Thursday, January 5, 2017


How classy.

Photo of Paul Goldschmidt / Getty Images
The ongoing fight between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Maricopa County over stadium repairs has hit a new, ugly low. Both parties have been at odds over who is contractually obligated to pay for these repairs since early 2016. Since both parties have failed to come to a resolution, the Diamondbacks answer was to sue the county....which in this case is their fan base.

So, you may be asking, "OK Jeana, what do you mean? That doesn't sound right."  Chase Field (Then named Bank One Ballpark) opened in 1998 and was funded largely by county taxpayers who paid $238 million in sales tax to build the stadium. In turn, the county put specific terms that the Diamondbacks would have to abide by to protect all of the taxpayers. One of the most important ones was preventing the team to talk to outside stadium groups until 2024 and playing in the stadium until their lease ended in 2028 ensuring that the taxpayers would not be left with an empty and expensive stadium. Makes sense, right?

Photo: Getty Images
So for years the Diamondbacks have been making written requests to Maricopa county for what they call "necessary repairs" a.k.a upgrades because they believe the county to be financially responsible for them according to the terms of the lease. The county argues that the Diamondbacks are looking for money for cosmetic upgrades that are not necessary and would be the team's financial responsibility. The county will also have enough money over the remainder of the lease to meet its share of the obligations for structural needs. However, the Diamondbacks believe that the county-run stadium has not contributed enough money for upgrades that they believe to be risking safety.....and I laugh. The only risk for fans right now are the people sitting in the outfield trying to dodge home runs hit by the other team.

Once upon a time, Chase stadium opened with a state-of-the art facility and the first retractable roof in baseball and a lavish pool in the outfield. It was cutting edge. And once upon a time, they played meaningful games. Years later, meaningful sold out games are gone and the Diamondbacks are playing in the National League's FIFTH oldest stadium. At the same time, they see the Atlanta Braves who have an older stadium get ready to move into their new ballpark this year. Now the Diamondbacks are throwing a fit.

It is important to note that the exact details of the lease are not known, and are not published anywhere. If the county in fact IS obligated to pay for COSMETIC upgrades, the Diamondbacks need to think long and hard about what they are asking for. Taxpayers have already given them $238 million to build the ballpark so expecting another handout like the two requests detailed HERE look ridiculous. Fancy locker rooms, party suites, concession stands, scoreboards and heating systems should be paid for by the owners, not the taxpayers. By the way, this is the desert southwest....we don't need heating here and I don't want to give you more for your concession stands so you can charge me $8 for a bottle of water instead of the $5 we've been paying for years which was crazy to begin with anyway!

Chase Field is only 19 years old which is nothing compared to ballparks like Fenway and Wrigley Field and those are standing and operating just fine. Fenway has its old and iconic scoreboard that they change themselves and fans don't complain. They've won World Series titles and never acted like they were entitled to a new park even with recent success. The Cubs have beautiful ivy covered walls and aren't asking for a new stadium even after getting a nice fancy spring training facility opened back in 2014.

Photo: Getty Images
The Diamondbacks have done nothing since 2001 except fire managers and then throw a $200 million contract to Zack Greinke and yet they are still a last place team. An expensive pitcher did not make you a better team. Attendance in the last nine years has been extremely poor, so you may want to rethink about that lack of demand for seats. A fancy renovation won't help matters. Fans go to games to see winning teams, not losing teams. So D'Backs please tell me....why are you so deserving of another handout? Instead of throwing money at an expensive pitcher why not throw money and invest in the home that Maricopa County taxpayers so generously sacrificed and gave you? Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

So as the Diamondbacks try to sue their fan base, they will look to get out of their lease and if they do it will start a revolution. As it stands now, three of the four Arizona professional sports teams are unhappy with their homes. So while someone may read this and say "WHO CARES?!" if the Diamondbacks succeed in wiggling their way out of their contract other teams around the country will take notice and try it too. It's greed....and the fans eventually end up paying the price for it.

As a taxpayer and baseball fan who helped pay for Chase Field and has went to MANY games there I can confidently state that the Diamondbacks are trying to penny pinch their fans. The stadium does not need a $187 million face lift. We gave you a house, and just like any other home owner you have to pay to maintain it. You live there. It is not up to the taxpayer to pay for your fancy party suites because we cannot afford it. YOU on the other hand, CAN afford it. According to Forbes the Diamondbacks are worth a cool $925 MILLION!! That's up from $840 MILLION from 2015. In fact WE need the money to be able to afford to go to these games and buy the expensive bottles of water!

So if you think you are entitled to more, continue to throw your fit and isolate your soon to be FORMER fans. Talk to other major cities and see if they want you (good luck with that!) if you still think the grass could be greener on the other side. Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the United States and the larger markets are taken. Maybe the Salt River - Pima Maricopa Indian community will buy you a new stadium since they already gave you a spring training field. If they do, that may be better for people like me, the taxpayer.

Photo: Getty Images
I love baseball, but I understand why the county won't bow down to your demands, D'Backs. You have a lot of money and we don't. A LOT of money. You are ungrateful and think turning your back on the tax payers won't be damning but it will. So maybe it is time for you to take your ball and your bat and find a new home...

 --Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ


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