Arizona Diamondbacks start looking for a new stadium as feud with county ends

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The feud between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Maricopa County has come to an end, and the team is now free to look for a new place to play or decide to stay at Chase Field.

The dispute began around six years ago when the D-backs said they needed $182 million for repairs to the stadium. The county disagreed. The team’s current contract states they must remain at Chase until 2022 and are not allowed to look for new stadiums. This latest agreement takes away the latter restriction.

“What we really voted on today was to strike that balance between taxpayer and the Arizona Diamondbacks,” Chairman of the Maricopa County Supervisors Steve Chucri says. “We were able to put this litigation behind us and to allow the team to move forward to potentially look for a new venue if they find one. It also takes the obligation off of the taxpayer and Maricopa County and set it with the team to run and manage the stadium.”

Related: D-Backs and Maricopa County reach agreement to allow team to look for new place to stay

Chucri says now both sides are willing to put the dispute behind them and work together as partners should. He says that by allowing the team to look around will hopefully get them to remain in Maricopa County and not go out of state.

However, if the team does choose to leave the county, Chucri says he thinks the vibrance of downtown won’t go anywhere. He says a group of people will gather around the table to decide what Chase Field 2.0 could be.

“I’m excited for the potential opportunities that could come if the team decides to move out,” Chucri says. “If they decide to stay, we welcome that as well.”

Chucri says that one of the reasons the debate lasted for so long was because they were dealing with a 500+ page document that was written 20 years ago. The problems of today weren’t described in the contract. Now, the county has agreed to give the team $35 million now and another $20 million at the end of their contract.

“There’s a responsibility on the team to spend it on the right issues and to also use it to bring money in to keep the stadium going, and we believe they’ll do that,” Chucri says.

 

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON, THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS CAN OFFICIALLY START LOOKING FOR A NEW STADIUM. ALSO TONIGHT: DEMOCRATIC LEADERS GIVE "THEIR" VIEW OF THE RECENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION. AND HOW RESEARCHERS ARE WORKING ON A REMARKABLE NEW TEST TO CHECK YOUR HEALTH. THOSE STORIES AND MORE, NEXT, ON ARIZONA HORIZON.

PROMO: "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF ARIZONA HIGHWAYS MAGAZINE. ESCAPE, EXPLORE, EXPERIENCE, AND BY THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE FRIENDS OF 8, MEMBERS OF YOUR ARIZONA PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON. I'M TED SIMONS. THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTS THAT DOZENS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE. THE REPUBLIC'S ANALYSIS FOUND THAT CHARTER OPERATORS REPRESENTING 138-SCHOOLS FAILED 3-OF-4 MEASURES THAT RATE FINANCIAL HEALTH BASED IN PART ON INCOME AND CASH FLOW, WITH 62-SCHOOLS FAILING ALL FOUR MEASURES. AUDITORS REPORT THAT 41 CHARTER SCHOOLS WERE IN DANGER OF CLOSING WITHIN A YEAR. CHARTER SCHOOLS IN ARIZONA ARE PUBLICLY FUNDED BUT PRIVATELY OWNED. THE LEGAL DISPUTE BETWEEN MARICOPA COUNTY AND THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS REGARDING IMPROVEMENTS TO CHASE FIELD IS OVER. THE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TODAY APPROVED A DEAL THAT TAKES THE COUNTY OFF THE HOOK FOR OVER A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS IN STADIUM REPAIRS, BUT ALSO ALLOWS THE DIAMONDBACKS TO IMMEDIATELY START LOOKING FOR A NEW STADIUM. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAIRMAN STEVE CHUCRI HELPED BROKER THE AGREEMENT, HE JOINS US NOW. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

STEVE CHUCRI: NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

TED SIMONS: 4-1 VOTE. WHAT DID THE BOARD VOTE TO DO TODAY?

STEVE CHUCRI: WE DID A LOT OF THINGS. I THINK WE VOTED TO STRIKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TAXPAYER AND DIAMONDBACKS AND ALLOW THE TEAM TO MOVE FORWARD TO LOOK FOR A NEW VENUE SHOULD THEY FIND ONE, TAKE THE OBLIGATION OFF OF THE TAXPAYER, OFF OF MARICOPA COUNTY AND GIVE IT TO THE TEAM TO MANAGE THE STADIUM.

TED SIMONS: YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY LETTING THE TEAM OUT OF THE LEASE FIVE YEARS EARLY. WHY?

STEVE CHUCRI: THEY HAVE TO BE THERE FIVE MORE YEARS TO 25 YEARS. PART OF THE DISPUTE IS THEY BELIEVE $185 MILLION NEEDED TO GO INTO THE STADIUM. WE DISAGREED. THAT HAS BEEN A CONTENTIOUS FIGHT FOR YEARS. WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO WITH TODAY'S DECISION IS PUT THAT IN THE PAST AND WORK AS A PARTNERSHIP SHOULD WORK. TAXPAYERS OWN CHASE FIELD, THE REAL ESTATE. IF THAT MEANS LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY BUT BASEBALL STAYS IN MARICOPA COUNTY, THAT'S A RISK WE ARE TAKING V. FORCING THEM TO LOOK OUTSIDE THE STATE. IT KEEPS BASEBALL IN MARICOPA COUNTY.

TED SIMONS: THE RENAISSANCE DOWNTOWN PHOENIX, SOME WOULD SAY THE BALLPARK WAS IN THE START OF THAT. WHAT HAPPENS IF DIAMOND BACKS FIND A NEW SPOT AND MOVE TO THE NEW SPOT IN MARICOPA COUNTY?

STEVE CHUCRI: I BELIEVE THE VIE BRANCE OF DOWNTOWN PHOENIX WILL CONTINUE. IF THE TEAM MOVES OUT, I BELIEVE BASEBALL WILL STAY IN MARICOPA COUNTY, WHICH IS KEY TO UNDERSTAND. WHAT COMES BEHIND, WHAT CHASE FIELD 2.0 MIGHT BE, WE'LL DISCUSS THAT SHOULD THE TEAM DECIDE TO MOVE ON, SO I'M NOT WORRIED. GIVEN ALL THAT'S HAPPENED THE TAXPAYERS HAVE A WONDERFUL ASSET AND I'M EXCITED ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT COULD COME IF THE TEAM MOVES OUT. IF THEY STAY, THAT'S WELCOME AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: HAVE YOU TALKED TO THE MAYOR ABOUT THE REACTION?

STEVE CHUCRI: THE COUNTY HAS. THEY HAD A FRONT ROW SEAT AT THE LITIGATION AND DISPUTE FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. IN SOME WAY THEY ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT THE POTENTIAL COULD BE KEEPING THE TEAM DOWNTOWN.

TED SIMONS: WHEN THIS STARTED, IT WAS ACRIMONIOUS, STRONG LANGUAGE IN BOS WAYS. THE COUNTY SEEMED NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REPAIRS OR COSMETIC CHANGES. WE SEE THE TEAM GETTING OUT OF THE CONTRACT EARLY, $22 MILLION AS FAR AS THE COUNTY BACKING THE DIAMOND BACKS. SOME SAY THE COUNTY REALIZED IT WASN'T ON THE STRONGEST OF LEGAL CONDITIONS.

STEVE CHUCRI: ONE SIDE WAS THROWING OUT NUMBERS. WE WERE THROWING OUT NUMBERS. WE HAD A 500 PAGE DOCUMENT 20 YEARS OLD. IF THAT WAS IRONCLAD, WE WOULDN'T HAVE HAD THE DISPUTE, RIGHT? IN MANY OTHER WAYS WE BELIEVE WHAT WE HAD IN THE AGREEMENT, WE WERE RIGHT ON. IF IT WAS CLEAR, WE WOULDN'T BE IN LITIGATION, BUT MONEY COMING IN, THEY'LL RUN THE FASTILTY. MONEY WILL COME IN THROUGH BOOKINGS AND OTHER THINGS, WE ARE NOT JUST SAYING DO AS YOU WISH. THERE IS A RESPONSIBILITY BY THE TEAM TO SPEND WISELY ON THE RIGHT ISSUES AND BRING MONEY IN. WE BELIEVE THEY'LL DO THAT.

TED SIMONS: FOR A RESIDENT THAT REMEMBERS WHEN THIS ALL STARTED, AND THEY HEAR THAT THE TEAM COULD MOVE IN FIVE YEARS, HOW DO YOU TELL THEM, THIS IS GOOD FOR THE COUNTY?

STEVE CHUCRI: RIGHT, AND I THINK MY PREDECESSORS WERE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY MANY DECADES AGO. JIM BRUNNER IS CREDITED FOR BRINGING BASEBALL TO MARICOPA COUNTY. I REACHED OUT TO HIM. THE CHARGE 20 YEARS AS WAS HOW TO BRING BASEBALL TO MARICOPA COUNTY. OUR IDEA WAS TO BRING IT 30 YEARS. THEY'LL PLAY 25 YEARS AT A MINIMUM. THE FACT THAT THEY MAY LEAVE A FEW YEARS EARLY, I DON'T THINK THE TAXPAYERS WILL GET TOO UPSET ABOUT THAT.

TED SIMONS: WAS IT THAT GOOD A DEAL THAT IT HAD WIGGLE ROOM?

STEVE CHUCRI: I THINK SO. IT WAS GOOD FOR THE TAXPAYER AND COMMUNITY AND FANS. THAT'S WHAT WE WERE FOCUSED ON, HOW DO WE PUT THE LITIGATION BEHIND US AND TAKE A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO KEEP BASEBALL IN ARIZONA. THAT'S WHAT THIS DOES WHILE PRESERVING THE ASSET FOR THE TAXPAYERS.

TED SIMONS: CRITICS TO HAVE THE DEAL INCLUDING A SUPERVISOR SAY A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT.

STEVE CHUCRI: RIGHT, AND MY COLLEAGUES AND I CAMPAIGNED ON BRINGING A BUSINESS MINDSET TO GOVERNMENT. THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE DONE. SOMETIMES THE AGREEMENTS DON'T MAKE SENSE. THIS WILL KEEP BASEBALL IN MARICOPA COUNTY. I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE.

TED SIMONS: THEY CAN PICK UP AND GO. IS THAT SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT?

STEVE CHUCRI: I DON'T THINK. COMPROMISE IS GIVING A LITTLE AND TAKING A LITTLE. DO I BELIEVE THEY'LL PICK UP TOMORROW AND LEAVE? I DON'T, ESPECIALLY WHEN I HAVE SEEN OTHER STADIUMS FAR WORSE SHAPE THAN CHASE FIELD LEAVE. IS IT A RISK? OF COURSE, BUT I BELIEVE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WILL BE HERE TO STAY.

TED SIMONS: RELIEF ON YOUR PART?

STEVE CHUCRI: MY COLLEAGUES AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: LATER ON ARIZONA HORIZON, HOW RESEARCHERS ARE WORKING ON A GROUNDBREAKING NEW HEALTH TEST. PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN HAVE FOR HEALTH IS EARLY DETECTION OF DISEASE.

Steve Chucri: Chairman, Maricopa County Supervisors

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