The Arizona Diamondbacks dispute with Maricopa County may have reached a critical stage Tuesday. An attorney for the club claims that officials at Major League Baseball are “very concerned” about the state of Chase Field, and could force the team to relocate unless the county pays for repairs, according to Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic.
The team’s attorney, Leo Beus, told a Superior Court judge Tuesday the Diamondbacks are “facing a crisis.” And if a ruling isn’t reached soon, MLB might force the club to move.
“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 battle between the Diamondbacks and Maricopa County has been ongoing since last March. That’s when the team announced it would like to break its lease and seek a new stadium. The Diamondbacks reportedly asked for $65 million from the county to make repairs. That request was denied, and the team decided to sue the county in hopes of ending its lease.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Beus brought up two incidents that occurred in June to convince the judge to act quickly on a ruling: A sanitation pipe bursting and an air conditioning system failing during a power outage. MLB engineers will reportedly visit Chase Field to assess the situation, according to Beus.
The attorney for Maricopa County says the Diamondbacks are on the hook for those incidents, as they are “the facility manager.” He added that the team is making sure those issues reach the public in order to paint Maricopa County as “horrible landlords.” He also mentioned that the team did not bring up either incident with the county after they occurred.
The judge involved is deciding whether to hold a trial or send the case to arbitration. The Diamondbacks are hoping for the latter, as it typically leads to a faster conclusion. Judge Karen Mullins told the Arizona Republic she will make that decision in two weeks.
Chase Field opened in 1998. The stadium’s lease with Maricopa County prohibits the team from looking for a new stadium until 2024.
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