Who owns the Arizona Diamondbacks? Ken Kendrick ownership, history | Phoenix New Times

Who owns the Arizona Diamondbacks? Get to know Ken Kendrick

You may know all about Diamondbacks stars Zac Gallen and Corbin Carroll, but what about the billionaire writing the checks?
Ken Kendrick has been the managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2004.
Ken Kendrick has been the managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2004. Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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Baseball season is in full swing, and so are the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last year, they energized the Valley while making a surprising trip to the World Series. This year, they hope to accomplish a feat that's been particularly difficult to pull off in Major League Baseball: get back there the very next year.

The Diamondbacks spent a good chunk of money last offseason to make that happen, and it should be fun to watch. But while you may know the likes of Zac Gallen, Corbin Carroll and manager Torey Lovullo, how much do you know about the man writing the checks?

Who owns the Arizona Diamondbacks?

The managing general partner of the Diamondbacks is Earl "Ken" Kendrick, and he's been a part of the team's ownership group since its inception in 1995. He is now the largest shareholder but does not own a majority stake in the club. Still, as managing general partner, Kendrick is the point person for the larger ownership group and has final say over matters concerning the team. Eighty-year-old Kendrick has been the managing general partner since 2004.

Kendrick grew up in West Virginia and graduated from West Virginia University in 1965. After beginning his career with IBM, he made his fortune by starting his own software company. Datatel Inc. created infrastructure technology software for colleges and foundations and was sold in 2015 for $3.5 billion. In 2024, Forbes estimated Kendrick's net worth to be $1.1 billion.

Arizona Diamondbacks win-loss record under Kendrick

Gauging Kendrick's tenure atop the club inevitably requires grappling with how he got there. When the Diamondbacks were founded in 1995, the team's managing general partner was Jerry Colangelo, who also owned the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Eager to bring a winner to Arizona, Colangelo spent profligately to secure talents such as Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez and Curt Schilling. It worked in the short term, leading to the team's only World Series title in 2001. But by 2004, the club was old, bad and deep into debt.

Midway through that year, Kendrick engineered a coup that pushed out Colangelo so the rest of the ownership group could put the team back into the black. Since then, Kendrick has run a pretty thrifty ship. Before the 2024 season, the Diamondbacks' payroll ranked in the top half of MLB only once under Kendrick. In part because of that, the team has struggled to win consistently in a division filled with richer franchises.

From 2005 through last season, the Kendrick-run Diamondbacks won fewer than 48% of their games. They made the playoffs four times, but never in consecutive seasons, and topped 90 losses just as often. Last year, though, the team shot through the playoffs with a young and talented roster, and Kendrick responded by spending on player additions over the winter, pushing the team's payroll to a franchise-record $163 million.

How much are the Diamondbacks worth?

Ownership has been good for Kendrick, too. The club is now valued at $1.45 billion, according to Forbes, up from $840 million in 2015.
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Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick has suggested the team could move out of state if it doesn't receive public money for stadium upgrades.
Norm Hall / Getty Images

What controversies have there been?

Like many baseball-mad billionaires who get ahold of a professional team, Kendrick struggled with impatience early in his stewardship.

Upset with the team's lack of success, he has fired managers and general managers rather than see their team-building strategies through. After the 2012 season, Kendrick essentially pushed then-GM Kevin Towers to trade star outfielder Justin Upton — whom Kendrick had publicly criticized on the radio — resulting in a deal that produced little for the Diamondbacks in return. Prior to the 2016 season, Kendrick signed star pitcher Zack Greinke to a $206.5 million contract largely without his front office's involvement, leaving his executives too little payroll space to build a competitive roster.

Kendrick has shown more patience recently, delegating many day-to-day duties of running the team to president and CEO Derrick Hall and showing more faith in the leaders he hired. General manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo have been with the club since 2017 and have held their positions longer than any of their predecessors. Kendrick stuck with them through several losing seasons — including a 110-loss 2021 campaign — as they improved a farm system that eventually powered them to the World Series.

But there have been other controversies. In 2020, Kendrick and the limited partnership were sued by three minority owners who claimed Kendrick was strong-arming them into selling their shares or increasing their stakes. The case was dismissed with prejudice in 2023. In 2021, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods claimed Kendrick engineered his dismissal from Woods' law firm over a series of critical tweets. "You are an arrogant asshole!" Kendrick wrote to Woods in an email. "A truly toxic combination." Woods died later that year at age 67.

And Kendrick has always drawn scrutiny for his political donations. He and his wife, Randy, have long supported Republican candidates for office, including figures from the party's establishment and those on its extremes. Several Donald Trump-aligned lawmakers have received contributions from Kendrick, including U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, state Sens. Wendy Rogers and Anthony Kern, and election-denying failed Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem. Kendrick also donated to a political action committee that produced racist attack ads in 2022. But there is no record he's ever donated to Trump or his campaigns.

Generally, though, Kendrick stays out of the news. But not always. Just earlier in 2024, as the Diamondbacks began what should have been a triumphant spring training following their playoff run, Kendrick stood in front of a host of reporters and essentially threatened to move the team out of state if no public money was offered to either upgrade Chase Field or build a new ballpark.
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