Possible Chase Field Sale

More from this show

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced a special meeting to be held to discuss selling Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, with a minimum starting bid of $60 million. This comes after heightened acrimony between the supervisors and the d-backs over improvements requested by the team for the stadium. Rebekah Sanders, a reporter for the Arizona Republic who covers county issues, will tell us more.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON: MARICOPA COUNTY CONSIDERS SELLING CHASE FIELD. ALSO TONIGHT: WE'LL LOOK AT WHY HOUSING STARTS IN THE VALLEY ARE ON THE INCREASE. AND WE'LL HEAR ABOUT A NEW STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF ROAD DEBRIS ON VEHICLE ACCIDENTS. THOSE STORIES NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON.

ANNOUNCER: ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF THE PBS STATION. THANK YOU.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON, I'M TED SIMONS. WE BEGIN TONIGHT ON A SAD NOTE: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, THE LONG TIME HOST OF PBS'S "THE MCLAUGLIN GROUP," HAS DIED AT THE AGE OF 89. JOHN MCLAUGHLIN WAS AN ORDAINED PRIEST AND TAUGHT AT A JESUIT PREP SCHOOL BEFORE GETTING INTO POLITICS AND RUNNING UNSUCCESSFULLY FOR THE U.S. SENATE. HE LATER WORKED AS A SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON AND WROTE FOR THE NATIONAL REVIEW. THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP DEBUTED ON PBS IN 1982 AND USHERED IN A NEW FORM OF CONFRONTATIONAL TALK SHOW, THOUGH ALMOST ALWAYS WITH A TWINKLE IN THE HOST'S EYES. JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, DEAD, AT THE AGE OF 89. THE MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT IT WILL DISCUSS THE IDEA OF SELLING CHASE FIELD IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX AT A SPECIAL MEETING SET FOR TOMORROW. THE ANNOUNCEMENT COMES AFTER A LONG SIMMERING FEUD BETWEEN THE COUNTY AND THE DIAMONDBACKS OVER IMPROVEMENTS TO THE STADIUM REQUESTED BY THE TEAM. JOINING US NOW IS REBEKAH SANDERS, WHO COVERS THE COUNTY FOR THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.
REBEKAH SANDERS: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
TED SIMONS: THIS IS LIKE A LITTLE BOMBSHELL DROPPING HERE. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

REBEKAH SANDERS: WE HAVE HEARD SOME RUMBLINGS SOMETHING MIGHT BE HAPPENING ALONG THE LINES THIS WEEK BUT THE COUNTY WAS TIGHT LIPPED AND THEN IT EXPLODED INTO VIEW AS WE GOT THE AGENDA FOR TOMORROW'S MEETING AND THE COUNTY IS LOOKING TO SELL THE BASEBALL STADIUM TO PRIVATE INVESTORS FROM OUT OF TOWN AND GET THIS ELEPHANT OFF THEIR, YOU KNOW, OUT OF THE ROOM. THEY HAVE HAD TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE DIAMONDBACKS WITH TENS OF MILLIONS IN REPAIRS AND ITS BEEN QUITE A HEADED.

TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE THE MINIMUM BID IS $60 MILLION-- AND YOU ARE SAYING THERE IS A TARGETING GROUP BUT IT IS NOT JUST, HEY, THERE IS A FOR SALE SIGN ON CHASE FIELD BUT THEY HAVE A GROUP THAT IS INTERESTED AND THEY WILL START NEGOTIATIONS TOMORROW.

REBEKAH SANDERS: RIGHT. IT SOUND LIKE THERE IS A SPECIFIC GROUP OF INVESTORS POTENTIALLY SOME FROM TORONTO, ATLANTA, NEW YORK, BUT IT IS NOT REALLY CLEAR EXACTLY WHO HAS ALREADY TALKED WITH THE COUNTY AND EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN PURCHASING THE STADIUM.

TED SIMONS: ANY WORD IF KEN KENDRICK IS INVOLVED IN THIS GROUP?

REBEKAH SANDERS: WE DON'T BELIEVE SO. THE LETTER FROM THE INVESTORS SAYS THEY HAVE NO RELATION TO THE DIAMONDBACKS OR ANYONE WITHIN INTEREST WITH THE DIAMONBACKS.

TED SIMONS: JERRY COLANGELO, HIS NAME AT ALL?

REBEKAH SANDERS: WHO KNOWS-- IT COULD BE ANYBODY'S GUESS.

TED SIMONS: WHY WOULD THE COUNTY YOU, I, AND THE REST OF US PAID $230 SOME ODD MILLION FOR THE BASEBALL STADIUM, IF THE MINIMUM BID IS $60 AND I CANNOT IMAGINE IT IS LIKE THE OPEN DOORS OF WALMART ON BLACK FRIDAY. NOT A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE WILL BE BITTING ON THIS THING. IT IS SELLING FOR $60 MILLION WHY IS THE COUNTY DOING THIS?

REBEKAH SANDERS: THEY ARE STARRING DOWN THE BARREL OF A POTENTIAL LAWSUIT FROM THE DIAMONDBACKS OVER WHAT COULD BE AS MUCH AS $187 MILLION IN REPAIRS. THEY DISPUTE THAT NUMBER OR DISPUTE THAT THE COUNTY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT ALL BUT IT IS STILL THERE LOOMING. YOU KNOW, THEY WOULD BE GETTING $60 MILLION THEY WOULDN'T HAVE EXPECTED TO GET OUT OF THIS STADIUM. AND POTENTIALLY IF THE INVESTORS AGREE TO MAKE THESE REPAIRS AND THE TEAM AGREES IT TAKES THE RESPONSIBILITY OFF THE COUNTY.
TED SIMONS: THE COUNTY RIDS ITSELF OF A PROBLEM. A WIDE ELEPHANT SITTING THERE WITH A ROOF OVER ITS HEAD. THAT IS WHY THE COUNTY WOULD SELL. WHY WOULD A GROUP OF INVESTORS-- KNOWING WHAT THE COUNTY HAS GONE THROUGH. THE COUNTY IS NOT MAKING ANY MONEY OFF OF THIS THING. WHY WOULD A GROUP OF INVESTORS WANT TO BUY THIS?

REBEKAH SANDERS: THE LETTER FROM THE INVESTORS TO THE COUNTY SAID THEY WANT TO CREATE A SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. THIS HAS BEEN A PROPOSAL THAT EVEN THE DIAMONDBACKS TALKED ABOUT PREVIOUSLY. LOOK, WE COULD DO MORE WITH DOWNTOWN'S REVIVAL TO CREATE MORE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS AND DRIVE MORE BUSINESS DOWN HERE IF WE COORDINATED EFFORTS AND ESPECIALLY IF, AS THE DIAMONDBACKS PROPOSE, THE CITY OF PHOENIX TOOK OVER THE STADIUM AND COULD ISSUE BONDS TO BUILD SOME OF THIS SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT. SO WOULD THE INVESTORS HAVE SOME WAY TO WORK WITH THE CITY OF PHOENIX? MAYBE. OR MAYBE THEY HAVE INTEREST IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS DOWNTOWN. WHO KNOWS? MAYBE THEY WOULD EVEN BE INTERESTED IN TEARING DOWN CHASE FIELD AND BUILDING A NEW ONE.

TED SIMONS: WHAT THE DIAMONDBACKS GET A SWEETHEART DEAL AT A RESERVATION IN TOWN? THESE INVESTORS BOUGHT IT FOR $60 MILLION WHO WILL THEY RENOVATE IT FOR? TURN IT INTO A BASEBALL AND HOCKEY ARENA, COULD THEY NOT?

REBEKAH SANDERS: THAT IS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN TALKED ABOUT AS THE COYOTES ARE FRUSTRATED IN GLENDALE AND THERE IS TALK ABOUT COMBINING THE COYOTES WITH THE SUNS. IT IS DIFFICULT TO PROVIDE A STADIUM AND HOCKEY BUT MAYBE A DUAL ARENA STADIUM POSSIBILITY. THIS IS SPECULATION. WE ARE TRYING TO GET DETAILS AND TO LEARN MORE.

TED SIMONS: ANY REACTION FROM THE DIAMONDBACKS?

REBEKAH SANDERS: THEY ARE STAYING TIGHT LIPPED FOR NOW BUT SEEMS LIKE THEY WERE CAUGHT AS SURPRISED AS EVERYBODY ELSE WAS. THEY SAY THEY ARE EVALUATING THE AGREEMENT.

TED SIMONS: ANY REACTION FROM GREG STANTON OR THE PHOENIX CITY GOVERNMENT?

REBEKAH SANDERS: WE HAVEN'T HEARD FROM THEM BUT THE MAYOR SAID HE IS READY TO WORK AN ANY DEAL THAT KEEPS THE DIAMONDBACKS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX.

TED SIMONS: AS FOR AS KEEPING THE DIAMONDBACKS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX, IF WE HAVE A CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP, TERMS OF THE LEASE? DIAMONDBACKS ARE SUPPOSED TO STAY THERE UNDER 2027 UNDER A VARIETY OF TERMS SOME WHEN THEY HAVE A PROBLEM REGARDING INTERPRETATION WITH THE COUNTY. THEY WILL NOW HAVE TO DEAL THAT INTERPRETATION WITH A NEW SET OF INVESTORS BUT ARE THEY STILL CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO CARRY FORWARD WITH THE LEASE?

REBEKAH SANDERS: THE COUNTY SAYS THEY WILL NOT SIGN AN AGREEMENT WITH THE INVESTORS UNLESS IT KEEPS THE ORIGINAL TERMS OF THE LEASE. KEEPING THE DIAMONDBACKS AT CHASE FIELD FOR THE NEXT DOZEN YEARS-- IF NOT BEYOND AND OTHER THINGS LIKE KEEPING A COUNTY SUITE USED BY A NON PROFIT AND OTHER PROVISIONS THE COUNTY SAYS ARE IMPORTANT.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE BEEN COVERING THE STORY FROM A VARIETY OF ANGLES AND THIS FELT LIKE IT CAME OUT OF THE BLUE. DID IT FEEL LIKE THAT TO YOU?

REBEKAH SANDERS: IT IS A VERY SURPRISING PROPOSAL. ONE THAT MIGHT BE UNIQUE IN THE COUNTRY BECAUSE IT IS VERY RARE, IF NOT UNPRECEDENTED, FOR INVESTORS TO CONTROL THE STADIUM THAT A SPORTS TEAM PLAYS IN. IT IS USUALLY OWNED BY THE TEAM OR GOVERNMENT. SO THIS MIGHT BE BREAKING NEW GROUND.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, NO KIDDING. GOOD STUFF. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

REBEKAH SANDERS: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.♫♫♫

Rebekah Sanders: Reporter for the Arizona Republic

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 27

New and local

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: