PHOENIX >> Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred reiterated today the league stands behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in their lawsuit claiming Maricopa County is responsible for $187 million in repairs that team ownership feels are needed at Chase Field.
Manfred spoke at the ballpark and reaffirmed statements supporting the club that he made during spring training. He said for Chase Field to remain a major league-quality stadium, substantial capital expenditures must be made. He said if they aren’t, there may come a point when the franchise seeks an alternative home.
Manfred said Major League Baseball has reviewed studies of state-of-the-art ballparks and determined what is required in renovation and capital investment.
“We concur wholeheartedly with the Diamondbacks’ position that there are substantial needs here with respect to this stadium, to keep it as a major league-quality stadium,” Manfred said.
The Diamondbacks have sued the county, seeking to remove a clause from the team’s lease that prevents it from leaving the park, which opened in 1998. The team contends in the lawsuit that the county has failed to allocate enough funds for maintenance and improvements to keep the downtown stadium state-of-the-art through the end the lease in 2028.
County officials say many of the needed repairs are the team’s responsibility and that they will pay for their share of any safety improvements. The county stadium district has filed a countersuit to dismiss the Diamondbacks’ filing and asked for arbitration.
“It would be unusual for a tenant to be responsible for those sorts of capital repairs,” Manfred said.
Manfred also addressed the debate over beanings following recent spats. Baltimore and Boston recently exchanged a series of hit batsmen following an aggressive slide, and Washington slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland were recently suspended for their roles in a benches-clearing brawl after Strickland hit Harper with a fastball.
“I am a realist in the sense that I understand there are certain aspects of the game that you can’t change, even if you want to,” Manfred said, “and that you’re not going to eliminate retaliation from the baseball lexicon.”
He said the Baltimore-Boston and Washington-San Francisco incidents were beyond the norm for baseball retaliations.
“There’s something different about this bad blood that persists over a number of series, or even a number of years,” Manfred said. “In both of those situations, without singling anybody out, you had a pretty good indication that not everybody on the pitcher’s club was on board with the behavior.”
The league will continue to intervene when appropriate, Manfred said, and speak with teams involved when safety issues are involved, or “something has just gone on too long,” Manfred said.