Final Phoenix Suns Arena Meeting Draws Small Crowd

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 10:48pm
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 10:49pm

Mayor Thelda Williams speaking
Christina Estes/ KJZZ
Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams expresses support for the proposed arena renovation deal at a community meeting on Jan. 10, 2019.

The fifth and final public meeting about Phoenix’s proposed $230 million plan to renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena attracted a small crowd Thursday night.

City employees and Phoenix Suns associates outnumbered residents at the Desert West Community Center near 65th Avenue and Thomas Road. Out of nine public comments, three involved questions, five voiced support and one was against the deal.

It calls for the Suns to pay $80 million upfront and Phoenix to contribute $150 million upfront using an existing tax on rental cars and hotel rooms, something one resident in attendance didn’t like.

“If the Suns would fork out a little bit more money upfront and pay for it and maybe we could use the tax dollars we would save for that and put towards the police and fire,” the man said.

Another man who spoke in favor said his firm has owned property downtown since 2006.

people seated at meeting
Christina Estes/ KJZZ
The final meeting to gather public input on the city's deal with the Phoenix Suns to renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena took place at Desert West Community Center on Jan. 10, 2019.

“And we’ve made considerable investments, just recently purchasing a $20 million piece of property near the Suns arena,” he said.”We would have not made that purchase had we believed that the Phoenix Suns would not be a part of downtown and that the arena would not be a viable option for all the wonderful events that happen down there.”

Starting July 1 the Suns could trigger an arbitration process to determine whether the arena no longer functions the way it was intended when it opened 26 years ago. If that happens, the city says it would be on the hook for all repair costs.

Mayor Thelda Williams and Councilwoman Deb Stark told the group they support the plan. Two other council members-Jim Waring and Vania Guevara-have publicly voiced their opposition. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the deal Jan. 23.

Proposal Highlights

  • The city will contribute $150 million upfront.
  • The Suns will pay $80 million upfront and any construction overruns.
  • The Suns will continue to share profits and pay the city rent, which is estimated to be $60 million in rent and profit share to the city over the 15-year term.
  • The city will contribute $2 million annually and the Suns $1 million annually to a renewal and replacement account for infrastructure needs.
  • The Suns will build a practice facility in Phoenix estimated at $25–$50 million.

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