PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks filed suit Tuesday against Maricopa County to get out of the team's lease at taxpayer-owned Chase Field 11 years early.
D-Backs attorney Leo Beus said in a prepared statement that the team wasn't seeking any damages against the county or taxpayer funding for a new stadium. Beus said the team was asking to remove a contract clause so it could explore other stadium options.
“It is extremely unfortunate that we have been forced to take action today following several years of attempts to resolve this matter out of court," Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick said in a prepared statement.
"We have made a promise to our fans, who have been partners with us on the building of this stadium and our franchise, to provide the best experience in all of baseball in a safe and welcoming environment. The inability of the Maricopa County Stadium District to fulfill its commitments has left us with no other option."
Maricopa County Board Chairman Clint Hickman labeled the lawsuit's claims as "outrageous" and said the county was committed to keep the team at Chase Field until the lease ends:
“It is disappointing the Diamondbacks are suing their fans who helped build Chase Field. The team simply wants out of the contract that makes them stay and play through the 2028 season. Saying the facility is in disrepair is outrageous. The Maricopa County Stadium District has spent millions during the off-season on concrete and steel work that keeps the stadium safe and looking great for each baseball season.The Diamondbacks have expressed dissatisfaction with county ownership over the past year, yet when presented with a potential buyer last summer, the team didn’t have the courtesy to meet with them. It seems the team just wants a new stadium now. Maricopa County is committed to keeping the Diamondbacks at Chase Field through the term of the contract. That is good for the taxpayers who made the investment that brought major league baseball here.”
The lawsuit caps a fierce public battle between the the team and the county over the last year, stemming from a dispute over repairs and renovations at the stadium.
Last March, the Diamondbacks first demanded that the county let the team out of the lease.
The county refused and struck a tentative deal to sell the stadium to outside investors. That deal fell apart in November.
Chase Field opened in 1998; the Diamondbacks' lease ends in 2028. The taxpayer-owned stadium is debt-free.