Rob Manfred does not seem to be brimming with confidence that the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to stay in Phoenix forever.
With another West Coast franchise up and moving in the Oakland Athletics eventually heading to Las Vegas, Manfred hopes Phoenix doesn’t lose a second professional sports franchise, in addition to the inevitable loss of the NHL‘s Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes’ inability to get a new arena likely means they are leaving town sooner than later, possibly to an Atlanta, a Houston or a Kansas City.
The Valley’s reluctance to finance a stadium with public money could leave the Snakes in jeopardy. Keep in mind that Chase Field has not been renovated since it opened as Bank One Ballpark in 1998. This franchise has already won a World Series, and seems to be on the upward trajectory of its competitive life cycle. The Diamondbacks’ lease at Chase Field expires after the 2027 season.
Here is what Manfred said on the subject of MLB’s overall viability in Arizona moving forward.
"“Whenever you get near the end of a lease, you get yourself into a situation where what I regard to be public assets — right, a stadium is a public asset — there’s going to need to be updating.”"
The good news is Manfred seems to have a lot of confidence in owner Ken Kendrick’s ability to be proactive in this and to do everything in his power to keep the Diamondbacks playing in Arizona.
"“I think that Ken Kendrick has indicated a willingness to fulfill his side of sort of the public/private partnership to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m hopeful that whatever went on with the Coyotes is not an indication of a lack of public support to fulfill the public part of that partnership to keep the Arizona facility a first-class major league facility.”"
With the Oakland mess and the attendance conundrum down in Tampa, why not throw a potential facilities wrench into the equation with Arizona? Oh, Manfred is not going make friends over this…
Rob Manfred says the Arizona Diamondbacks need to renovate Chase Field soon
I’m going to be totally honest with you. While as awesome as The Valley is in general, there is not enough of a Fortune 500 presence to support four major sports franchises. Frankly, it can handle two very well, possibly three if it gets its ducks in order. All things equal, Arizona will prioritize keeping the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale and the beloved Phoenix Suns downtown above all else.
While there is a hockey fanbase to be had, the Coyotes are running out of excuses to stay in The Valley for very much longer. Houston, and maybe Atlanta, can handle a fourth team, while Kansas City is probably big enough to support either an NHL or an NBA franchise, but definitely not both. Unfortunately, fans are the ones who pay the price for it, far more so than even the taxpayers do.
If it were up to me, I would do everything in my power to keep the Diamondbacks in Arizona. There is already a rich baseball tradition in-state from its major college programs, as well as, I don’t know, the Cactus League… Baseball is a warm-weather sport. Although the Snakes have to play inside most of the time, this is an area of the country where high school talent is readily available.
I think if you are going to move a professional franchise from a massive metroplex like Greater Phoenix, you only do so out of necessity. As long as ownership remains committed to fielding a winning product and doing everything in its power to appease the fans, it will work itself out. I don’t think you can move the team to Oakland. What are the other West Coast options? Portland?
One thing is for sure: 2027 is not as far away as you think, so Arizona needs to step up here soon.