D-backs reach settlement with Maricopa County over Chase Field

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -

After a lengthy dispute and negotiation, the D-backs have reached an agreement with Maricopa County over the future of Chase Field that, among other things, would give the franchise the immediate right to explore rebuilding Chase Field or moving to another site.

The two sides have reached a memorandum of understanding that ends the legal battle and requires the county to add no further taxpayer dollars to the facility. The Diamondbacks would have complete control of Chase Field and the team would have to play at Chase for at least five more seasons unless a new facility is ready elsewhere in Maricopa County, which the county termed “unlikely.”

[RELATED: Judge orders arbitration in D-backs lawsuit over stadium]

“We are hopeful that this proposed memorandum of understanding will lead to the end of the long, arduous negotiation regarding the future of Chase Field,” said Ken Kendrick, D-backs managing general partner. “We believe this will provide the best opportunity for the D-backs to remain in Arizona for the long term. Our primary focus remains the team on the field and providing our fans with the best experience in all of baseball.”

[RELATED: MLB commish weighs in on D-backs stadium dispute]

Under the deal, the D-backs are free to start having discussions about relocation. If the team reaches an agreement to play outside of Maricopa County after the 2022 season, the team owes the county a buyout of up to $25 million. The buyout decreases by $5 million a season after 2022, with the D-backs agreement with the County running through 2027.

[READ MORE: County on Diamondbacks: ‘We’re not sure what they’re after’]

The ballclub would drop its lawsuit, filed in January of last year against the Maricopa County Stadium District, contending that a minimum of $187 million is needed for repairs and upgrades at the ballpark.

[READ: D-backs sue Maricopa County over Chase Field lease (Jan. 3, 2017)]

The agreement must be approved by the stadium district’s board of directors, with a public meeting on the issue scheduled for Monday.

The agreement was the result of arbitration, with Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Peter Swann acting as mediator.

“It is in the district’s strongest interest to keep the team at the stadium, or at least in Maricopa County,” the memorandum said.

[RELATED: County leader tells D-Backs: 'Take your stupid team and get out' (Aug. 9, 2016)]

According to the background in the memorandum, Maricopa County taxpayers invested $238 million in the ballpark and the Diamondbacks “well over $100 million.” There is no debt on the building.

The public is invited to comment on the proposal is scheduled for May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Auditorium at 205 W. Jefferson. St.  A public vote is scheduled for May 9. Anyone interested in commenting can email stadiumcomments@mail.maricopa.gov or call 602-506-2255 specifically for this issue.

The Diamondbacks released the following statement:

“We are hopeful that this proposed memorandum of understanding will lead to the end of the long, arduous negotiation regarding the future of Chase Field. We believe this will provide the best opportunity for the D-backs to remain in Arizona for the long term. Our primary focus remains the team on the field and providing our fans with the best experience in all of baseball.”

Ken Kendrick, D-backs managing general partner

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