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Phoenix City Council to vote on $230 million Suns arena renovation

PHX to vote on $150M for Suns arena renovation
Posted at 6:55 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 06:21:31-05

The Phoenix City Council will hold a vote today, December 12, on whether to allocate $150 million toward a $230 million overall renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena.

TSR is home to the Phoenix Suns as well as the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and many concerts throughout the year.

If approved, the arena will undergo a $230 million renovation between 2019 and 2021. The City of Phoenix's Sports Facilities Funds will contribute $150 million toward the renovation, and the Suns will contribute $80 million. Any costs beyond $230 million will also be funded by the Suns.

Read the meeting agenda here. The vote regarding the Suns' arena begins on page 80.

The renovation "will include significant repair and replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure" for the arena, which the Suns have called home since the 1992-93 NBA season.

If approved, the Suns will build an off-site practice facility in Phoenix, at an estimated cost of $25-$50 million, in order to free up space at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns will be required to pay for the facility.

Currently, the Suns' arena contract with the city runs through 2032, but the team could opt out as soon as 2022 if certain criteria are met. If approved today, that contract would be extended until 2037, with an option to extend it to 2042.

The city also anticipates collecting additional fees and rent from the Suns as a result of the proposed renovation -- an estimated $60 million over the term of the agreement.

Phoenix mayor's office issued the following statement in regards to the proposed renovations:

Over the last three years, the City of Phoenix has pursued an agreement for renovations at Talking Stick Resort Arena, and talks with the Suns over the past few months have become more productive. I am committed to approving an agreement that will continue our partnership and foster the positive economic impact that having the Sun's downtown has had for Phoenix. I’ve heard from many constituents who have expressed support to keep the Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena to maintain the economic viability of the region.

The Phoenix Arena Development Limited Partnership would continue to pay all operations, event and maintenance expenses for the arena, and the Suns would agree to pay up to $200 million to the city if they relocate out of Phoenix before the end of the amended contract in 2037.

Last month, the Phoenix City Council met in a closed-door executive session to discuss the future of the arena. In July of last year, Suns owner Robert Sarver said the team either needs a new arena, or renovations to the existing one.

"We have no choice but to do one of those two because as you know, our arena’s becoming outdated," Sarver said at the time, noting TSR Arena is one of the NBA's oldest active venues. "We have to have an NBA-quality facility. I know that. I think the City of Phoenix knows that. So, we have no choice but to get one of those two things done."

Phoenix City Councilman Debra Stark released the following statement into reports that some residents believe this deal is being handled without public input.

"I am deeply sorry that some members of the public believe this. The city has been in negotiations since before my time on Council. In fact, at one point then Mayor Stanton suggested exploring a new arena that could house both the Suns and Coyotes, but the public was not receptive to that idea. During my time on the Council, I have talked to many residents and businesses regarding the arena. Some support while others do not support the idea of renovations to the arena. However, a larger percentage understand the fact that we own the arena. Should the Suns walk, the city would still need to maintain and upgrade infrastructure in order to operate the arena for events. If the arena was inoperable, it would greatly impact the businesses in and around the downtown area.  These businesses bring in a lot of revenue to our city's general fund. The cost to build and operate this arena was because of a bed tax and a car rental tax. A large percentage of that tax comes from tourists. The Suns also pay rent.  I believe we have achieved a good deal. If we were talking about a new arena, I could not support. If we did not own the arena, I believe we would not even be discussing the issue."