News broke yesterday that the Diamondbacks and Maricopia County are in the midst of a quarrel. The team wants Maricopia County to pay for $187 million in repairs to Chase Field, something the county does not want to do. If the county does not comply, the Diamondbacks have threatened to sue— or even relocate to a new city.
Once a fan hears “relocation” in the context of their favorite team, anxiety is only natural. What will you do if the team you grew up with moves to another city?
But if I am a Diamondbacks fan I would not be too worried– at least not yet.
No matter how mad Ken Kendrick may be at Maricopia County, he can’t just pick up and leave on his own. Firstly, the team can’t even get out of its lease until 2024. So even if the Diamondbacks do relocate, they can’t do so for at least another eight years. And there is even more red tape beyond that.
For argument’s sake, let’s say the Diamondbacks do get out of their lease and Kendrick proposes to relocate to, say, Montreal. This would then be voted on by the owners of 29 other teams. A relocation bid, per MLB rules, would need three-quarters of the affected league franchises (National, in this case) to approve and a majority of owners in the other league to do so as well. Since there are more dire stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay, a Diamondbacks relocation may not be as high of a priority as would a relocation for the Athletics or Rays.
Additionally, relocation in the majors is incredibly rare. Just one team has done it since 1973. So if Oakland and Tampa are a higher priority, it would be unlikely to see three relocations in a short period of time. That is unheard of in modern sports.
Owners have mootly threatened to move teams in the past. George Steinbrenner once threatened to move the Yankees to New Jersey. Let’s wait to see how this one plays out.