Chase Field Deal
On January 3, 2017 the Arizona Diamondbacks filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Stadium District (District). The Maricopa County Stadium District Board of Directors disagrees with the allegations stated in the lawsuit. The current lease requires the Diamondbacks to play at Chase Field through the 2027 baseball season.
Maricopa County's Position
Maricopa County believes the Diamondbacks are a huge asset to the community and we value their presence in downtown Phoenix. At its core, the disagreement is about how money is spent on the physical facility. The contracts between the Diamondbacks and Maricopa County explicitly call for this kind of dispute to be arbitrated between the parties, not resolved in an expensive court fight. Therefore, as required by the contracts, the District has moved to dismiss the Diamondbacks' lawsuit and refer their complaint to arbitration.
The bargain was: We, the taxpayers of Maricopa County, build the Diamondbacks a stadium and the Team promises to play in it through 2027. The taxpayers and the District have upheld our side of the bargain and we will do everything we can to ensure that the Diamondbacks live up to theirs. This lawsuit is a betrayal of the taxpayers’ investment and the Team’s promise.
Frequently Asked Questions
How was Chase Field funded?
Taxpayers contributed $238 million dollars toward the construction of the stadium. The Diamondbacks paid approximately $115 million toward the construction of the stadium. The stadium is paid off. The County and the taxpayers are not carrying any debt on the stadium.
Who owns Chase Field?
The Maricopa County Stadium District (District), a tax-levying public improvement arm of Maricopa County, owns and operates the stadium. The Diamondbacks pay rent to the District to play at Chase Field. The team and the District signed a series of contracts that outline the responsibilities of each party.
Who is responsible for what?
According to the contracts, which were signed by both parties, operation, maintenance, and repairs are the Diamondbacks' responsibility, unless a repair meets a specific definition of a “capital repair.” If a capital repair is needed, then a special reserve fund can be used. Fan amenities and upgrades to the fan experience (suites, scoreboards, etc.) are the responsibility of the Diamondbacks.
What is a capital repair?
Generally speaking, capital repairs are repairs to the stadium that ensure and extend the life of the facility. The capital repairs are the big projects that keep the stadium sound. Capital repairs do not include regular, preventative maintenance, or fan enhancement replacements, or additions that are also used for marketing or advertising.
Who pays for capital repairs?
The original contracts set up a reserve fund to pay for capital repairs. Funding from the Diamondbacks rent and other events goes into this fund, which is managed jointly by the District and the Diamondbacks. No taxpayer money is spent on capital repair projects.
Who decides what gets repaired and when?
According to the contract, both the Diamondbacks and the District have to approve any money spent from the reserve fund.
The District has spent nearly $20 million on capital repairs through March 2017. This includes replacing and waterproofing steel, fixing broken concrete, and rebuilding a structural system called a Dywidag. The Diamondbacks have alleged that the structural system has not been maintained.
View a breakdown of the District’s spending.
The spending breakdown shows the District has also funded amenities and enhancements to Chase Field. Wasn’t that the Diamondbacks' responsibility?
The Diamondbacks have, at times, asked the District Board of Directors to use money from the reserve fund to pay for enhancements that were not "capital repairs", such as a new $10 million scoreboard. The District Board has generally agreed to fund these projects on a one-time basis as part of its commitment to helping the Diamondbacks succeed.
Is the District required to maintain the stadium as a "state of the art" facility?
The term "state of the art" is not the standard of maintenance used in the contracts. In fact, "state of the art" was purposely left out of the contracts governing the relationship between the District and the Diamondbacks. The contracts state that Chase Field must meet "applicable government requirements," in relation to building codes and general maintenance standards.
Does the stadium really need $185 million in repairs?
A 2013 assessment indicated Chase Field might need $185 million in possible repairs over the remaining life of the lease (through 2027). Of that, approximately $35-45 million may be capital repairs since they are related to structural integrity. The remainder falls into the Maintenance and Fan Enhancement categories. Maintenance and Fan Enhancement are not "capital repairs". Maintenance and Fan Enhancement clearly fall within the responsibilities of the Team. The 2013 assessment describes the overall condition of Chase Field as "Excellent".
The District is committed to a systematic approach
To ensure the highest quality of work at the lowest cost, the District breaks these projects up into smaller projects. Not all of the $35-45 million worth of work will be done at once. Working in this systematic fashion, the District anticipates the reserve fund (which will have a balance of $15,946,931 at the end of FY 2016-17) will have enough money to cover all capital repair projects over the life of the lease, so long as the Diamondbacks keep paying the same rent. Recently, the District has spent an average of $4 million per year on repairs. The District has been committed to a long-term approach toward capital repairs since day one and remains so to this day.
Water damage from pressure washing. The original concept for the stadium did not contemplate this cleaning method. The Diamondbacks (through its facility manager) made the decision to begin power washing the stadium after games rather than using a mop and bucket method, which some other MLB teams use. As seen in the photographs on the right, this decision has had consequences. The use of pressurized water and the lack of maintenance of expansion and caulk joints, over time, has led to infiltration and corrosion.
After a 2011 assessment began to reveal the extent of this water damage, the District, in partnership with the Diamondbacks, took a proactive approach in prioritizing fixes that not only mitigate damage but ensure the structural integrity of Chase Field for decades.
The lawsuit claims the District is not making enough money from outside event-booking to fund necessary repairs.
This statement is not true. Revenue from outside events was never intended to be the primary source of funding for capital repairs. In fact, the Diamondbacks were the original booker of non-baseball events at Chase Field but decided to trade away the rights to the District in return for real estate management rights.
In June, a pipe that distributes chilled water throughout Chase Field burst. The team's lawyer cited this as evidence of a maintenance "crisis" at the stadium. Who is responsible for fixing this issue?
The team, as facility manager, is responsible for the pipe and the clean-up. In 2000, the team (as AZPB FM Limited Partnership) entered into an agreement with a third party vendor to provide chilled water service at Chase Field. Under that agreement, the facility manager is required to maintain the piping, machinery, and equipment that is used to distribute chilled water within the ballpark. The Stadium District is not a party to the Chilled Water Service Agreement (CWSA). The "consent and agreement" related to the CWSA states no money from the special account the District reserves for capital repairs can be used to pay for repairs to the chilled water distribution system or the ballpark cooling equipment.
In short, this is a red herring. Leaks at Chase Field have nothing to do with the lawsuit the Diamondbacks have filed against the District.
Why are the Diamondbacks suing Maricopa County?
Frankly, we are not sure. The lawsuit asks that they
Last year, the Diamondbacks wanted to take over full control of the stadium. This year, they sued the District to get out of the contract. The Diamondbacks have indicated they would like to find a new "partner" to replace the District, but when the District brought in such a potential partner, the Diamondbacks would not meet with them.
The most important thing to the District is that that the Diamondbacks live up to their commitment to the taxpayers and continue to play at Chase Field through the term of the contract, which is through the 2027 baseball season.