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Maricopa County/Diamondbacks Spat Continues

Arizona DiamondbacksAs Maricopa County solicits bids for management and booking of non-baseball events at Chase Field, and the team pursues a lawsuit seeking ballpark maintenance, everyone is ignoring the most obvious solution to the Arizona Diamondbacks/county spat: sell the ballpark to the D-Backs.

Chase Field serves many masters on the financial front, it appears. On one hand, the Diamondbacks are responsible for things like concessions and team stores. On another hand, Maricopa County is responsible for things like capital maintenance and receives revenue from the Diamondbacks and non-baseball events. And, finally, another firm handles the management and booking of events outside the Diamondbacks season.

That firm, for the last 10 years, has been Scottsdale-based Select Artists’ Associates/SMG, which splits revenues with the team and the county. That contract is up, and Maricopa County solicited bids for the management. Two bids were received, and presumably one was from Select Artists’ Associates/SMG.

There’s a problem there: the management of Chase Field for non-baseball events was cited in the Diamondbacks’ lawsuit seeking to end the Chase Field lease early. With only a handful of major events each offseason, the Diamondbacks argued, not enough revenue is being generated for Maricopa County to perform contractually obligated maintenance. The defense from Select Artists’ Associates/SMG: Phoenix is a very competitive market for events (two arenas and an NFL stadium compete for concerts, trade shows and the like), limiting the firm’s ability to book major events. From the Arizona Republic:

When team officials first said publicly last year that they wanted contract concessions or they would seek a new home, they proposed taking over the contract to manage Chase Field’s non-baseball events. But now an attorney for the team says whoever is awarded the work likely won’t satisfy the team’s concerns.

“It’s not going to affect the lawsuit,” Leo Beus told The Arizona Republic. “… At this stage, we just need the ability to look elsewhere.”

The contract for non-baseball events such as mega concerts, GoDaddy holiday parties and soccer matches is the subject of a closed-door meeting Monday by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

There is a solution that could conceivably appease all involved: sell Chase Field to the Diamondbacks. Maricopa County isn’t exactly swimming in money. Big picture here: an upgraded Chase Field and a renovated Talking Stick Resort Arena (which we think will address the business needs of both the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes) could be the core of some downtown Phoenix redevelopment — something that could attract some serious investment dollars. But we’re a long ways from this happening.

RELATED STORIES: Rob Manfred: Chase Field Needs WorkMaricopa County Files to Dismiss D-Backs LawsuitD-Backs Sue Over Chase Field AgreementChase Field Sale ScratchedChase Field Could be ReplacedDeadline Extended for Chase Field Sale2010 Appraisal: Chase Field Worth $45 Million; Will D-Backs Exercise Veto Over Chase Field Sale?Maricopa County Debates Sale of Chase Field to Investors; Drama in the DesertDiamondbacks: Improve Chase Field or We Will Leave

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