Maricopa County will debate a potential sale of Chase Field to private investors, potentially ending a feud with the Arizona Diamondbacks management over future repairs and renovations to the facility.
Technically, the county board of supervisors will decide whether or not to begin negotiations on a ballpark deal to Integral Group of Atlanta and Park South Capital LLC of New York and Toronto, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, with a sale expected to be in the $60-million range after a third-party appraisal. Integral Group has specialized in various housing developments across the country, with a focus on sustainable development. Egberg L.J. Perry, Integral’s chairman and chief executive officer, is also chairman of the board of Fannie Mae. A quick look at the Integral Group website didn’t yield any sports-related investments; a Google search didn’t yield any sports investments from Park South Capital LLC.
In March, the team detailed issues with Chase Field, including issues with deferred maintenance, and asked for $187 million to cover these shortcomings and improve the D-Backs fan experience. And, the team did so with a specific threat, asking to be removed from the ballpark lease if the improvements weren’t made. The response from county board chairman Clint Hickman was pretty blunt: he rejected the request, writing that maintaining the Chase Field lease will “ensure that the taxpayers, who had paid $238 million in sales taxes to build the stadium (in addition to the District’s undertaking an additional $15 million contribution for construction costs), would not be left with an empty stadium.” Despite that statement, the two sides were talking about who should pay for what per the lease, according to the Arizona Republic:
In late June and July, Diamondbacks officials submitted two letters again requesting funding for repairs. One sought reimbursement for about $650,000 in improvements the team made to suites, the dugout, concession areas, locker rooms and heating and cooling systems. County officials denied some items and said others might be approved with additional documentation.
The second letter outlined about $64 million in proposed repairs over five years, from replacing scoreboards to renovating party lounges. County officials agreed to continue funding structural issues such as repairs to concrete and steel. But they denied other expenses as superficial, inviting further negotiation.
The decision to sell the ballpark was made in private by county supervisors after an increasingly volatile relationship between the two sides, culminating with Supervisor Andy Kunasek telling team owner Ken Kendrick recently to “take your stupid baseball team and get out” and go back to “f–king West Virginia.”
However, there’s one big issue here for both the county and the team: the Diamondbacks have veto power over a potential sale, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, so at some point Maricopa County must get some sign-off from the team.