The Arizona sports fan can plug one hole and another will open. After dropping $150 million of taxpayer money on renovations for the Suns’ Talking Stick Resort, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB2835 to fund a $400 to $500 million refurbishment for the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field. This time, the money comes from a tax on anything and everything baseball-related rather than directly from the taxpayer; however, tickets, concessions, and merchandise could see up to a 9% increase.
The selective tax rings good news for the non-baseball fan but bad news for $5 beers. On the bright side, the Diamondbacks still rank as one of the more affordable fan experiences in Major League Baseball. Club President Derrick Hall announced, “I’m not sure we’re going to [use the tax mechanism], but it’s sure nice to know we’re able to.” That notwithstanding, it would seem unrealistic to expect the team to not utilize the tax as the team struggled with attendance and revenue even before the pandemic.
No More Diamondbacks?
For a region continually dealing with rumors of the Coyotes heading for greener pastures, the D-backs deal does make a move less likely. Nevertheless, the baseball team continues to assess their options, including fielding offers from Las Vegas. Despite signing a lease through 2027, the team earned the right to leave early thanks to a 2018 lawsuit against Maricopa County over who should pay for maintenance and upgrades to the facility.
For now, there are no plans to leave Arizona. Nearby Scottsdale and Tempe aren’t viable options without serious substantial funding. “We’ve been looking for a way to stay here. We love the history. We love the building. We love downtown,” said Hall. Of all things, size appears to be an issue. As Hall stated, “One thing that would need to be addressed is the capacity. It’s way too large. We need to bring our ballpark into modern times.”
No Crying Poverty
Even though according to public records, the Diamondbacks lost $144 million over the past two years, any cries of hardship should fall on deaf ears. Forbes evaluated the team at $1.32 billion, which looks like an amazing investment considering the current ownership group only paid a paltry $130 million for expansion fees in 1998. As Club President Hall announced, “For me, with no rush, I would like to say that within the next year to two years I’d like to have a good understanding of where we’re going to be.”
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