Arena Renovation Deal To Keep Suns In Phoenix Through At Least '37
The Phoenix City Council has approved a $230M deal for renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena that "will keep" the Suns in downtown Phoenix through at least '37, according to a front-page piece by Jessica Boehm of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The council yesterday voted 6-2 to approve the deal. The city will pay $150M "from its Sports Facilities Fund, which is composed" of a 1% tax on hotels and a 2% tax on car rentals. The council "added a number of tweaks to the deal." The Suns will be required to spend $10M "on community benefits (either through nonprofits or city programs), including at least" $2.6M to the "city's preschool program this year." The city "will hire someone to oversee Phoenix's expenditures on the renovations." Suns Owner Robert Sarver said that he "believes the arena investment will be a 'win-win' for both the team and Phoenix." Most of the speakers on the vote "favored the deal and spoke heartily about the Suns' community commitment." Several individuals "chided the deal as lopsided, since Phoenix will pay nearly double what the team will invest' (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/24). The Suns could not muster enough council support for the renovation deal in December. The team deployed a cadre of PR and public affairs firms and leveraged business allies to help lobby council members and drive home to voters that tourism taxes will pay for renovations to the city owned arena. Sarver and Suns President & CEO Jason Rowley both testified at yesterday's vote (Mike Sunnucks, THE DAILY).
HOW THE MONEY'S BEING SPENT: Talking Stick Resort Arena is slated for a total of $234.9M worth of upgrades and repairs, according to documents from the city of Phoenix. The arena opened in '92. Plans call for $99.6M of plumbing and HVAC repairs and for a new LED lighting system. The renovations also include $18.7M for new video boards, technology and security systems, $26.4M for new food service equipment and facilities as well for new artwork around the arena and $14.8M to upgrade the main seating bowl (Sunnucks). In Phoenix, Brandon Brown noted the renovations "will be conducted over the next three summers." Rowley said that this summer "will not see major renovations to the arena." Instead, the team "will start building the practice facility." Most arena construction "will happen during the summers" of '20 and '21. During construction, the WNBA Mercury and the Indoor Football League Arizona Rattlers "will have to find another facility in which to play" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/23).