Just what is going on in the Valley of the Sun in the Phoenix metropolitan area? The National Hockey League’s Arizona franchise is looking at leaving Glendale to get closer to the center of activity near Phoenix and perhaps sharing an arena with Arizona State University in Tempe. The NBA’s Suns ownership is playing in a building that will be 24 years old in June which means the building in today’s sports world is ready for retirement in a few years. Both the NBA and NHL teams could end up in a new Phoenix arena and that may have caught the attention of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks franchise. Apparently Diamondbacks owners want to get out of the lease at the Phoenix ballpark which is now 18 years old.
The Diamondbacks ownership back when Major League Baseball awarded Phoenix and St. Petersburg, Florida expansion teams ignored one time Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth’s advice to a sign a 20 not 30 year stadium lease. As it stands now, the Diamondbacks ownership is locked into a lease until 2028 but can revisit the lease in 2024. The Diamondbacks ownership group wants a shinier, newer toy and probably would look somewhere in the Valley, maybe even Phoenix. But does Phoenix have the more than a billion dollars needed for two buildings? Phoenix elected officials did a rotten job with the arena, building it to basketball specifications and ruined any chance of a hockey team succeeding in the building. The team moved to Glendale a bit more than 12 years ago. The Phoenix metropolitan area is one of the fast growing markets in the United States but sports facility building is quite a haul of money and also there is debt on all of the buildings, if the arenas and baseball stadium are replaced and torn down, the debt load continues. The Diamondbacks owners need to get in the municipal handout line before the money runs out.
Republished with permission Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.