We last brought to you word of turmoil between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Maricopa County over the state of Chase Field and the Diamondbacks desire for a new stadium in March. And now, thanks to a new report from The Arizona Republic, it seems like things between the team and local government have gotten even more contentious.
Back in March, the Diamondbacks were complaining their home stadium, Chase Field, was in disrepair and the team needed to move into a new stadium just 19 years after its current stadium was built. Unfortunately for them, they still had 11 years left on their current lease, and the Maricopa County government was not going to let them off the hook for a stadium taxpayers paid $238 million for. Lawsuits were threatened, but basically the two parties had reached an impasse.
It seems the club had since given up on the idea of a new stadium for now, and was re-focusing its efforts toward getting money from taxpayers to upgrade Chase Field instead. The Diamondbacks wanted $65 million from taxpayers for suite renovation, painting touchups, and a new scoreboard. County officials summarily rejected the proposal on the grounds that these repairs are cosmetic, not covered under the lease agreement, and therefore the team’s responsibility.
Time and again, we have seen how it is in the taxpayer’s best interest to make ownership pay for their own stadiums and upkeep. Despite pressure from the team, the Maricopa County leadership is standing firm and making sure the taxpayer is not on the hook for funding stadium enhancements they probably do not care about.
And in case you were wondering if the county officials might be wavering in their commitment, based on the documents uncovered by the Republic, there is no need to worry. County Supervisor Andy Kunasek is more than committed to making the team pay for its own things.
Kunasek sent Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall a strongly-worded letter back in April that described “the baseball business as ‘evolving into a parasitic enterprise.'” along with alleging that Hall was delivering a false narrative to county residents and slandering government officials.
If you were still doubting Kunasek’s resolve, then let me point you to this wonderful nugget from the Republic’s story on the matter.
As Kunasek delivered the letter to the team, he directed a profanity-laced storm at Hall, calling on owner Ken Kendrick to “take your stupid baseball team and get out” and go back to “f–king West Virginia,” according to team notes that Kunasek does not dispute.
To his credit, Kunasek did apologize for his word choice, but stood by the overarching sentiment of his actions.
“I’m very passionate about the issues here. As a steward of the taxpayer, I’m deeply offended and continue to be,” he added. “I apologize for any bad language I probably shouldn’t have used, but I’m not going to deny it. I won’t do it again.”
Hall responded in turn with a more measured approach, but still continued to threaten Kunasek with the possibility of relocation. For now, the two sides are yet again gridlocked.
However, this dynamic could be shifting in the future. Kunasek said he will not run for re-election later this year, and for better or worse, the next man or woman in his seat might not be so strong willed.