City of Phoenix officials are planning to hold at least five public input meetings in the next month regarding the future of the 26 year-old Talking Stick Resort Arena.
That facility, located at 201 E. Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix, is the home to the Phoenix Suns basketball team, which has been asking for significant renovations to the 18,400-seat arena.
The team’s owners have long complained about the condition of the arena, which include issues with the plumbing and electrical systems, suggesting that the Suns may move to another city if the facility is not significantly upgraded.
A proposal hammered out between Phoenix and the Suns is calling for a $230 million renovation, $150 million of which would be paid for by the city. The Suns would kick in the remaining $80 million.
But members of the Phoenix City Council have decided to hold off on a final vote on the proposal in the wake of public opposition to the proposal.
That opposition was particularly given voice in a council appearance that has won national attention by retired 90 year-old realtor Greta Rogers who said the city should not be “in the business of paying cash to support private enterprise.”
In a video statement, meanwhile, Suns owner Robert Sarver took issue with the charge that he wanted to move the team out of Phoenix if the city fails to modernize the arena.
“I’m 100 percent committed, and have been for the last four years, to find a solution to keep them in downtown Phoenix where they belong,” said Sarver.
Sarver added that he simply wanted to see the Talking Stick Resort Arena restored as a “world class facility.”
The proposal that will be taken up by the council in January also calls for Phoenix to pay $2 million every year into a fund that will be used for ongoing renovations needs, with the Suns contributing $1 million.
The team is also committing to putting up a new practice facility that could cost as much as $50 million to build.
By Garry Boulard
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