing D-Backs stadium sale, lacks only all details about everything

  1. Good stuff, Neil.

    From where I sit the developers’ idea dose make a smidgen of sense. I’ve noticed that a lot of malls are converting as much space as possible to restaurant/bar/fun areas. I think a year-round Dave & Buster’s style place in the upper deck of right field could be interesting.

  2. It’s hard for me to believe they could put MORE retail in the place. It already has like 15 team shops and more points of sale – most manned by the terrible Levy Restaurants people – than I have ever seen.

    Around the park, there are some places. Within walking distance, some more. Good luck expecting things to “spring up,” though.

  3. Reducing the seating capacity from 48,000 to 30,000? Are they nuts? They’re only averaging 25,000 people per game, but still, try to reach a little higher!

    I would like to know what it would cost to build something new with only 30,000 seats. would reducing the size by 20,000 seats have a real impact on the cost or is the real expense of a stadium these days less about the “size” than about the extras, most of which would remain in a smaller facility?

  4. “New shops, restaurants and hospitality services could spring up at the ballpark, as the buyer seeks to develop the site into a …”

    That’s how it was sold the first go-around! Since my seats (10 games of a season ticket split) are along the 3rd baseline, I wonder where I’ll be relocated. I’m not looking forward to ballpark sushi either.