Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred came down solidly on the side of the Arizona Diamondbacks' ownership in the team's court battle with Maricopa County.
The Diamondbacks have sued the county, seeking to remove a clause from their stadium lease to allow the team to look to move elsewhere.
The team contends in the suit that the county has failed to allocate some $187 million for maintenance and improvements at Chase Field.
"We take very seriously the obligation to have a major league-quality facility in each and every market. It's absolutely clear from the material that has been made available to me there are serious maintenance needs that need to be met with respect to the stadium," Manfred said during a news conference Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, they have not been able to reach a consensual agreement on how that was going to happen. That stadium, to be a major league-quality stadium, needs work."
In March, the Diamondbacks asked permission from the Maricopa County Stadium District to explore other venues after the Stadium District indicated it will not pay for $135 million in requested maintenance and upgrades of Chase Field.
The Stadium District denied that request.
"We have spent more than four years suggesting alternative solutions that would help the Maricopa County Stadium District hold up its end of our agreement, including multiple offers for us to assume all of the financial responsibilities they currently hold. All of our offers have been denied," D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick told MLB.com.
“Chase Field is every bit the major league-quality facility fans have come to expect over the past 18 seasons," Maricopa County Communications Director Fields Moseley said in a Tuesday statement. "It was rated excellent in the latest facility assessment study because of the millions of dollars spent on important concrete and steel repairs. These decisions don’t happen in a bubble. The Maricopa County Stadium District works with the team to prioritize work that keeps the stadium sound. The county expects that relationship to continue.”
According to the Associated Press, Kendrick and the D-backs offered to cover the $135 million in exchange for a reduction of license fee payments and the ability to book Chase Field for non-baseball events, but the Stadium District denied that request, as well.
In January, the D-backs filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of Arizona against the Stadium District. Kendrick said the lawsuit "will have absolutely no impact on the day-to-back operations of the D-backs and the upcoming season and that for 2017, Chase Field is completely safe."
After the lawsuit was filed, D-backs attorney Leo R. Beus said the team is not seeking damages or taxpayer funding in the lawsuit.
"They are asking the court for the ability to remove the contract restriction that prevents the Diamondbacks from exploring other stadium options," he said.