Diamondbacks’ relocation threats mirror Steinbrenner’s New Jersey episode
The Diamondbacks’ threats to relocate have been a very hot topic over the past weekend. If you haven’t heard yet, it pretty much boils down to this: the Diamondbacks say that Chase Field, which is owned by Maricopa County, needs about $187 million in repairs. The Diamondbacks want the county to pay for the repairs. If they do not, the Diamondbacks said they could relocate when they are eligible to get out of their lease in 2024.
The situation the Diamondbacks are currently in with Maricopa County sounds very familiar to a situation that happened a few years ago. And it’s not the Expos moving to Montreal.
It’s the Yankees’ threats to move to… New Jersey?
Yeah, that was a thing.
In the early 1990’s George Steinbrenner wanted to get a new stadium for the Yankees– one that was away from the crime-ridden area that surrounds Yankee Stadium. He wanted New York City to help him to move to a better part of town, somewhere that had more parking, convenient transit access and less crime. Steinbrenner levied threats to move the team to New Jersey if he did not get sufficient help from the city. Does any of this sound familiar?
The threats were serious enough that then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo made a strong push to build a stadium for the Yankees in midtown Manhattan in 1993. None of this obviously ever happened; the Yankees built a palace accross the street from the old stadium in 2009.
This is all relevant today because it seems as though history is repeating itself with the Diamondbacks. Steinbrenner probably never actually wanted to move New York’s pinnacle sports franchise to New Jersey– he was just using the threat as leverage. Likewise, the odds of the Diamondbacks moving are pretty small. Only one team has relocated since 1973 and any relocation would require a three-quarters majority in the National League and a simple majority in the major league. Because of the more dire stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland, the Diamondbacks are a much lower priority to relocate.
The threats of relocation seem like nothing more than a negociation tactic. Fear not, Diamondbacks fans.