Suns owner: We want to stay put in renovated NBA-only arena, or else … something

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver said a whole bunch of stuff yesterday to AZcentral:

Suns owner Robert Sarver told azcentral sports Wednesday that it’s “highly unlikely” the Suns will pursue a joint basketball/hockey arena with the Arizona Coyotes…

Sarver said his focus is on an upgrade of Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“This facility was built for basketball,” he said…

Sarver said building a new arena would have “maybe made more sense” four or five years ago when the cost estimate was $450 million to $500 million. The costs now, Sarver said, are “significantly higher.” Thus his focus on upgrading Talking Stick, which soon will be the second-oldest arena in the NBA.

“I think it’s the most economically viable alternative for the city and us,” he said. “I like downtown Phoenix. That’s my first preference. I think the NBA is more of an urban game. That’s our demographic.”

Sarver added that he’d like to say in downtown Phoenix but that, “if we can’t, we’ll explore other options.”

During the news conference Sarver said the Suns “have no choice” but to either modernize Talking Stick Resort Arena or build a new arena.

“Our arena is becoming outdated,” he said. “… We have to have an NBA-quality facility. I know that. The city of Phoenix knows that. Hopefully in the next couple of years we can start construction on something.”

Let’s unpack that: Sarver doesn’t want to build a new arena with the Arizona Coyotes because it’d be too expensive, and also he wants to stay in downtown Phoenix, but if he can’t upgrade his current arena there he’ll have to build a new one elsewhere because they “have no choice.”

That’s a big ball of contradictions, unless you take it as all tactical: Sarver is putting all his cards on a renovation of his current Phoenix arena, and wants to use moving elsewhere as a threat, not an actual option. You’d think he’d at least consider sharing digs with the Coyotes as a way to cut down on competition for concerts and things with another arena, but maybe he doesn’t want to have to partner with a franchise that can’t draw flies, or figures maybe the Coyotes will leave town and he can have a monopoly on the winter sports market, either of which is a reasonable enough gambit.

Sarver still isn’t saying much about how to pay for an arena remodel, just restating the “this place is almost 30 years old, time to send it to the Carrousel” mantra he’s been holding to for the last three years. Either he’s working behind the scenes on a funding plan, or he’s hoping state legislators will do it for him — again, either way, an understandable strategy. But eventually he’s going to have to actually say something concrete, at which point you have to hope Phoenix city officials will say: You said you have no choice but to build an upgraded facility and that you want to stay in Phoenix, so what are you going to do if we don’t give you money for it, hold your breath and turn blue?


6 comments on “Suns owner: We want to stay put in renovated NBA-only arena, or else … something

  1. Who can blame Sarver? The Suns are a successful organization with a large fan base. The Coyotes are a losing organization with few fans and corrupt ownership.

  2. Now all we need is the ownership of the AZ Cardinals to start making threats about needing upgrades, or else….after all, the Glendale stadium is over ten years old.

    • Funny how the Cardinals have sold out every game they’ve ever played in Glendale, but th Coyotes can’t draw flies.

  3. It appears a new arena is coming soon.

    ESPN.com: There has been a lot of speculation about the future of hockey in Arizona. What have you been told?

    Tocchet: Gary Bettman has gotten involved, and they have some [arena] leads that are very strong, but they’ve got to [build the new arena] in the Valley. Everybody knows it. And if they get an arena down there, I think we’ve got a chance to make it a really desirable place to play.

    At this point, I don’t know where it’s at with a new arena, but I do know it’s a lot closer than people think. It’s not like these guys are trying to hold on and then move the franchise. They really want to keep us in the Valley and make it a viable franchise.

    http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/20145577/nhl-arizona-coyotes-coach-rick-tocchet-wayne-gretzky-mario-lemieux-phil-kessel

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