SBD/July 23, 2012/Franchises

D'Backs Propose Chase Field Ownership Transfer From County To City Of Phoenix

City ownership of Chase Field could help boost revenue for D'Backs
The D'Backs are "proposing a deal that would give them more control of Chase Field and significantly increase their bottom line by transferring stadium ownership from Maricopa County to Phoenix," according to Craig Harris of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Team execs said that the plan "benefits all involved, but a key critic cast the deal as financially risky for city taxpayers and said it would lead to higher ticket prices for fans." The execs said that transferring control of the ballpark would "allow the Diamondbacks to stage more non-baseball events to boost revenue." D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that his team is "not seeking a government subsidy for the facility." He said that the D'Backs "already pay for stadium maintenance and capital improvements." Shifting ballpark management "would give the team more say in the facility's management." The team would pay Phoenix rent, "the amount of which has not been determined." The D'Backs "no longer would have to make roughly $4 million in annual rent and maintenance payments to the county stadium district." However, former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza said that city residents, "could end up paying for renovations expected to be needed in the next several years." He added that it "might cost fans more to see games because the Diamondbacks, with greater control of the stadium, would be allowed to remove some of the nearly 50,000 seats, then raise prices when ticket demand increased at the smaller facility." Hall acknowledged that the D'Backs would "like to eventually reduce capacity," but it "is not driving current discussions." He added that the D'Backs "cannot make any major renovations at Chase Field without approval from the stadium district, which controls a capital-improvement account funded entirely by the team" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/21).
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