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D-Backs Evaluated BC Place in Case of Chase Field Emergency


Arizona Diamondbacks officials previously visited Vancouver’s BC Place, evaluating it as a contingency in case major structural issues arose at Chase Field

In a story from The Athletic on Wednesday, it was reported that D-Backs officials in 2018 visited the multipurpose BC Place to evaluate its viability as a temporary venue for home games, in case a structural emergency occurred at the retractable-roof Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The team reportedly took another trip to Vancouver last year, but has yet to shift home games from Chase Field because of the ballpark’s condition.

D-Backs president and CEO Derrick Hall confirmed in a separate interview on Thursday that the team did look at Vancouver as a contingency, citing the need for a backup option in case Chase Field’s retractable roof malfunctioned at an inopportune time. The 2019 trip, reportedly, had to do with seeing how the venue operated when hosting a major concert. More from Arizona Sports:

“Any team that has a dome, in particular in a challenging weather atmosphere, should have at least a backup plan,” Hall said. “I mean, if that (Chase Field) roof won’t close in the middle of summer, we can’t play here. Probably, the union wouldn’t allow it, we wouldn’t allow it.”…

Before the visit to Canada, MLB provided Arizona a list of stadiums capable of hosting baseball teams in case of emergency.

“One of those places was Vancouver. We were very impressed by the city obviously and the stadium. We did go back a second time but that was more for a concert,” Hall said.

The Athletic reported some Diamondbacks employees took in a Mumford & Sons concert.

Speculation has surrounded the future of the D-Backs for several years. In May 2018, team ownership reached an agreement with Maricopa County amidst dissatisfaction with how Chase Field was being run and maintained. The agreement lets the Diamondbacks look for a new home either in the Valley of the Sun or elsewhere after the end of the 2022 season, effectively shaving five years off the Chase Field lease, while assuming maintenance and events booking for the ballpark. In comments earlier this month, Hall and D-Backs managing partner Ken Kendrick seemingly downplayed the urgency behind a new ballpark search, pointing to recent Chase Field upgrades and a more aggressive approach to booking non-baseball events as part of their current operations strategy. More from the Arizona Republic:

Hall said: “Nothing new, but by design. We really tapped the brakes because of everything we’re doing at the stadium now. The fact that we put in that new synthetic grass last year, learning what it’s like to book the building (for other events). I think we’ve done a great job and it’s only going to get better. It does provide us with new resources from a revenue standpoint that we can invest back into the team.

“Right now, we’re focusing on Chase Field now that we do have control of the building. There’s not such an urgency to figure out that next step. We have time. There’s going to come a time when we continue to kick the tires around Maricopa County. We’re doing everything possible to get (Chase Field) ready and keep it in tip-top shape, prolong the longevity and health of that stadium. It’s our responsibility to do as much due diligence as we can on what it would be like to stay there if we can.”

Kendrick said: “My image of that stadium, as the fans would see it, is like a classic automobile. It is really a nice setting in which to play, but the classic automobile, when you pull the engine back on a classic automobile, you find things sometimes you wouldn’t wish you would find. In a stadium of that age, you have some of those things. How we’re going to be able to manage all of those long-term is really very challenging. We won’t be able to. We’ll have to invest significant money into the infrastructure that you all won’t really observe and the fans won’t really observe. But if we don’t do those things, we’ll have potentially some very significant failure at some future date. We can’t predict when and what, but it’s likely to happen.”

For the D-Backs, the immediate focus seems to be on ensuring that Chase Field remains operational while making upgrades such as the new artificial turf surface that was installed before last season. At some point in the future, the D-Backs are likely to address their facility situation with a new ballpark or a major renovation, but team officials have maintained for some time that their focus is on remaining in Arizona.

BC Place (pictured above) is a multipurpose stadium that first opened in 1983 with an inflated roof, similar to the now-demolished Metrodome, before receiving a retractable roof as part of a major renovation completed in 2011. It is primarily used for professional soccer and football, with the CFL’s BC Lions and MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC both calling it home.

Image courtesy BC Place.

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