D-Backs lawyer: If our stadium a/c keeps leaking, MLB could force the team to leave Arizona

Sports team owners trying to get other people — mayors, league commissioners — to make move threats for them is a time-honored tradition, but “if we don’t get a new stadium, the league might force us to move” is a rarely employed gambit. Which makes it all the more jaw-dropping that the Arizona Diamondbacks are now alleging that if Maricopa County doesn’t fix leaky pipes at Chase Field, MLB could force the team to leave Arizona:

Leo Beus, an attorney for the team, raised the MLB specter as he argued to a Superior Court judge that the case should be decided quickly because the team is “facing a crisis.”

“Major League Baseball … they’re very, very concerned,” Beus said, noting he has spoken with six of the league’s top lawyers. “If Major League Baseball decides they want to create issues for us, there might not be baseball at all in Arizona.”

“We’d like to keep the franchise in place, we’d like to make peace with Major League Baseball, not that we’re at war,” he continued. “We don’t know where that’s going to come out. They’re very concerned.”

Okay, so. Beus’s main gripes are over two incidents in June, one where a sewage pipe burst in an office (ew) and another where a power surge caused an air-conditioning system to flood suites and other areas of the stadium right before a game (less ew, but it meant the a/c was off for the game, which is pretty ew in Phoenix). But the D-Backs’ court battle with the county isn’t over whether the stadium needs to be maintained; it’s over who will pay for maintenance, which the team says is the county’s job (to the tune of $187 million), and the county says is on the team. (The latter is what the county’s agreement to the team appears to say, but I am not a lawyer, let alone a judge.)

All of which brings us to our quote of the day, from Maricopa County’s attorney, Cameron Artigue:

“This (lawsuit) has nothing to do with the water leaks and the merits of Chase Field,” he said. “The Diamondbacks are the facility manager. When a pipe breaks, that is a Diamondbacks problem. And that is, in fact, what happened. They got out the mops and they mopped it up, and life goes on. It’s a big facility and sometimes pipes break. So what?”

Anyway, if anyone really thinks there’s a chance that MLB is going to force only its second franchise relocation in 45 years because a couple of stadium pipes broke, I have some Mets World Championship bets for you to place. Chalk this up to “Lawyers Say the Funniest Things” — come to think of it, “we’d like to make peace with Major League Baseball, not that we’re at war” would make a pretty good quote of the week, too.

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18 comments on “D-Backs lawyer: If our stadium a/c keeps leaking, MLB could force the team to leave Arizona

  1. I was waiting to hear how a home run ball broke somebody’s windshield as yet another example of the terrible conditions at the park. I guess they’re saving that one for a future filing.

  2. Yes, the Diamondbacks are going to leave the nation’s 5th largest city because a pipe broke! Wonder where they will go? I heard Montreal wants a team again.

  3. “If Major League Baseball decides they want to create issues for us, there might not be baseball at all in Arizona.”

    Not at all? You mean the whole Cactus League would follow the Snakes out of state? Darn that MLB!

  4. If I were the powers that be in Maricopa County, I’d call their bluff by holding a press conference and announcing “The Diamondbacks have asked to be released from their lease agreement. On behalf of Maricopa County, we agree to such a release, effective immediately, and expect the team to vacate the premises no later than (whatever date is dictated by the lease in the event of early termination). We wish them well in finding a new home for their franchise.” And then walk away from the podium.

    1. I like it.

      Since it appears that the team is presently violating it’s lease agreement by not maintaining the facility as is required, they could also cancel the lease themselves.

    2. The Diamondbacks actually want out of their lease to have a new park built on tribal lands. This would be doing exactly what they want.

      This park would be in a more affluent area (Scottsdale), similar to what the Braves did. They also want more “team friendly” rent terms, they currently pay $3.5 million a year to Maricopa County. Their CEO Derrick Hall whined about it on the radio. As if $240 million dollars in public money wasn’t team friendly.

      They also want a smaller stadium in terms of seat capacity to charge more money for tickets.

      The whole situation is a ruse to get out of their lease.

      1. I don’t doubt that at all, Geoff. But they won’t be able to play in a new stadium next April, so terminating the lease “now” would force their hand in the short term. It would also mean that the land on which the present stadium sits could (in time) be put back on the tax roll.

        I don’t expect a lease termination to happen, but in the unlikely event that it did MLB and the DBacks would have some chainsaw juggling to do in the short term.

        It would likely mean a temporary relocation as I don’t see MLB approving summer play at the Cubs facility in Mesa or any other local option.

        Can you think of anywhere else they could reasonably play for a couple of seasons?

        1. I didn’t think of it that way. That would actually be entertaining to see them scramble after all their demands.

          I thought Oakland should have done that to the Raiders since they are moving to Vegas.

          1. I agree on Oakland completely. Termination there would have been a near perfect option. What’s the NFL going to do? Threaten not to demand several hundred million for stadium renovations (and an unsold ticket compulsory purchase clause) on the off chance that the Raiders might want to move back there some day, or something.

            Oakland is done with the NFL for good. Even die hard Raider nation faithful must know this now.

  5. I loved the part where the lawyer said, “…we’d like to make peace with Major League Baseball, not that we’re at war.” Thank God you’re not at war, sir.

  6. Leo Beus says there willl be no baseball at all in Arizona! Does that mean no more Cactus League? What about Little League? No baseball at all!!! Really? I think Leo Beus is a liar!

    1. Major League Baseball some real audacity threatening to move the team after all the subsidies given to teams for Spring Training stadiums. We need to quit this corporate welfare. People complain about welfare recipients but at least they are typically using the money to survive.

      Corporate welfare makes no sense. Billionaires privatizing their profits and socializing their losses. This is crony capitalism.

  7. D-backs CEO: Any MLB-ordered move from Chase Field would be temporary


    1. Hall is trying to save face at this point and back-pedal on what his lawyer said. The lawyer meant potentially permanently moving the team.

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