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By Brandon Brown – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal Jan 23, 2019, 7:57pm EST
The Phoenix City Council approved a deal Wednesday afternoon to renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena, the home of the Phoenix Suns.
The measure to spend $150 million on updates and renovations to the downtown, city-owned arena passed 6-2. Mayor Thelda Williams and Councilmembers Debra Stark, Laura Pastor, Felicita Mendoza, Vania Guevara and Michael Nowakowski voted in favor of the deal, while Vice Mayor Jim Waring and Councilmember Sal DiCiccio voted against it.
They argued that the tax revenue, as well as the economic impact generated by having the Suns and Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown are worth the investment. They also loved to point out that the money being used to pay for the renovations came from a tax on hotel rooms and rental cars, which is almost entirely collected from out-of-state visitors.
The Suns lease the building from the city and the lease goes to 2032. But the National Basketball Association team has an out in its contract that allows it to leave the downtown Phoenix arena in 2022. The team can trigger that clause starting in July.
The City Council was supposed to vote on the proposed deal in December, but after a now-refuted report from the Arizona Republic came out saying Suns owner Robert Sarver had threatened to move the team to Las Vegas or Seattle if the measure didn’t pass, the City Council delayed the vote until Jan. 23.
Along with Phoenix’s $150 million, the Suns are putting in $80 million, plus any overrun costs. The team is also being required to build a practice facility within Phoenix city limits that could cost up to $50 million. The city is not helping the team front any of those costs.
The renovations will be conducted over the next three summers. This summer will not see major renovations to the arena, Rowley told the Phoenix Business Journal. Instead, the team will start building the practice facility. Most arena construction will happen during the summers of 2020 and 2021. During construction, the Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers will have to find another facility in which to play.
During the weeks leading up to the vote, members and organizations of the Valley’s business community have come out in strong support for the arena renovation deal. Organizations like the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Valley Partnership, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Arizona Technology Council, came out in support of the arena renovations.
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