The Diamondbacks are bringing Major League Baseball into their ongoing attempt to fleece taxpayers out of more money to get a new ballpark. An attorney for the D-backs is claiming that MLB has claimed that if they don’t get a new ballpark or major upgrades to their current park, the league “might” force the team to leave Phoenix entirely!
OK, so let’s back up. The Diamondbacks’ ballpark opened in 1998 for their inaugural season. The team received $238 million in public funds to build it, and it is, by most accounts, a fine place to watch a ballgame. But the team filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County in January of this year. The team wants out of their lease with the county, which doesn’t expire until 2028. And it’s making some pretty ballsy arguments.
The Arizona Republic writes:
Leo Beus, an attorney for the team, raised the MLB specter as he argued to a Superior Court judge that the case should be decided quickly because the team is “facing a crisis.”
“Major League Baseball ... they’re very, very concerned,” Beus said, noting he has spoken with six of the league’s top lawyers. “If Major League Baseball decides they want to create issues for us, there might not be baseball at all in Arizona.”
“We’d like to keep the franchise in place, we’d like to make peace with Major League Baseball, not that we’re at war,” he continued. “We don’t know where that’s going to come out. They’re very concerned.”
The issues here, which the team reportedly says will require “millions of dollars” in taxpayer money, are a burst pipe, and an incident in which the park’s air-conditioning system went out during a wider power outage.
Beus said, according to the Republic, that fans “had to sit in warm indoor temperatures.” The horror.
Look, yes, these incidents are inconvenient and frustrating, but it’s not exactly like they’re playing in knee-deep poo water in Oakland.
The burst pipe and AC outage are very obviously lame examples to argue the ballpark is falling apart at the seams. It’s a tactic right out of the classic playbook for greedy sports teams: Get a new ballpark with more modern amenities, attract more fans, make sure it’s paid for by taxpayers, line the owners’ pockets even more substantially.
It doesn’t look like Maricopa County is buying the bullshit the Diamondbacks and, allegedly, Major League Baseball, are peddling:
“This (lawsuit) has nothing to do with the water leaks and the merits of Chase Field,” said [Cameron Artigue, a private attorney representing Maricopa County]. “The Diamondbacks are the facility manager. When a pipe breaks, that is a Diamondbacks problem. And that is, in fact, what happened. They got out the mops and they mopped it up, and life goes on. It’s a big facility and sometimes pipes break. So what?”
There was a court hearing yesterday on the team’s lawsuit against the county, and the case could possibly go to arbitration. Of course, the D-backs have something to say about that, too:
Grady Gammage Jr., also representing the county, said depositions could take months, leading to a start date for arbitration in February or beyond.
That’s too long for the Diamondbacks and MLB to wait, Beus argued.
The Diamondbacks love Phoenix, you see. They’d never hold fans hostage for more public subsidies. They’re merely trying to avoid being forced by big, bad, MLB to flee Phoenix in the middle of the night this offseason, a la the Baltimore Colts. Must’ve been a pretty big puddle.