PHOENIX >> Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred came down on the side of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ownership in the team’s court battle over Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks have sued Maricopa County, seeking to remove a clause from its stadium lease that prevents the team from looking to move elsewhere.
The team contends in the lawsuit that the county has failed to allocate some $187 million for maintenance and improvements at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.
Manfred, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, said that “to be a major league-quality stadium,” Chase Field “needs work.”
The county has asked that the suit be dismissed and the matter sent to arbitration.
Team owner Ken Kendrick said last week that the team will not go to arbitration to resolve the dispute.
“The public’s money is at stake, our money is at stake, and if there is a dispute or debate it ought to be in public in front of a judge and not in private in arbitration,” he said.
Manfred said he had been in communication with Kendrick before the lawsuit was filed.
“We take very seriously the obligation to have a major league-quality facility in each and every market,” the commissioner said.
“It’s absolutely clear from the material that’s been made available to me there are serious maintenance needs that need to be met with respect to the stadium.”
Chase Field is 19 years old and the Diamondbacks’ lease requires the team to play there until 2028.
“Chase Field is every bit the major league-quality facility fans have come to expect over the past 18 seasons,” Maricopa County spokesman Fields Moseley said in a statement Tuesday, noting that millions of dollars have been spent on concrete and steel repairs.