Suns owner is demanding $250m in arena renovation cash, shh, it’s a secret

Hey, I haven’t heard much about plans for a renovated Phoenix Suns arena lately. Why haven’t I been hearing about that?

You haven’t heard much about this deal because it’s being hammered out behind closed doors.

Oh, thanks, KPNX-TV! And thanks also for reporting on this, even though there’s nobody making press statements about it, which I know is the main way journalism happens these days. So what’s the scoop?

A source familiar with the project says a proposed overhaul of the 25-year-old city-owned arena could cost close to a half-billion dollars, with taxpayers picking up more than half the bill.

Oho, so we have someone making not-for-attribution press statements about this! Also, “more than $250 million in taxpayer money” is a hell of a lot, especially for just a damn renovation to an existing arena.

Both of the leading candidates in next year’s Phoenix mayoral election seem to agree, with Kate Gallego issuing a statement that “it is not in Phoenix’s best interest to invest in an arena,” while her opponent Daniel Valenzuela chimed in, “For too long, taxpayers have been expected to foot the bill for sports venues. This practice must stop now.”

Of course, neither of these statements is a guarantee that as mayor they wouldn’t support any kind of arena subsidies — or, for that matter, that current mayor Greg Stanton couldn’t sign off on a deal before he leaves office a year and change from now. But “things aren’t going any better for Suns owner Robert Sarver’s arena subsidy demands at the city level than they did in the state legislature” is probably a pretty fair takeaway, at least until the city council finishes meeting behind closed doors and we can get a public statement of some kind.

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8 comments on “Suns owner is demanding $250m in arena renovation cash, shh, it’s a secret

  1. The reason we are looking at a renovation is because of that phrase, ‘taxpayer approval.’ It might be like those home ‘renovations’ that leave three bricks of the original structure in place. At any rate, Sarver knows that the current mayor and council may represent his best, or last, opportunity to extract such a sum from the citizenry.

  2. And, with the renovation not including better accommodations for hockey, that leaves the Coyotes out in the cold on any attempts, again, through the State Legislature for their new arena.

    Looks like their only option is with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which has their name (Talking Stick Resort) on the current arena for the Suns!

    If the Suns do not get their way, will the SRPMIC then build a joint arena for the Suns/Coyotes across from their current Scottsdale casino?

    Stay tuned.

  3. If the Indian Community were to build an arena for the Suns, Coyotes, or both, it would be with the expectation that it would pay for itself. That would mean no subsidies, and some reasonable level of rent. Which would probably mean no Suns, and no Coyotes.

    1. You are probably right, as there is not enough of a revenue retention for the Coyotes to survive. The NHL model is for the team to control the majority, if not all, of the arena’s revenue streams.

      A shared arena was always a pipe dream.

      Looks like Andrew Barroway has one more attempt with the State Legislature, this year, but that is also doomed for failure considering the current political climate.

      1. The problem Barroway has is that even when being paid $15m annually to play in an arena that was built for him (at no cost to the team), and while receiving maximum revenue sharing from the league ($18-20m), his team was still losing money on operations.

        Some of that would change if he was in Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix, but it is extraordinarily unlikely that he would see a net $40m upswing in the balance sheet… which is what his franchise needs to be profitable on ops in the greater Phoenix area.

        The fundamental issue is that not enough people in the community are willing to pay NHL prices to watch NHL hockey. Should Phoenix taxpayers really pay to fix that problem?

  4. They have to get out. They have a balloon payment of $87 million dollars the last four years of their contract (years 36-40). Now the sweetheart deal is they can break the lease after 30 years if the stadium is deemed obsolete.

    Would you take a free stadium for 30 years (naming rights alone cover the lease) then walk before the balloon payment hits?

    1. Wait, the out clause would let them out of a balloon payment? Do you have a link handy to that? Because I have to see that level of stupid for myself.

  5. Phoenix breaks off talks with Suns over arena overhaul

    Robert Sarver still has five more years on his current lease.

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