With more immediate priorities surrounding Chase Field maintenance, the Arizona Diamondbacks indicate there is no urgency behind discussions of a new or renovated ballpark.
The condition of Chase Field had become a point of contention in recent years for the D-Backs, who sued Maricopa County on the claim that the county had deferred maintenance to the facility in violation of their lease. In response to the lawsuit, the county and the team entered court-mandated mediation, eventually agreeing to a settlement last May that essentially allowed the D-Backs to begin an immediate search for a new facility in exchange for assuming maintenance of Chase Field.
In the period since, there has been no public indication about what the D-Backs are planning long term and whether it will involve a new or renovated ballpark. When addressing the situation recently, team president Derrick Hall indicated that the D-Backs have not been in a rush to pursue those plans, as they have been focused on immediate upgrades to Chase Field. He did, however, provide a glimpse of what future facility plans could look like, as the D-Backs are envisioning a smaller ballpark with surrounding development. More from the Arizona Republic:
“We haven’t felt an urge or a need at this point,” he said. “We haven’t really kicked the tires as much as we probably could or should.”
Hall noted the team has been focused on work at Chase Field, such as installing synthetic turf, which could reduce wear on the building from opening the roof to grow natural grass, and taking over management of event bookings, such as an upcoming Billy Joel concert.
No matter where the Diamondbacks end up, the team’s vision is a stadium with fewer seats surrounded by lots of restaurant and entertainment options, offices, a hotel and apartments.
“The day of standalone stadiums is not nearly as popular,” Hall said.
In any case, it is going to take time for the D-Backs to sort out a plan for a ballpark that is surrounded by new development. That would hold true if they pursued a new ballpark in downtown Phoenix or elsewhere in the Valley, where planning could take years, and any Chase Field renovations would require careful consideration if they are even deemed feasible. (As our own Kevin Reichard noted last year, the back rows at Chase Field are notoriously far from the playing field, likely one of the many areas of Chase Field the D-Backs would look to address in a renovation.)
The D-Backs have played at Chase Field since its opening in 1998, and their current lease for the ballpark runs through 2027. Under their settlement last year, the D-Backs could begin exploring alternatives immediately and leave Chase Field for another location in Maricopa County without penalty in 2022.
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