Deal to sell Chase Field dead after investors back out

Martin Greenberg, the lawyer for the investors, said in the letter that communication with the Diamondbacks was the primary reason for the cancellation of the sale. (Craig Johnson/DD)

The potential sale of Chase Field from Maricopa County to a group of Delaware-based investors has been cancelled, according to a letter sent by a lawyer for the investors.

In a statement via email, county officials said they were disappointed with the outcome.

“Board members always looked at this as an opportunity to put the stadium in the hands of private developers who could meet team demands for upgrades, and it is disappointing to see it vanish,” the statement said.

Martin Greenberg, the lawyer for the investors, said in the letter that communication with the Diamondbacks was the primary reason for the cancellation of the sale.

“As you (Maricopa County) are aware, despite numerous requests over the past 3 months, the Diamondbacks have refused to meet with us,” Greenberg says in the letter.

Greenberg goes on to say the Diamondbacks refused to meet with the investors unless they satisfied such conditions as “seeing evidence of its (the investor group’s) financial condition, funding sources, corporate structure, business plan, and other proprietary information.”

With the deal dead, both Maricopa County and the team will pay the $187 million the Diamondbacks say is needed to repair the stadium, according to the letter. The figure was considered “greatly exaggerated” and a much lower amount projected by the county in the past was cited.

“We have satisfied ourselves that the costs of repairing the remaining structural issues affecting the Stadium are more in-line with your published projections of approximately $80 million, rather than what we believe to be the greatly exaggerated amount of $187 million espoused by the Diamondbacks,” Greenberg said.

The sale was agreed upon between Maricopa County and the investors in August, through a letter of intent. The deal would have sold the stadium for $60 million, compared to the $253 million it cost taxpayers to build in the late 1990s.

Maricopa Communications Director Fields Moseley said the county is still committed to keeping the Diamondbacks in Chase Field through the end of its current contract, which expires in 2028.

“We would expect the Diamondbacks to be playing at Chase Field at least that long and we hope longer,” Moseley said. “But certainly this private investor has decided that it wasn’t worth it to continue pursuing this agreement.”

Moseley said he hopes this experience will help smooth over the tense relationship between the county and the team. The two have been feuding since Diamondbacks owner Derrick Hall sent a letter to the county requesting to be released from the team’s contract to stay in Chase Field through 2028.

“We hope the relationship between us as the landlord and the Diamondbacks as the tenant improves drastically after this experience,” Moseley said. “We wanted to have the opportunity to talk with the team, but that just wasn’t available, and we thought a third party might elevate that conversation and perhaps get us back on equal footing.”

Moseley said the county is still looking to generate a conversation with the team as chairman Clint Hickman attempted to in May, before the deal from the investors was on the table.

“The board remains open to any communications or discussions with business people within the Diamondbacks organization,” Moseley said.

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